Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr look back but boxing is not a game at any age | sport

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Boxing lived up to its reputation as a theater of the unexpected with Saturday night’s highly anticipated exhibition bout between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that great.
The two 50-year-old fistic legends fought for an unofficial draw during their eight-round release, which featured a fast-paced and sleek TV show produced by a premier broadcaster filled with surprisingly entertaining fights and seamlessly integrated musical performances.

Yes, the main event was the nostalgic porn that promised customers a glimpse into what made Tyson and Jones such convincing athletes in their prime. But it was unlikely. Tyson spent most of the night squarely in his opponent’s chest, conjuring the energy to explode with a combination once or twice per turn. Jones, weighed down by inferior conditioning, spent most of the night keeping his distance, seeking to peck with kickbacks.

As it was sanctioned as an exhibition, there was no official rating. But the World Boxing Council tasked three veterans with tagging him from a distance and making an unofficial result. Christy Martin scored 79-73 for Tyson, Vinny Pazienza (absurdly) had 80-76 for Jones while Chad Dawson scored it 76-76. (The Guardian had 79-73 for Tyson.)

Expectations for the event were so low that anything but a total farce could have been considered a victory. But the whole event went so well that afterwards Tyson was seething with enthusiasm to do it again as soon as possible.

The former undisputed heavyweight world champion said he wanted to fight “once every two months” during a lengthy post-fight press conference, mainly to support his charitable efforts. “It’s better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said. “We are now humanitarians. We can do something good for the world. We have to start over. He added: “It has to be competitive. Once, I had 15 fights in a year. Let’s just try to work closer to that. ”

It wasn’t long before the idea arose of Tyson fighting exhibitions against the current heavyweight champions, a prospect the self-proclaimed “selfish” hasn’t dismissed outright. “They could probably take me now, but could they take me 10 fights later – if I have 10 fights?” ” he said.

Let’s not get carried away. Remember, the California State Athletic Commission approved Saturday’s event as an exhibit, and not without criticism. Tyson and Jones fought two-minute rounds instead of the usual three and used the larger 12oz gloves, which provide less force than the standard 10oz for heavyweights. The highly controlled setting ensured the safety of the fighters. Andy Foster, the executive director of the CSAC, said Tyson and Jones would be kept on a short leash and the referee would be ready with a quick hook to step in if he got hairy. “We can’t mislead the public because it’s kind of a real fight. They can get in there a bit, but I don’t want people to get hurt. They know the deal.

Tyson, who weighed 220 lbs, radically changed his lifestyle by losing over 100 lbs on the road home from Saturday, going on a vegan diet, and going from 15 minutes a day on a treadmill to a workout schedule. exhaustive workout involving running, cycling and punching. It’s an inspiring story in every way. But in this case, the journey must be the reward.

A stark reminder of the dangers of our cruelest sport came just before Saturday’s main event, when YouTube influencer Logan Paul took on Nate Robinson, who was making his professional boxing debut. Robinson played basketball and football at the University of Washington before continuing his 10-year career in the NBA, which included three NBA slam dunk competition titles despite his modest 5-foot-9 stature. But not all of the innate athleticism in the world is a substitute for the tenacity and punching insight that boxing demands. He went down three times out of eight punches, the last of which left him motionless and face down on the canvas for several anxious minutes. You don’t play boxing.

Seeing Tyson fending off the encroachment of time and struggling to briefly regain the form of his youth represents the longing for a time when we were younger, maybe a little fitter and happier, less weighed down by the advancement. years. But no matter how unexpectedly good he is in brief flashes in an exhibition that has exceeded all expectations, he shouldn’t be allowed to risk his long-term health in anything that looks like actual combat under any circumstances. Another 16-minute hit-and-riggle with Evander Holyfield in a controlled setting is one thing. A modified intergenerational session with Deontay Wilder is another. After all this time, Tyson no longer needs to sacrifice himself for our entertainment.

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