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Three of SmackDown LIVE's best square off for the WWE Championship in a main event free-for-all.02/14/2017 - 22:45
Hardy and MVP to throw down at MSG
Just a day after United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter threw down the verbal gauntlet -- using WWE.com as a means to challenge Matt Hardy to a boxing match in Madison Square Garden at next week's Saturday Night's Main Event -- Hardy agreed to lace up the gloves. Watch the challenge here...
"If he wants to box, we'll box," Matt told WWE.com over the phone, minutes after he watched the video challenge on the Web site. "Even if I'm out of my element, I will do whatever I can to come out on top. I'll lay it all out on the line, because I always give one hundred percent at everything. As I always say, I won't quit and I will not die."
Hardy is the first to admit that he's inexperienced in the "sweet science," and he's sure MVP wouldn't issue this challenge without having some idea of what he's doing in a boxing ring. But Hardy also realizes that accepting this challenge gives him a prime opportunity to prove once more that he's better than the Franchise Playa. At the very least, by going the distance, he can show that his victory over MVP in their first competition -- an Arm Wrestling Contest, held on SmackDown two weeks ago -- wasn't due to Porter's later-disclosed medical ailment and claims that he "wasn't ready," as the bombastic champion has continually insisted.
"I understand that MVP did have a heart condition, and I'm not taking anything away from that. But he's heavily exaggerated it and really blown it out of proportion. It drives me crazy, but that's what people like MVP do. They find an excuse for everything.
"Hey, I'm not a boxer," he re-emphasized. "I've been in a few scraps in my time, but I'm no boxer. Still, you won't hear me complain about it. This is his challenge, and I'm going to go into MSG and give it everything I have."
Though his chances for victory may be slim, a Hardy win at Saturday Night's Main Event wouldn't just put up a 2-0 cushion in Matt's ongoing game of one-upmanship with MVP. It would also prove that Porter's callous statements that Hardy is "just another nerd in the herd" are as inaccurate as MVP maintaining that he "barely lost" their first contest.
Of course, a knockout punch would further drive home the point that Hardy can go "toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow" with the champion who thinks he's "half a man, "half a-mazing." It would also counter any plausible excuse MVP could land after the bell of defeat sounded. Scoring a knockout in boxing demonstrates dominance, and is as cut and dry as hoisting the white flag and leaving during the middle of a wrestling match because you're outmatched -- just like MVP did to Hardy two weeks ago on SmackDown.
"I know it'll be real tough, but a knockout would be another piece to the puzzle of getting that rematch for the United States Championship," said Hardy. "Whatever it takes for me to get that rematch, I'll try my best to find some way of getting it done."
It's unclear whether MVP's skills as a "Magnificently Versed Pugilist" are as sharp as his tongue, or if he truly has the quick hands and feet to float like a butterfly and sting Hardy. But having handpicked this challenge and mentioning past boxing greats like Rocky Marciano, "Smokin' " Joe Frazier, Felix Trinidad and the man Sports Illustrated awarded the "Sportsman of the Century," Muhammad Ali, Porter better have a solid strategy for victory. As the brainchild behind the concept of a boxing match at Saturday Night's Main Event, the pressure to perform will be laced inside his gloves.
"I can't worry about how good MVP's boxing skills are, or I've lost before I even get in the ring," Hardy explained. "I've just got to turn that kind of thinking into motivation, because a loss for him would be a huge embarrassment. He's an excuse-maker who never takes responsibility for his actions, so I really want him to man up and admit he lost if he loses; that's what I'll do if I lose."
Getting MVP to confess that Hardy can beat him without cheating may prove even tougher for Hardy than exchanging punches in the ring Saturday night. More important, do such goals take Hardy's eyes off what he knows is the ultimate prize? Does Porter's non-stop trash talking put the focus on achieving personal victories instead of using these challenges to obtain U.S. gold?
"The more we compete against one another, the more personal it's gotten between us," admitted Hardy. "I look at these challenges as a way to paint this masterpiece, like a Picasso. I hope it's going to be filled with me beating MVP challenge after challenge after challenge. And when I'm all done and the picture is complete, I will hopefully be the United States Champion. That's what I see as the final masterpiece of all of these challenges. When it's all said and done, I'll prove that Montel Vontavious Porter isn't the MVP he claims to be."
At Saturday Night's Main Event, the battle of words will cease, and the fists will fly at the Mecca of both boxing and sports-entertainment. MVP has a very likely opportunity to prove that he's better than Hardy, but if he again comes up short, it could be the body blow that puts Hardy on the road to becoming a U.S. Champion heavyweight. Hardy's been the underdog in challenges before, but this time, when he makes his way to the ring in the hallowed halls of MSG, can Hardy join those who have walked in the underdog and walked out the victor?