In a bout only 2020 could produce, Mike Tyson, the slugger known for becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history at the age of just 20 in 1986, will return to the ring tonight against fellow former boxing champion, Roy Jones Jr. for an eight-round exhibition bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on pay-per-view.
Now 54, Tyson has reformed his image in more recent years, as the volatile and talented athlete shed light on his traumatic upbringing through his autobiography and one-man stage show, Undisputed. From being rescued from poverty by his mentor Cus D’Amato in his teens, his rise to championship glory, prison, addiction, and ultimately redemption, the boxing public saw the trajectory of his life change. Shady business deals with Don King and struggles with drugs took the once mighty boxer to rock bottom. Through his recovery and a renewed level of exposure with his association of cartoons and social media projects, the humanity of “Iron” Mike finally eclipsed the cold stare that he brought to the ring in his heyday. In many ways, Tyson was reintroduced to pop culture as a statesman of the sports world, often seen ringside for UFC cards and throwing out the occasional first pitch at baseball games. Perhaps more than anything, interviews with Mike Tyson today are almost sentimental for the happiness he projects, and with as many cautionary tales are there are in sports, it’s nice to see that he spends his days with a smile on his face, as opposed to the volcano he was on camera when he took questions in his prime. His diagnosis of bi-polar disorder revealed much of his battle with mental illness outside of the ring. Despite his violence legacy with the gloves, it’s somewhat endearing to see that Tyson made it through the hardships in his life to find some level of peace.
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. weigh in and come face-to-face before their fight tomorrow.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 27, 2020
Still with an aura around him, Mike made news on social media within the past year, as the former champion’s workouts on social media showed him looking crisps and sharp, almost resembling his skills inside the ring. Of course, speculation swirled of a potential comeback, with many referring back to another heavyweight return to the ring, George Foreman, who recaptured the gold when he began a 10-year run that followed a decade away from the sport. In truth, Tyson’s speed in his 50s was very impressive, but the chance at a story book ending for him was just too risky. He’s in great shape, but he was a smaller heavyweight in his prime, and a potentially devastating knockout by one of the current fighters in the division isn’t worth the potential damage it could cause, especially because Tyson got himself into such tremendous physical condition during the past few years.
— The 220 Podcast (@The220Podcast) November 28, 2020
Roy Jones Jr., a slick and dynamic fighter in his heyday, actually continued to compete against marginal fighters for championships in Europe, and on the smaller circuit in the United States as recent as early 2018 when he officially hung up his gloves following a unanimous decision victory against the virtually unknown Scott Sigmon, but he hadn’t been truly competitive in the ring in almost a decade prior. When he wasn’t outclassing ham-and-eggers on the regional scene, Roy was known to most fans as an analyst for HBO, which sadly discontinued its boxing division after a 45-year run on the network in 2018.
The bottom line is, this pay-per-view card is quite literally a glorified exhibition, as it’s a chance for fans to see the older stars get in the ring again. It has the ingredients of a sideshow spectacle, as Jake Paul, some dummy from Youtube that had one fight earlier this year, will compete against former NBA player, Nate Robinson. The rest of the under card are so unknown that they could probably be in the witness protection program.
Still, this isn’t necessarily just a money grab. The Tyson/Jones bout is being sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission and there will be judges to score the fight. While the two main event boxers are definitely getting a decent payday to put the gloves on again, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a few charities. Plus, this return bout wasn’t thrown together to just make a quick dollar. In fact, if Tyson’s workout sessions weren’t noticed on social media, this event probably wouldn’t have been promoted. That being said, it’s doubtful that there will be any highlight reel moments from this contest and outside of a few thrilling flurries from Tyson, neither fighter will probably take much damage.
The only major variable is how the fight sells to the general public. Tyson hadn’t competed for 15 years after a lackluster loss to Kevin McBride saw the conclusion of his boxing career. Despite Jones’ involvement, as mentioned, he competed until 2018 so the draw to this event is will the casual fan pay to watch Mike Tyson return to the ring? I could be wrong, but if I had to guess, I would say that the buy rate does moderately well, but nothing too spectacular. The $50 price tag for literally exhibition fights during the economic difficulties of the pandemic might make it a tougher sell to the general public. However, the interesting note might be, if the Tyson/Jones bout draws solid numbers, could there be other nostalgia events for stars of the past? As for a winner, I will pick Tyson via decision, simply based on the amount of training he did and he looks to be prepared for the fight.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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