King KJ Prepares To Defend His Crown

Elite XC’s 160 lbs pound champ talks Edwards & Diaz

Obviously, KJ Noons is our kind of fighter. While he has enjoyed considerable more success in MMA he does dabble in boxing and we dig that.

For the time being, though, his boxing career has been put on hold. Makes sense considering Noons shocked the MMA world in November by defeating Nick Diaz and capturing the first-ever Elite XC 160-pound title. He’s kind of like a big fish in a small MMA pond and a small fish in a big boxing lake.

His first title defense comes on 4/26 against veteran Yves Edwards in Hawaii and, today, we catch up with Noons while later in the week we’ll feature a discussion with Edwards on the upcoming bout.

Some of the topics we spoke to Noons about were:

* Will this fight air on CBS?

* His thoughts on the CBS deal

* The revival of Yves Edwards’ career

* His ever-improving ground game

* Nick Diaz’s negative comments following their bout in November

* When he plans on boxing again

All that and much more. Check, ch-check, check ‘er out.

KJ Noons – 03/10/08

To The Victors Go The Spoils

I’m still all worked up over last night’s festivities in the world of boxing and MMA so allow me to open the mental flood gates.

Let’s begin with the sweet the science. The Park was actually live and inside Madison Square Garden to witness a great night of boxing. Surprisingly, I had only seen one live boxing fight before in my life – Gatti vs. Hutchinson in 2000 – and while that bout certainly had its fair share of fireworks (and blood) last night’s experience was on a whole different level.

Firstly, the crowd was off the charts. Walk to the bathroom or concession stand and you would instantly find yourself in the midst of an impromptu mini-Puerto Rican Day Parade. Gotta love how passionate those PR fans are when it comes to local talent.

I never thought I would see the day when sweet ol’ “Sugar” Shane Mosley would get booed like he did last night but the pro wrestling fan in me loved the clear-cut heel vs. babyface battle last night’s bout represented.

Speaking of Mosley…wow. That’s really all I can say. I walked away from that fight way more impressed with the “aging” superstar than the rising star Cotto. Truth be told, I actually scored the fight a draw and while I am aware a fight can look a lot different from the nose bleeds than on TV I really thought Mosley had as much of a right to win that bout as Cotto did. We all expected Mosley to be quick but few (including myself) expected to see Cotto back pedal from an oncoming Mosley assault as many times as he did.

That said, I had no problem with Cotto winning. He proved his worth and should definitely be next in line for Mayweather. That fight easily makes the most sense. The loud-mouth (and older) Mayweather against the quiet brahma bull. The phenom looking to shut the self-centered champ for good. Beautiful. Thrown in the extra storyline line of Cotto looking to finish the job fellow Puerto Rican, Oscar De La Hoya, couldn’t finish and you have an instant 2008 Fight of the year on your hands.

Here’s hoping’s Chris Mannix isn’t right when he says Cotto vs. De La Hoya may be up next. I fail to see what can be proven from that match-up. Plus, didn’t De La Hoya once say he had no interest in ever fighting another Puerto Rican?

One more note about last night: The undercards, as expected, were great. Margarito and Ortiz came out guns blazing. For a minute I thought I was watching a UFC card with all those first round KOs. The other rumeur du jour appears to be Margarito vs. Cotto but, at this point, that fight would clearly be a step down for Cotto. Margarito is a tremendous boxer but there’s a hell of a lot more money to be made in a bout against Mayweather or De La Hoya.

Once Cotto’s hand was raised, I rushed home from MSG to watch Elite XC: Renegade and all things considered, I came away thoroughly pleased. Sure, most of the fights ended early but I enjoyed each one of them including the much-anticipated debut of Kimbo Slice.

img_5502-slice-vs-cantrell-01.jpgDespite the fact that his first official MMA fight lasted only 19 seconds the spectacle of seeing this larger-than-life fellow step into the cage was something to remember. I never thought I would see Bo Cantrell, who looks quite intimidating in his own-right, appear as scared as he did before the fight. Rumor has it Cantrell was throwing up in his locker room before the bout and, really, who can blame him? Kimbo looked downright vicious in the cage and it appears as though Tank Abbott may be next on his hit list. Good luck, Tank.

The only negative coming out of the fight was that I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated by Cantrell’s performance. The cage looked like it was the last place he wanted to be and after two so-so punches he tapped out due to strikes. Weak. Sure, he took the fight on very short notice but he showed no intention of ever putting up a fight. Watching his performance brought back memories of Brock Lesnar’s MMA debut in June in which Lesnar’s opponent, Min-Soo Kim (also a late replacement), submitted due to strikes 69 seconds into the first round.

Elsehwere, friend of Jarry Park, KJ Noons, shocked the MMA world by defeating Nick Diaz to become the first-ever 160-pound EXC Lightweight champ in a controversial ref stoppage due to a couple of large gashes on Diaz. This decision was particularly disappointing because the first round was exceptional (I had Noons winning the round 10-9). Who would have ever thought we would see the inexperienced KJ Noons dominate Nick Diaz in all facets of the fight? Needless to say, I think a Noons vs. Diaz rematch should be signed right away.

img_6139-noons-vs-diaz-victory-04.jpgJake Shields and Antonio Silva continued to enjoy success in Elite XC with Shields really making a statement. Mike Pyle can complain all he wants about EXC not promoting him enough but the fact of the matter is he turned down a shot at the Welterweight title and had a chance to beat a top-10 Welterweight on his way out of the promotion and did nothing to prove he deserves a big money contract from any other rival organization. On the other hand, Shields, as he said in our interview last week, continues to prove he is one of the top Welterweights in the world and certainly one of the best on the ground. Question is: Who does he fight next?

And how about Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Has anyone at 265 lbs ever looked that agile before? I would love to see him drop to heavyweight because I think he can be a true force to be reckoned with in that division and face better-skilled opponents.

Ok, I’m done. What a great night of fighting. Keep visiting all week as we’ll be reviewing this weekend’s action and hope to speak with some of the big winners from the ring and cage.

***Update: In case you missed it, below is footage of Kimbo’s debut. Did Cantrell take a dive? See for yourself…

Bo Knows He’s Got Nothing On KJ Noons

Bo Jackson…Deion Sanders…Their whole “one day I’m a football star the next I’m a baseball player” routine was definitely impressive. But, let’s be real, they don’t hold a candle to what KJ Noons is trying to accomplish.

Noons is one of the few professional athletes that is actively competing on the boxing AND mixed-martial-arts stage. When it comes to the sweet science, he holds a 7-1-0 record with 5 KOs. In the MMA world, he is currently 5-2-0. Not a bad start. Noons focuses his training on whichever sport he will be competing in next. And, boy, does he have a big fight on his hands in just a few days.

Noons will be facing Nick Diaz for the first-ever Elite XC 160 lbs Lightweight belt this Saturday night at Elite XC:Renegade. Diaz is coming off a hard-fought victory over Mike Aina in his Elite debut in September. And while this fight appears to be a mismatch between a fighter (Diaz) who has fought in over twice as many MMA bouts as his opponent, Noons doesn’t seem phased in the slightest:

“You’re going to see the belt around my waist, man…”

Interestingly enough, in my interview with Noons (found below), he also said that this is the last fight on his Elite XC contract. However, one has to figure that a deal is already in place for an extension given the fact that he is fighting for a title. I mean, Gary Shaw wouldn’t give him a title shot before resigning him, would he?

Take a listen as Noons discusses his upcoming title fight, his boxing career, Kimbo Slice’s debut and his future in Elite XC.

KJ Noons – 11/07/07