It’s a fight. It’s a bout… It’s a glorified sparring session.
After 15 years, Mike Tyson returns to the ring this Saturday against another former heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. But don’t expect ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ to go hard or draw blood. The eight-round contest between Tyson (54) and Jones (51) in Carson, California is an ‘exhibition’. And despite a belt on the line, and judges scoring, there will be no “official winner”.
Safety is paramount. Instead of the usual three-minute rounds and 10oz gloves reserved for professional heavyweights, Tyson and Jones will box each other for eight two-minute rounds, wearing 12oz gloves to lessen the impact of blows. The two will not be wearing headgears. “Not a real fight? It’s Mike Tyson versus Roy Jones,” Tyson said at a press conference last month. “I’m coming to fight and I hope he’s coming to fight and that’s all you need to know.”
The referee, however, will stop the contest in case of a cut, or if either boxer goes too hard since knockouts are not allowed.
Tyson and Jones underwent strenuous medical tests in order to be cleared for the bout and both entered VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) testing too.
The California State Athletic Commission is sanctioning the bout as an exhibition with no official winner.
“I want the public to know what this is because I don’t want people to be disappointed. As long as they know this is an exhibition, I’m fine for everybody to earn,” CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster told MMA Fighting earlier this week.
World Boxing Council (WBC) however has invited ex-fighters as remote celebrity judges for the contest, and the “unofficial scores are for entertainment only”. WBC was also the first governing body to create and throw a belt in the ring, a ‘Frontline’ title. But with no winner, both Tyson and Jones will be awarded.
To make matters more confusing, in an apparent bid to sell the fight, broadcasters claimed: “There could be a knockout and there will be one winner.”
“Know there have been some false rumours swirling, so to be crystal clear – the WBC is scoring the fight,” Ryan Kavanaugh, co-owner of the entertainment platform Triller which has secured broadcasting rights, said. “There could be a knockout and there will be one winner. Anyone who says there is going to be no judging or no winner either does not understand the rules or has their own agenda.”
Kavanaugh later issued a clarification, stating, “WBC is scoring under a 10-9, and a knockout will be a win under WBC’s scoring. The results will not be reflected on their fight record. We apologize for any confusion…”
So while the WBC will declare a ‘winner’, the commission will not recognise the result.
Before Tyson and Jones make their walk to the ring, you can catch a YouTuber fight a former NBA point guard. Jake Paul will take on former New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls’ Nate Robinson in the semi-main event. Paul made his pro-boxing debut in January, knocking out internet personality ‘AnEsonGib’ in the first round.
The 23-year-old earlier Paul competed in 2018, fighting fellow YouTuber Deji on a card headlined by the pair’s elder brothers: Logan Paul vs KSI. The event drew an estimated 1.3mn pay-per-view (PPV) buys and kickstarted the trend of internet personalities taking up boxing.
While some viewed the fight — and the choice of putting two world-title bouts on the undercard — an insult to boxing, professional boxers were encouraging, including Tyson who watched the bout from the ringside.
Not much is known about 36-year-old Robinson’s boxing skills, other than a few videos of hitting the mitts.
Also fighting on the night will be legitimate prospects such as lightweight Jamaine Ortiz and featherweight Edward Vasquez, who have been given the prelim spots.
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