A cameo, not a comeback

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Boxing fans should just take the upcoming Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. fight for what it is: two legends who just feel the need to scratch a boxing itch and make good money out of it.

In the first place, it is not even a legitimate contest. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which is supervising the affair, has listed the November 29 (Manila time) meeting between Tyson and Jones as a mere exhibition fight. The standard rules of boxing have even been altered to fit the physical limitation of the boxers. The “fight” will only be for eight rounds and each round will only have a two-minute duration instead of the usual three. The boxers will also be required to use bigger, 12-ounce gloves to cushion the impact of their punches.

The CSAC will also be imposing a rather funny “No Knockout Rule.” There is no need for Tyson or Jones to be really knocked out. If the referee believes one of them is no longer fit to continue, the fight will be automatically stopped. Yes, the referee can stop the fight on the mere sight of Tyson or Jones breathing heavily and wobbling even if no serious punch has been thrown or landed.

The CSAC originally pondered on requiring headgears, but the fighters and promoter opposed it for marketing purposes. The fight, it figures, would be difficult to sell if the faces of Tyson and Jones are covered by headgears. The CSAC agreed to lift the headgear requirement on the condition that the fight will be automatically stopped if one fighter sustains a cut.

Oh, no judges will be present at ringside to score and determine the winner if the fight goes the full route. The fight being a mere exhibition, no official winner will be declared. Then again, the WBC is handing out a meaningless “franchise belt” and will be tapping three unofficial judges to score the fight. The winner, from the standpoint of the WBC, will be given the Mickey Mouse belt.

Tyson, 54, stands to make a whole lot of money if everything goes according to plan. He has been reportedly guaranteed $10 million but could end up with more depending on the pay-per-view income of the contest.

Tyson earned more than $300 million during his heyday but declared bankruptcy in 2003. He has somehow recovered in large part because of successful podcasts, appearances in movies and a thriving cannabis farm. Tyson’s net worth these days has been placed in the vicinity of $3 million and the $10 million payday will definitely go a long way.

Jones, 51, needs the money, too. Despite earning more than $50 million during his glory days, he filed for bankruptcy in 2014 or just before it was disclosed that he owed the Internal Revenue Service some $3 million in back taxes. Jones blew away his fortune on costly real estate ventures and botched boxing promotions. He tried to open his own music studio, but it also failed miserably. Jones is getting a 50-50 split with Tyson on the pay-per-view income and a guaranteed purse. Jones’ biggest payday was the guaranteed $10 million check (plus share in the pay-per-view) he got for his 2003 victory over then WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz. He may end up receiving the same amount for the Tyson fight.

Officials of the CSAC are reminding Tyson and Jones to take everything lightly. They can figure in some hard sparring, but nobody has to be seriously hurt. Tyson is promising fireworks, but it may be just to sell the fight. Jones, for dramatic purposes, is painting himself as the huge underdog. The CSAC wants the boxers to just show flashes of brilliance and make good money out of it.

If the exhibition is successful and rakes in a lot of dough, Tyson-Jones may just be the first of many exhibitions featuring legends from different sports. Tyson has joined forces with a financier to put up the “Legends Only League,” which plans to stage pay-per-view events featuring retired legends. Tyson is already talking of a one-on-one basketball game between Dennis Rodman and Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) and even a tennis match featuring John McEnroe and Serena Williams.

Easy, Mike. Just put on a show and take care of Jones first. The remaining shows in the carnival will follow.

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