The highly publicized Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. “exhibition” bout, originally scheduled on September 12 in California, has been moved to November 28. Organizers can only say that the fight was postponed to “maximize the revenue,” but that is just scratching the surface.
Tyson’s impending return to the fight game emanated from his training workouts that drew a lot of “likes” on social media. The former heavyweight champion talked about re-energizing the division he ruled with impunity in the 1980s. Not a few fans lapped it up when Tyson talked about rubbing mitts with reigning heavyweight king Tyson Fury, albeit in an exhibition bout. There were even rumors of Tyson making a crossover to the world of mixed martial arts. Clearly, fans salivated at such thoughts.
In the end, though, Tyson settled for Jones. In a snap of a finger, a number of fans were turned off.
Jones, 51, is not even a legitimate heavyweight. He did make a cameo in the division in March 2003 when he defeated the pedestrian John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight plum. Jones’ stay in the weight class was over in a wink of an eye as he immediately returned to the light heavyweight (175 lbs).
The Ruiz fight was Jones’ last stellar performance. From 2004 to 2005, he lost three straight fights, two by knockout. Mind you, Jones did not just get knocked out; he was brutally decapitated by light heavyweights Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. We are talking here of Jones already unconscious even before he hit the canvas with a resounding thud.
More brutal knockout losses followed, even against foes who would have fallen from a mild sneeze from a prime Jones. In December 2009, Jones was pulverized in just one round by Australian Danny Green. In May 2011, Jones ran out of steam against Denis Lebedev and was battered in 10 rounds.
Immediately after the choice of Jones as Tyson’s next foe was announced, a number of highly respected boxing personalities raised serious concerns about Jones’ health.
World Boxing Council head honcho Mauricio Sulaiman averred that the boxers should be made to wear headgears and use bigger gloves for their own safety. Former heavyweight champion George Foreman also expressed the same sentiment, even noting that, while Tyson looked impressive in his workouts, the videos only showed portions of what the fans wanted to see.
Tyson is 54 years old and has not fought in 15 years. Before being forced to retire in 2005, Tyson had been knocked out in three of his last four fights. Jones last fought in 2018. Jones actually won his last four fights, but the knockout defeats he suffered starting with the 2004 fight with Tarver were all brutal.
The fact that the organizers asked for additional time to “maximize” revenue shows that the interest in the fight may not be that overwhelming. The announcement of Tyson returning to the fight game definitely hit the roof, but the excitement has simmered down with the choice of Jones. This does not even include the realization that it is just an eight-round exhibition bout. The result will not be reflected in the fighters’ records. There will be no judges because if the fight goes the distance, it will automatically be declared a draw.
There are also several issues that have to be addressed. There is the nagging issue on the need to use headgears because it is just an exhibition fight. This does not sit well with the organizers because it will affect the fight’s marketability. Fans want to see Tyson and Jones going eyeball to eyeball. This will be difficult to achieve if both fighters will be required to wear headgears that will literally hide their faces.
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is reportedly not leaning on requiring headgears. But there is also the issue on whether the boxers should be required to undergo drug testing and other rigid health checkups. In boxing years, Tyson and Jones are already in their “senior” years and their health must be thoroughly scrutinized. There are, however, some quarters claiming that tests may not be necessary because the boxers will just figure in an exhibition tussle. It is worth noting that there were reports that Jones tested positive for steroids in a 2000 fight. Tyson, of course, has a history of drug use.
CSAC executive officer Andy Foster has also been quoted as saying that since Tyson-Jones is only an exhibition, the boxers would be prohibited from inflicting serious damage on each other. Such a statement, or prohibition, definitely dampens a fan’s enthusiasm. The boxers are trying to talk tough in an attempt to sell the fight that will be made available via pay-per-view for close to $50. Jones is reportedly livid at the idea of being required to throw just pillow punches. You can understand Jones’ situation: he is already the smaller fighter and the last thing he wants is to parry Tyson’s vicious attacks with powder-puff blows.
Lastly, there is the matter of the crowd-less venue. Word is that Tyson’s team moved for the rescheduling hoping that the situation will improve by November and the fight with Jones can be held before a live audience. The sporting world is reeling from the effects of the coronavirus and while the NBA and the UFC have resumed operations, the arena remains empty. As of press time, Tyson-Jones is still expected to be held at the Dignity Health Park in Carson, California. However, if the situation does improve by November, the organizers might just scout for a bigger venue.
For a fight that is scheduled for only eight rounds, setting up Tyson-Jones is proving to be burdensome.
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