- Mike Tyson’s exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jr. is the boxing equivalent of a circus act.
- It’s not a real fight, as evidenced by the fact that there won’t be judges and the pair have been forbidden from going for a knockout.
- Tyson showed how serious he is about his September 12 exhibition with Jones Jr. when he signed the contract while smoking marijuana.
- It is already building toward being one of the most talked-about combat sports events of 2020 even though the fighters have a combined age of 105.
- Boxing, you see, has tremendous appeal when it’s at its most ridiculous.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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I’m glad we’ve arrived at the part of the pandemic when Mike Tyson can now meet Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition.
It feels like a good turning point.
I would say only 2020 could serve up such a circus act, but abominations are what boxing loves to produce, as this is a sport which refuses to stray far from its fairground booths from back in the day.
Think about what the sport of fighting actually entails for one moment and we can surely all agree that there is nothing normal about repeatedly hitting another person in the head until they collapse, sometimes through the ropes, bleeding over those who paid enough money to sit close enough to get bled on.
Whoever stays standing, wins. That is the essence of this twisted game, and some of those who participate, promote, or observe all find themselves in increasingly bizarre situations.
That could be Floyd Mayweather, who in 2017 boxed Conor McGregor in a landmark crossover bout in which some people actually tipped McGregor — a boxing debutant — to have success against the greatest to lace them up this side of the millennium.
Or that could be the 2019 scrap between two YouTube creators KSI and Logan Paul, and the promoter — Eddie Hearn — who said the novelty act could create many new fans of the sport.
Now, we’ve got two all-time greats returning to the ring in their 50s to take part in an eight-round exhibition, throwing fists for our guilty pleasure on September 12 in a California event called “Frontline Battle.”
Only it won’t be a battle, it will be a glorified spar regardless of Tyson saying he’s in “search and destroy” mode and is gunning for the knockout.
In an exhibition with Corey Sanders 14 years ago, Tyson could have had his dancing partner on the floor, concussed and beaten, but he knew the role he had to play and held him up on his feet so he could survive.
Jones Jr. gave a bit more of an honest preview, saying recently that he just wants “to box, have a good time, and give people a good show.”
That, really, is what this is all about — putting on a good show for the people who want to see the baddest man on the planet in the 1980s in the same ring as the most athletic and gifted fighter of the 1990s. But happening in 2020.
This isn’t going to be fought with bad intentions and there aren’t even going to be judges at ringside to provide a verdict on who won and who lost.
Should the bout last all eight rounds, which it most likely will, it will end with an automatic draw.
Both men will raise their hands, give each other a hug, and there’ll probably then be talk about Tyson and Evander Holyfield, or Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins.
The talk will concern real fights, but will never materialize in a pro setting.
But who will tune in — particularly at a $49.99 pay-per-view price point — when its pretty obvious the fight will end on good terms?
Tyson may hype the knockout, but he showed how serious he is about this whole thing when he signed the contract while smoking what appeared to be marijuana.
But, look. I’ve never lied to you and I’m not going to start now. Truth be told, I love the goddamn circus.
“Freakshow fights are often a good boost for business,” the combat sports website Sherdog noted last year.
So bring me your landmark MMA vs. boxing bouts, bring me your YouTube novelties, and bring me your exhibitions involving the fight game’s veterans.
I’ll always pay, if not travel, so I can get close enough to be bled on. I actually get a kick out of seeing my combat sports unapologetically defiling itself in front of me.
Boxing may have returned earlier this summer with Top Rank’s summer series, and then again last weekend with Premier Boxing Champions and Matchroom Boxing back in business after a coronavirus-induced hiatus.
But only when the carnival acts get booked — like Tyson and Jones Jr. —do I feel like this game truly has come back.
Boxing has tremendous appeal when it is at it’s most ridiculous, and it probably won’t get more ridiculous than this in 2020 … though there’s still time.