The exhibition bout between legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones was a “Curiosity” rooted in what is in many ways the question of “What If?” What if two fighters who were the cornerstones of their respective eras were to face off in the ring. Obviously, at ages fifty-four and fifty-one respectively, one should not have expected to see anything near what Tyson and Jones were during their prime years. What was the main event of the debut of Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League concept on November 28th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA did however, provide entertainment.
What was a non—competitive exhibition did resemble some competition as both Tyson and Jones showed slight glimpses of what made them great fighters. The eight round exhibition was something that was clearly meant to entertain Boxing fans of all description rather than an announcement of sorts that both fighters were using this as the first step in a comeback that would no doubt be the subject of both criticism and ridicule given both Tyson and Jones’ age.
It did not stop some however, from sharing some critical thoughts regarding the exhibition. While it can indeed be true that some fans go into fights and/or exhibition bouts expecting to see more than what is actually going to take place, it is important to keep in mind that this was always intended to be an exhibition and as such one should not have expected to see either fighter really intend to hurt the other. The bout, which was sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) also had strict guidelines to ensure the safety of both men.
What Tyson and Jones did show was that both could still move in a similar way to when they were actively competing in the sport and did periodically land hard punches on each other. Tyson in particular showed that he was still capable of landing hard thudding body punches as he seemed to hurt Jones periodically throughout. Jones meanwhile had periodic success landing his right hand and also showed, despite it being an exhibition, that he was going to be tactical and hold Tyson whenever he got close in an attempt to limit his ability to get his punches off on the inside. A tactic that many opponents of Mike Tyson attempted to implement throughout his career with some having more success than others.
Although there simply is not much one can say about an exhibition or analysis that one could offer, it was impressive in this observer’s eyes to see both Tyson and Jones not only appear to be in good condition, but also show that he did take the idea of getting back in the ring seriously, which at their ages cannot be an easy task. It does also show why no matter what one’s age or skill level that Boxing needs to be taken seriously at all times.
With this in mind, it is important to mention a bout that took place on the undercard featuring YouTube star Jake Paul and former NBA star Nate Robinson, which took place in the Cruiserweight division. Unlike the Tyson-Jones exhibition, this as well as other bouts that took place on the undercard were official professional bouts. What happened in this fight however, was frankly scary in that Nate Robinson was over matched by Paul, who has a bit more experience in the Boxing ring and who says he has ambitions of making his foray in the sport a legitimate Boxing career. Paul would score three knockdowns of Robinson in a round and a half, all of which came as a result of right hands to the head and the last of which resulted in what yours truly called on social media a scary knockout as Robinson fell face first on the canvas.
In the days since this event took place, I have seen some direct criticism towards Robinson for his performance in this fight. This observer will not be among those armchair quarterbacks who will criticize for the sake of being critical. The fact is no one really knows what type of training in preparation Robinson went through before stepping in the ring. It does however, underscore how dangerous Boxing and by extension all combat sports can be even for the most seasoned professional fighters.
As someone who has covered the sport for most of his life and has unfortunately seen tragedies occur, I was legitimately concerned for Nate Robinson’s well-being after seeing this knockout. Although we do not know if this will end up being a one-off appearance for Robinson in the Boxing ring, he is not the first nor will he likely be the last notable athlete from another sport to attempt a foray into combat sports. Robinson should be given credit for the bravery he showed by getting in the ring, but as other athletes who have attempted to cross over into Boxing and other combat sports have found out through the years, it is not always a given that success will follow them into a different sport and this should serve as another example as to why if one chooses to enter into combat sports, they need to be fully committed to it because unfortunately the dangers can and often do outweigh the rewards and if one is not prepared when they get in the ring, the outcome can be tragic. Fortunately for Nate Robinson, he was able to leave the ring under his own power and hopefully will not suffer any long-term effects from the knockout he suffered at the hands of Jake Paul.
Perhaps some of the criticism that has been directed at the Tyson-Jones exhibition in the event itself is rooted in the fact that the event was offered on a pay-per-view basis for $49.95. While this observer has long been critical and will continue to be of the overpriced and undervalued model of pay-per-view as long as said model remains in the sport of Boxing, I will not be as critical in this instance because this event was “A Curiosity” that featured not only two legends in exhibition, not only featured some professional bouts, but also featured many musical performances as well. Although some may have expected more from this, yours truly feels that if this was not a one-time only event and if the Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League concept is to go on beyond this point, this pay-per-view event might have been a way to test the waters.
With much of the Boxing world now focused on subscription-based streaming options rather than pay-per-view, perhaps future events could be featured on networks like DAZN, ESPN+, or a cable/satellite network such as Showtime, especially with Mike Tyson saying that his goal for this concept is to further humanitarian causes. As long as the fighters who participate in these “Legends” exhibitions are as healthy when they are done participating as they were before they enter the ring and safety guidelines are followed, why be critical of what could be a good thing for fighters who may not want to actively compete in the sport, but still want to participate in be involved?
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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