Mike Tyson showed glimpses of his destructive heyday on Saturday night when the 54-year-old boxing icon returned to the ring for a heated exhibition match with Roy Jones Jr., 51.
Both fighters had impressive moments during a fight which was unofficially judged by the WBC ringside judges. Tyson and Jones played eight two-minute rounds, and both came out smiling and seemingly healthy from a very unusual event at Staples Center.
“It’s better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said of the heavyweight exhibit, which has raised money for various charities. “We are humanitarians now. We can do something good for the world. We have to start over. ”
The former heavyweight champion returning to the ring after a 15-year absence has garnered international attention, and Iron Mike has done his best to show off the form that has made him legendary to a generation of fans. boxing. Tyson tagged Jones with body punches and a handful of punches to the head in a bout that was to be a glorious enough safe bout by the California State Athletic Commission.
“The body shots have definitely taken their toll,” said Jones, the former four-division world champion considered the most talented boxer of his generation. “It’s something to take the punches Mike throws. I’m cool with a draw. Maybe we can do it again.
Jones walked to the ring with gloves and trunks in honor of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, while Tyson wore his all-black boxer shorts. Following the traditional pre-fight pomp and an introduction by Michael Buffer, the 50-something champions both came out throwing punches that conjured up echoes of their glorious firsts.
They also frequently strapped inside and their sometimes labored breathing could be heard over the microphones in the empty arena.
Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg’s witty TV commentary was among the loudest noises inside Staples, and it had a handful of zingers: “It’s like two of my uncles are fighting. on the barbecue! ”
Tyson and Jones were headliners at the most unlikely pay-per-view event in years, designed by social media app Triller and featuring fights interspersed with hip-hop performances in an empty arena .
The event was ridiculed as an unsportsmanlike spectacle by some critics, but Tyson and Jones appeared to handle each other competently and safely. Fans were clearly in love, with the series gaining huge popularity on social media.
“I hit you with a few good punches, and you took it,” Tyson said. “I respect that. ”
In the co-main event, YouTube star Jake Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson, stopped in the second round of Robinson’s professional boxing debut. Paul, in his second professional fight, recorded three knockdowns against Robinson, the three-time NBA Slam Dunk contest champion, before an overhand right put Robinson flat in his face and seemingly unconscious.
Tyson retired from boxing in 2005, claiming he no longer had “the guts or the fighting heart” after stopping in a dismal loss to his mate Kevin McBride. Finally freed from the relentless pressure of his sport, Tyson gradually turned his life around, ridding himself of a self-proclaimed drug addiction and eventually succeeding in performing, performing on stage, charity work and even growing marijuana all over the place. settling into a comfortable family life in Las Vegas with his third wife. and their children.
The idea of a return to boxing seemed absurd, but Tyson got into this unlikely fight when he started doing 15 minutes a day on a treadmill a few years ago at his wife’s behest in the goal to lose 100 pounds. Workouts quickly became hours-long affairs encompassing biking, running and finally punching as he regained some measure of his athletic peak through discipline and a vegan diet.
Tyson posted a video of himself hitting tampons on social media at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and the overwhelming response from the public led to several lucrative offers for a ringback. With the possibility of making money for himself and for charity, Tyson finally agreed – but he had to find an opponent.
Jones fought regularly until his late forties, but believed he was done with the sport after winning his last fight in 2018. He couldn’t resist the chance to face Tyson afterwards. that the greats never met in their first professional careers because Tyson was a heavyweight. and Jones was primarily a light heavyweight (175 lbs).
Tyson and Jones negotiated with the California Commission over the limits of their fight, ultimately coming to eight, two-minute rounds of tough fighting with only ceremonial judgment and no official winner. The WBC has always stepped in to award a “frontline combat belt” ceremony to both fighters.