CINCINNATI - Former EliteXC champ K.J. Noons' stumbled in his return to boxing on Saturday when he suffered a unanimous-decision loss to James Countryman at TKO Boxing's "3 The Hard Way" event at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
Noons (8-2) suffered a unanimous-decision loss to fellow middleweight Countryman (14-1) in a six-round undercard bout.
The well-matched fight proved one of the top bouts from the six-fight card, though Noons suffered losing scores of losing scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56 while snapping a four-fight win streak.
The bout was Noons' first boxing match since his unanimous-decision win over Alejandro Bogarin (8-7-3) in November.
Noons was carrying a three-fight MMA win streak, which included a victory over Nick Diaz for the first-ever EliteXC lightweight title, when a conflict with ProElite management resulted in the former EliteXC 160-pound champion being stripped of the title in late 2008. He then announced his intentions of returning to boxing, where he turned pro in 2004.
If medically cleared, Noons is expected to box Matt Vanda (39-9) on April 18 in Minneapolis.
However, in a recent interview with MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
), Noons said he's not ruling out a return to MMA.
"I would love to be back in MMA and give the fans some good fights," Noons said. "I've already set my goals on the boxing. I'm taking these fights (with Countryman and Vanda), and then eventually down the road – as long as I can get my boxing up to par with my MMA – I would love to come back."
And while he's open to the idea of fighting for Strikeforce, which recently acquired most of the top stars from the now-defunct EliteXC organization, he's not making any definite plans.
"I can see myself in any organization," said Noons, who's been working with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. "I think Strikeforce is a great organization. (Strikeforce founder and CEO) Scott Coker is a great guy. I used to fight for him when I was 16 (years old), when he first started doing Strikeforce. I used to fight on his kickboxing cards.
"So I have a great relationship with him, but I want to keep my relationship open with everybody. I can see myself fighting anywhere. I'm just concentrating on the boxing right now, and if anything (in MMA) comes up that makes sense, I definitely want