Nobody quite understands the etiquette of an exhibition boxing match, whatever that really means, so nobody knows what to expect when Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr step into the ring together.
The legends of American boxing – Tyson is 54 and Jones 51 – will meet on September 12 over eight rounds. They are expected to wear larger than normal gloves and maybe headgear too.
Four-weight world champion Jones Jr had his 75th and final fight two years ago, then aged 49. He always had trouble saying goodbye to the ring even when it stopped treating him so well. He retired in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida, at the same arena that hosted his debut in 1989 but, even during the delivery of his retirement speech, he called out UFC star Anderson Silva for one final fight.
Jones Jr fought once in 2018, once in 2017 and twice in 2016 since he was brutally knocked out by Enzo Maccarinelli. He has fought 23 times since Tyson’s final fight in 2005 including against Antonio Tarver, Felix Trinidad, Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins.
Jones Jr, in his final fights, was nothing like the ring great who won world titles at middleweight and heavyweight. But Tyson was a shadow of himself in defeats to Danny Williams and Kevin McBride before his retirement, a full 15 years ago.
Tyson has been posting impressive videos of himself training online – the youngest ever heavyweight champion is now 34 years removed from that defining achievement but, over the course of five second clips, looks terrifying.
Tyson vs Jones Jr will be to launch ‘Iron Mike’s new venture ‘Legends Only League’ which “will support athletes in their individual sports, creating some of the most epic competitions, products and live events in the world”.
The California State Athletic Commission, who will licence Tyson and Jones Jr, said that this will not be a regular boxing match. “In this match, the referee will have the authority to stop the fight if it strays outside the boundaries of a competitive boxing exhibition,” a statement from the commission read.
“Mr. Tyson and Mr. Jones Jr will have to submit all CSAC medical tests for fighters over 40 as well as CSAC’s emergency regulations that have been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The commission’s executive director Andy Foster stated: “This isn’t a situation where they’re going out there to try to take each other’s heads off.”
We don’t know how seriously the ‘fight’ will be taken between Tyson and Jones Jr but, if they revert to type, it is the latter who has been competitive far more frequently and recently.