The comedowns have gone, The Hangover has come and gone. What now – rebirth or relapse? In the early hours of this Sunday morning, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. the dust off and shuffle back to the hurt arena.
Once the meanest man in the world, Iron Mike has rusted over the years but remains one of the sport’s most enchanting characters. Jones is one of the greatest fighters of all time, climbing from middleweight to defeat the heavyweight giants.
For decades it remained a match-up reserved for wandering minds. “Bucket list material,” says Jones. Now? Reality – of sorts.
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. return to the boxing ring on November 28
Iron Mike is returning to the ring for the first time since his retirement from the sport in 2005
“The all-ages fight between two of the most recognizable athletes in history promises to be spectacular,” said BT Sport, which will broadcast the showpiece on pay-per-view.
“A boxing exhibition that brings the sport to the fore,” said WBC chairman Mauricio Sulaiman, who has prepared a special belt for both fighters.
The social video app Triller has reportedly paid around £ 40 million to stream the eight-round match at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Jones has suggested he could make £ 7.5 million from the fight – none of their big-wig donors are motivated by goodwill. And yet that smell just won’t go away.
The 54-year-old takes on fellow great Jones Jnr, 51, in a controversial fight in Los Angeles
Jones Jnr has fought into his forties and has started training people like Chris Eubank Jr.
Not just because the genius of Tyson (54) and Jones (51) has fallen into disrepair in the decades since they reigned. Not only because this circus threatens to distract the heavyweight champions of today and tomorrow. Not just because our bloodlust is stimulated by fighters closer to retirement than their best.
Something else also lingers. Jones and Tyson are among a plethora of aging heroes peering back into the gold mine – Oscar De La Hoya, 47, Evander Holyfield, 58, Floyd Mayweather, 43, and Marcos Maidana, 37, are all teasing comebacks. Sergio Martinez, 45, has already made his.
It’s a bleak familiar story. That includes the wave of celebrity fights masquerading as legitimate matches.
In Los Angeles, the ‘co-main event’ next to Tyson-Jones, YouTuber Jake Paul (1-0, 20.2 million subscribers) sees former NBA player Nate Robinson (0-0).
Patrons insist that video stars bring new fans to boxing. Many believe it makes a mockery of the sport and offends fighters vying for wealth and recognition.
Tyson has mellowed since retirement, from the once terrifying meanest man on Earth
Despite his age, Tyson looked in phenomenal shape in a series of shared training clips
That is not lost on BT viewers. Before Tyson-Jones – and available to all subscribers – Briton Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce meet in a mouth-watering heavyweight clash that deserves more exposure.
“It’s okay, it’s a great boxing night,” says Joyce. You wonder if Tyson would have been so diplomatic during his heyday.
On December 12, Anthony Joshua faces Kubrat Pulev. Had Tyson Fury’s return home on December 5 – named after Iron Mike – not ceased, the former undisputed heavyweight champion and his two apparent heirs would all have fought within 14 days of each other. Tyson earned that crown before Fury was born. What about his return, against such a shocking background?
Should we embrace this charity – Tyson has vowed to donate his battle bag – especially in such turbulent times, as Sulaiman believes.
But the match between the two boxing greats remains divisive among fans and experts
Is it a nice excuse for nostalgia? For example, David Haye is excited to see Jones – his ‘childhood hero’ – face Iron Mike.
Or, as Frank Warren puts it, is it a ‘sad’ spectacle? One that we should ignore rather than encourage.
“I think it’s strange when people say they shouldn’t come back,” said Haye, the former heavyweight king turned BT pundit. “Imagine if Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were to say” we want a practice game “.
Would the tennis world go, “This is disgusting, we don’t want to see these guys, they probably won’t be able to run more than 100mph”? No, they will say “Let’s watch and enjoy these old greats doing what they want to do”.
“That’s how I see it – two great fighters who have probably taken hundreds of thousands of punches to the head. Who cares if they want to take a few more in their 50s? ‘
Tyson and Jones Jr may be taking the shine from Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois’ fight
Promoter Frank Warren has labeled the match as a ‘sad’ spectacle between two boxing greats
Sulaiman adds: ‘We are all concerned about the age factor, but this is an exhibition.’
The California State Athletic Commission was careful enough to insist that both fighters undergo “thorough” medical examinations and doping tests. They will wear oversized gloves and have been told not to go for the knockout.
“We cannot mislead the public that this is some kind of real fight,” said committee director Andy Foster. “It’s going to look like a boxing match, but I don’t want people to get hurt.”
Easier said than done. Especially when neither Jones nor Tyson are preparing for a tickle match.
“I come to fight and I hope he comes to fight,” said Tyson, who claimed he would have to leave the family home before his alter ego takes over. Both men protested fighting ‘women’ two-minute rounds, with Jones adding, ‘Who goes into the ring with the legendary Mike Tyson and thinks it’s an exhibition?’
Former heavyweight champion David Haye has supported the fight between the two
Joyce has also expressed his intrigue about how the fight between Tyson and Jones Jr will go
Tyson hasn’t boxed professionally for 15 years when his yo-yo career ended in consecutive defeats.
The youngest ever heavyweight champion, he fought booze and drugs, bankruptcy and bipolar disorder, imprisonment, and even cannibalistic tendencies.
In 2009, the only hit that many younger fans had seen him land was in the comedy film The Hangover. He claims to be lighter than ever before since his teens, while viral workout clips suggest he can still move menacingly.
“He just looks angry,” laughs Joyce. “You wouldn’t want him on the other side of the ring.”
Haye says, “If Tyson throws five bursts, five to 10 seconds each, I think it’s over. He knocked Jones out or he knocked himself out. ‘
But does boxing have to wonder if it’s okay for two men in their 50s to enter the ring?
Anyway, people will tune in to see if some of the meanest guy on the planet is left
Jones’ road was no less rocky. He fought until 2018 when he was 49. He is now training Chris Eubank Jr. After fights to Latvia and Russia – where he earned the citizenship of Vladimir Putin.
“We’re freaks,” says Jones. “That’s why this is such a big thing.”
But what now? Tyson insists his comeback will last until his Legends Only League (a venture to bring back sporting icons) has run out of legs.
“I’m going to help a lot of people and my legend will be that I gave way more than I took,” he said.
That doesn’t sound much like old Iron Mike, who once said he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis’s kids.
The cold truth? Anyone who tunes in on a Sunday morning hopes that at least some piece of that meanest man remains.
BT Sport’s night of heavyweight action on Nov. 28 kicks off with Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce on BT Sport 1 from 7.30pm. Tyson v Jones Jnr will be live on BT Sport Box Office from 1am and can be viewed on BT TV, Virgin TV, Sky, online via the internet or the BT Sport Box Office app.