Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr will bid to turn back the clock when they return to the ring on Saturday night for their exhibition bout in Los Angeles.
The controversial showdown between two great former champions now in their 50s has been met with understandable criticism, but record pre-fight pay-per-view sales have been reported.
Former world heavyweight champion Iron Mike, 54, who has not boxed professionally for 15 years, has shed an impressive six stones for a scheduled eight-round contest on Thanksgiving Day at the Staples Center.
Jones Jr’s comeback has raised fewer eye brows. He was still boxing in 2018 and won his last four fights, although his stoppage of Jeff Lacy in 2008 was his last notable success.
Follow the latest updates below.
Verdict from the Telegraph’s Gareth A Davies:
Tyson charging forward, double left hooks to the body of 51-year-old Jones, who clinches and ties up 54-year- old ‘Iron Mike’. Jones switches stance, gets his jab out, slips and moves. They tie up again. Tyson tries to work on the inside. Jones showing some speed and footwork. Two lefts to end the round from Tyson. They glare, then embrace.
Mike Tyson immediately goes aggressively to the body, and catches Roy Jones is caught high on the temple, writes Gareth A Davies.
Some of the old bobbing and weaving from Tyson. The two minute round is over quickly. Jones has been circling, staying away, using the ring to move.
Tyson lands a few body shots while Jones struggles to connect. There’s been nothing too major so far as each fighter gets up to speed, but Tyson edges it.
…And we’re under way, with a smattering of applause to greet the fighters. This is surreal.
What are the rules?
So, this will be different.
It’s an 8-round exhibition fight. The rounds will be 60 seconds shorter than usual – two minutes, instead of three – and the pair will use 12-ounce gloves without any protection.
There are no titles at stake, but the winner will receive a commemorative belt created for the fight.
Three judges will score it remotely, with the criteria focusing on style, technique, effective punching, effective defense and effective aggressiveness.
Well that was entertaining. Snoop Dogg has just finished a short set, meaning the main event is coming up soon.
Tale of the tape
After the paltry stats of the previous bout, these are some big numbers (and not just the age row):
Up next is the big one
Well, after that brief bout, we now have the main event coming up.
It feels like I’ve travelled back in time to say this, but …get ready for Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr.
Paul wins with ease
Robinson was floored in the first round and then again in the second. Shortly afterwards he took one to the jaw, which left him sprawled on the mat. He won’t be continuing and it took a while for him to get up.
Who are they?
Jake Paul has one bout to his name as a professional boxer. Asked why he went from YouTube to boxing, he told the Daily Beast:
“For me it made perfect sense, because it took me back to my competitive high-school self, and I’ve fallen in love with boxing over the last three years,” Paul said. “I’ve had two fights already, and it’s something that’s really helped me stay focused on becoming the best version of myself.”
Robinson, meanwhile, explained his career change from retired NBA player to boxer, telling ESPN:
“I’ve been a fan of boxing my whole life. Me and my brother, we used to slap box and use boxing gloves in the backyard with my dad. So, it’s nothing new, it’s just real business now. I’ve played in front of thousands of people my whole life hooping, so just being able to step into a realm that I’ve never been in before is challenging for me, but it’s also fun to try to see how far I really can go with this.”
….is Jake Paul and Nate Robinson. Who are they, you might ask?
Well, Nate Robinson was a basketball player who a rookie guard for the Knicks in 2005. He is making his professional boxing debut.
And Jake Paul is a YouTube star.
Badou Jack is victorious
Badou Jack is currently taking on Blake McKernan in a light heavyweight clash.
McKernan, an ex-army machine gunner and Iraq veteran a former, survived the eight rounds but it was a clear victory for Jack.
The Swede won by unanimous decision, 80-72.
Chris Eubank is confused
Gareth A Davies spoke to him in the build-up to tonight’s main event.
“No knockouts is an impossible thing to implement or to say because this is a fight. They’re punching each other in the head. What if somebody gets hit and they go down? It doesn’t make sense. It’s more of a publicity thing, they have to say that because it is an exhibition”
Oliver Brown’s view
Here’s how our chief sportswriter sees tonight’s bout. You can read his full article here.
What sticks in the craw is the dismal emasculation of it all. There will be no judges at ringside to determine a winner and, most bizarrely, no knock-outs permitted.The two wizened veterans will also be wearing enlarged 12oz gloves to diminish the power of the punches and create a larger defensive guard.
‘This is the fun part. Everything to get here was hell’
Mike Tyson stepped onto a spotlighted stage on Friday and weighed in at 220 pounds, ripping off his shirt to reveal a muscled torso that could belong to an athlete of half his 54 years.
The former heavyweight champion moved into a Covid-protective glass box and went nose-to-nose with Roy Jones Jr., once the most talented fighter in the world. Jones’ 210-pound frame was slightly less toned, but still clearly in better condition than most of his fellow 51-year-olds.
These two boxing greats are older, calmer men now, but they’re returning to the ring intending to recapture a moment of their brilliant past — and they’ve both worked very hard to make sure they won’t be embarrassed in this extraordinary boxing exhibition.
“This is the fun part,” said Tyson, who will fight for the first time in 15 years. “Everything else to get here was hell.”
Their fight at Staples Center is an eight-round sparring session of sorts. It will have two-minute rounds, no official judging and limited violence, although the limit depends on whether you’re asking the California State Athletic Commission or the fighters, who both intend to let their hands go.
“Maybe I don’t know how to go easy,” Tyson said. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want the commission mad at me.”
But for Tyson and Jones, this unique pay-per-view show is less of a sporting event and more of a chance for two transcendent athletes to prove age is a number – and aging is a choice.
“I don’t look at life as age,” Tyson said. “I look at life as energy. You don’t bring your age to the table. You bring your energy to the table. You don’t go meet people: ‘Hey, I’m Bob. I’m 59.’ You don’t do that.”
Tyson still seems surprised by the wave of events that carried him back to the ring. He admits the younger Tyson never would have believed he would be a middle-aged husband and father who needed to lose 100 pounds two years ago, because that headstrong kid from Brooklyn had never thought that far ahead.
“I didn’t even think I would live this long,” he said. “I was just so intense, and just took myself so serious.”
Tyson got back into shape at the urging of his wife, who got him to start doing 15 minutes a day on the treadmill. The 15 minutes turned into two hours, and then expanded to biking, running and eventually punching, along with the adoption of a vegan diet.
“Never eat anything,” he said with a laugh. “Just starve and exercise.”
The momentum started when he posted video of a training session on social media early in the coronavirus pandemic, and his crisp, powerful punches led to millions of impressions and a subsequent stream of increasingly lucrative comeback offers, along with the chance to raise money for charities.
“This is a part of my life that I had pretty much thrown away,” Tyson said. “My last fight, I didn’t have any interest in doing it. I’m interested in doing it now.”
Tyson is referring to his loss to journeyman Kevin McBride in 2005, when he finally wrapped up his singular career in ugly fashion. He became the heavyweight champion at 20 and reigned over the division for five years, but his epic downfall soured him on the sport.
“I want to do it now,” Tyson said. “Most of the time I was obligated to do it from a contract perspective: ‘If you don’t do this, we’ll take everything you have, and you’ll be back in Brownsville.’ They were blackmailing me. It’s a different perspective now.”
While Tyson became an international icon for his brutish, dangerous image and numerous misbehaviours, Jones was widely revered as perhaps the most skilled boxer of his generation. Jones was a preternaturally gifted athlete who dominated his weight classes while still pursuing his passion for basketball.
Nate Robinson was a rookie guard for the Knicks in 2005 when Jones participated in a full practice with the team.
“I was freaking out,” said the 36-year-old Robinson, no stranger to freakish athletic feats as a three-time winner of the NBA Slam Dunk contest at 5ft 9in. “That was one of the highlights of my life, to be able to rub shoulders and hoop with one of your favourite boxers.”
Jones fought regularly throughout the 2010s, but thought he was finally retired two years ago. When he got an offer to be the opponent in Tyson’s comeback, Jones couldn’t resist the chance to fight a legend he never got to meet during a career spent mostly at light heavyweight.
So Jones embarked on his own comeback training regimen.
“It’s been the craziest thing you ever could have imagined,” Jones said. “I can’t believe I’m able to maintain my speed at 51 years old. I’m still faster than 95% of the boxing world, and it shocks me. The aches and pains are there because you’re 50, and they’re going to be there no matter what you do. You just have to have a mental strength to overcome an adversity.”
Tyson and Jones are returning to a new world of boxing fandom and consumption. This show is being promoted by Triller, a video-making app and social media platform, with a fight-night show featuring performances by several rappers, a surprisingly solid undercard and a co-main event pitting Robinson in his professional boxing debut against YouTube star Jake Paul.
Robinson and Paul both seem appropriately awed by the circumstances of their bout.
“You’ve got to remember, I’m 23, and this is the first time that people my age will be able to experience a Mike Tyson fight live,” Paul said. “I can’t believe I’m a part of it.”
Neither Tyson nor Jones is likely done with boxing after this show. Jones said he hopes to fight mixed martial arts legend Anderson Silva next “if this one goes well,” while Tyson will go wherever this strange trip takes him next.
“Me being here is already a success,” Tyson said. “Me just existing as a human being is a success.”
Source: The Telegraph Travels