No, the boxing event of the year didn’t end in some sort of thunderous knockout as many fans had hoped. The much-hyped exhibition bout between boxing legends “Iron” Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. was more a display of skill, if anything — the kind both men were known for in their time plying the professional ranks.
Despite the lack of an exciting finish, audiences from around the world were treated to an enjoyable scrap, with both men reminding fans equally of their greatness on multiple occasions. In the end, Tyson and Jones fought to a surprising draw after eight rounds of decent action.
Tyson, 54, who hadn’t fought professionally since his 2005 stoppage loss to Kevin McBride, surprisingly looked the fresher of the two after the final bell. Jones, 51, was visibly exhausted and breathing heavily from the mouth just after the first round.
A rejuvenated Tyson was a picture of calm and composure, and seemed to have turned back the clock a few years enough to entertain fans.
“I’m used to doing it for three minutes. Sometimes, that two minutes felt like three minutes. I’m happy I got this under my belt to keep doing this and go further,” Tyson said after the bout, hinting at wanting to continue on his ‘Legends Only League.’
Jones, on the other hand, was more reluctant to offer plans for the future, simply stating that it was “hard to say” whether he will continue to fight or not.
“Everybody loves Mike, I love Mike, too, but it’s something else taking punches. I’ll talk to my family, but if everybody enjoyed what they saw, we’ll do it again,” Jones added.
Nevertheless, it was a terrific showcase of skill and talent for fans who wanted to see their heroes perform in the ring one more time. Action induced rousing bits of thrilling punch exchanges, featuring Tyson’s signature hooks and aggressiveness. On the other end of the spectrum, flashes of Jones’ speed and boxing brilliance shone through in brief spots.
There were moments when Tyson was definitely gunning for a knockout, after the former undisputed heavyweight champion had Jones hurt in the later rounds, but the latter instead used his experience and ring savvy to hold Tyson off in the clinch all throughout the contest.
Tyson tried to dig into Jones’ midsection in hopes of slowing down the former Olympic silver medallist. The 54-year-old formerly known as “The Baddest Man on the Planet” ripped Jones with slicing hooks to the head and body, behind his trademark Peek-a-Boo style. Many of Tyson’s power shots seemed to affect Jones, especially as the bout wore on.
Jones, in response, railed off multiple punch combinations that often found their mark. Unfortunately, Jones’ power had little effect on Tyson who moved forward the entire fight undeterred.
A Fight for the Fans
As Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League will undoubtedly continue, it’s good to make a few points clear.
One, this clearly was an exhibition bout all across the board, and the two men were not going at full capacity. It was a glorified sparring session, albeit spicier than the norm, that was aimed at raising funds for charity.
Secondly, it didn’t even have real boxing judges sitting ringside. The WBC, which helped organize the unsanctioned bout, assigned former boxers Chad Dawson, Christy Martin, and Vinny Pazienza as remote judges, and their scores were posted on the stream after every round.
Lastly, and this is the most important part, it was a fun fight for fans who got to witness two boxing demigods spar for a great cause.
“I was very happy to be here,” Tyson expressed, after saying he was good with the final outcome. “I just want to do this — this is bigger than fighting for championships. We’re humanitarians, we’re helping people. I’m into that now.”
Jones, however, appeared disappointed with the result, saying, “I wear draws, I don’t do draws.”
Tyson and Jones combined for a whopping 105 years in total age — an incredible statistic in hindsight.
What’s next for Tyson?
“Iron” Mike appears intent to continue with his legends tour, with perhaps former adversary Evander Holyfield on the horizon. The two had a pair of high-profile showdowns in the 90’s, with Tyson infamously biting off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear in their last bout.
Tyson and Holyfield have since patched up their differences and are good friends today.
Elsewhere on the Staples Center-hosted extravaganza, YouTube star Jake Paul scored a vicious second-round knockout of former basketball star and NBA Slam Dunk Champion Nate Robinson, while Badou Jack took care of business against Blake McKernan in an uneventful unanimous decision victory.