For Boxing fans of a certain age, there was nothing quite like the anticipation that took place before Mike Tyson entered the ring. In his prime in the 1980’s, Tyson ran through and fully unified the Heavyweight division in a near four year reign. Why was there such anticipation each time before Tyson stepped in the ring to compete? Tyson was the very definition of the term “Knockout Artist” and what made his ability to score quick knockouts even more impressive was he was scoring knockouts of many top Heavyweight contenders as well as fighters that at one time or another each held versions of the World Heavyweight championship.
In a similar way, Roy Jones carved his reputation in the 1990’s by dominating multiple weight classes with relative ease. Jones’ dominance including victories over world champions and fighters who would ultimately become Hall of Famers was in some ways similar to what Mike Tyson was able to accomplish in his prime. The question that often faced Tyson opponents during his prime was whether they would be able to survive the early rounds against a fighter who had knock out intentions with every punch he threw. Similarly, there was a significant stretch in Roy Jones’ career where if he didn’t knockout his opposition, he would often win every round of a fight making the conclusion if a bout went the distance an afterthought.
The one time where there was a possibility of the two meeting in a legitimate competitive environment in the Boxing ring was shortly after Jones moved up to Heavyweight and captured the WBA World Heavyweight championship from John Ruiz in March 2003. As most know, Jones chose instead to return to the Light-Heavyweight division where he spent much of his career. The possible clash between two legends of the sweet science remaining a “What If?” fantasy bout to be discussed and debated amongst Boxing experts and fans alike.
As we return to present day in 2020 however, the two over fifty legends will meet inside the ring, sort of, as Tyson and Jones will share the ring in an exhibition bout on Saturday, November 28th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The bout , which will headline a four fight pay-per-view card is the first event promoted under the Mike Tyson’s Legends League banner.
Although there is no disputing that had this bout taken place when both fighters were still actively competing in the sport that it probably would have been a marquee attraction that would have drawn significant interest, it is important to keep mind that this will be a non-competitive exhibition given that both fighters are fifty-four and fifty-one years old respectively and the bout will have strict guidelines under the supervision of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). While those guidelines have been rumored for months since this exhibition was initially announced, we have clarification from CSAC executive director Andy Foster who in an interview with MMA Fighting laid out the rules for this exhibition bout.
The bout will be scheduled for eight two minute rounds, Both fighters will be wearing sixteen ounce gloves. Neither fighter will be required to wear headgear. If either fighter suffers a cut, the exhibition will be stopped. Although no judges will be present, the World Boxing Council (WBC) will have guest judges who will be scoring remotely for entertainment purposes only, there will be no winner announced at the end of the exhibition. Both fighters will receive a WBC “Frontline“ Heavyweight championship belt following the exhibition.
When this exhibition was first announced, this observer immediately began having thoughts of a Boxing card I covered back in June 1999 called “Legends of Boxing.” A pay-per-view card that featured three bouts featuring fighters that were around or over the age of forty. Although the card, which had a $19.95 price point proved to be very entertaining and was headlined by the rematch between former World Heavyweight champions Larry Holmes and James “Bonecrusher” Smith, the “Legends of Boxing “ concept, which featured fully sanctioned professional bouts, did not last beyond one additional card in November 2000, which also featured Holmes in another rematch against former Heavyweight world champion Mike Weaver.
The “Legends of Boxing” concept, which was in many ways the idea of “Bonecrusher” Smith, that was intended solely for advanced-age fighters, a seniors tour of Boxing if you will, was a concept that I felt could have succeeded long-term. Perhaps due to both financial reasons as well as the possibility of fighters not necessarily wanting to be relegated to a “Legends” league of sorts could have contributed to the concept only lasting one year and only putting on two cards in that period of time.
Could this Mike Tyson’s Legends League concept be a successor of sorts to the “Legends of Boxing” concept? Time will tell, but it will be interesting to see how successful the Tyson-Jones exhibition will be in terms of pay-per-view buys given that unlike the “Legends of Boxing “ concept, this is an exhibition and will be priced at $49.99 compared to the $19.95 price point when the “Legends” concept debuted in 1999. Nevertheless, when two legends of any sport engage in a joint-venture, it will draw attention, if nothing else out of curiosity. While one probably should not expect this to be the start of a comeback for either fighter, Tyson fifteen years removed from his last professional fight and Jones having retired from active competition two years ago, this should offer entertainment for those who will be tuning in. If this exhibition does in some way serve as a launching point of a resurrected “Legends of Boxing” concept, as long as everyone participating is healthy and remains healthy after participating, it’s a win.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Tyson vs. Jones: Exhibition bout takes place on Saturday, November 28th at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The exhibition as well as its undercard can be seen on a pay-per-view basis across cable/satellite providers in the United States as well as globally on www.FITE.TV and the FITE app across mobile, and connected streaming devices, platforms, and Smart TVs for $49.99 beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT (U.S. Time) contact your local cable/satellite provider for ordering information or visit: https://www.fite.tv/watch/tyson-vs-jones-jr/2p88l/ or the FITE app to order.
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