Mike Tyson shows flashes of the headhunter in unofficial draw with Roy Jones Jr.

November 29, 2020

Mike Tyson showed flashes of his younger years in exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jr.

(Photo courtesy of Triller and Joe Scarnici)

Former boxing greats Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. fought an exhibition fight on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tyson was definitely the one that looked sharper throughout, ripping shots to the body throughout, but it was clear that neither was going headhunting.

Many questioned the logic of Tyson returning to the ring at 54 years of age, although he was doing so opposite a 51-year-old Jones. Tyson, however, hadn’t fought since 2005, having lost 3 of his final four bouts at the time. Jones, meanwhile, had remained active through February 2018, having gone 12-1 in his last 13 bouts.

The California State Athletic Commission signed off on the bout, though it was classified as an exhibition. The bout was supposed to be, in essence, hard sparring, with neither man looking for a knockout. That seemed a bit hard to swallow, especially considering Tyson knocked out 44 opponents in his 50 career victories and Jones KO’d 47 opponents in his 66 victories.

The commission also refused to provide judges or announce a winner for the bout because of it being considered an exhibition. As part of the entertainment aspect of Tyson vs. Jones, however, the WBC provided remote scoring via celebrity judges, though they declared the outcome a draw.

Tyson came out showing some good hand speed, especially at 54 years of age. He quickly went to work on the body, only occasionally swinging for the head. Jones seemed a bit overwhelmed at first, but then settled down, crouching and trying to work his jab.

The first round definitely lived up to the hard sparring terms. It didn’t appear that Tyson was holding much back, but wasn’t quite the headhunter of his younger years, where he frequently took opponents out in the first three rounds.

Round two started with Tyson again storming across the ring and working the body before getting his jab going, snapping Jones’s head back. Jones landed a few stinging jabs of his own, but employed a strategy of darting in and out, engaging much less frequently than Tyson.

Tyson was throwing heavy leather, landing hard to the body, but mostly avoiding the big power punches to the head.

Tyson and Jones clinched early in the third frame, working each other with shots to the body, though Tyson’s legendary power was still on display in his punches. At 54 years of age, that power may not be what it once was, but it is still at the core of Tyson’s ability.

Just before the midway point, Tyson was still storming across the ring, the quicker fighter to engage. Jones was quicker to clinch, perhaps tiring, as Tyson ripped a couple hard right hands to the body, clearly following the athletic commission’s edict to avoid going for the knockout. If ever Jones was wide open for the head shot, it was after those brutal body blows.

Jones slumped on the stool in between rounds, gasping, while Tyson appeared to be winded, but recovering quickly. He proved his stamina by again racing across the ring to start the fifth frame, blasting away at Jones’s midsection.

Jones showed his weariness, again quick to clinch and work short shots to the body. Tyson backed up and landed a left hook to the head rocked caught Jones. He kept after Jones, firing off a solid combination in the waning seconds of round five that sent Jones again gasping to his corner.

When the bell rang for the sixth round, Tyson was still moving quickly, bobbing and weaving, firing off quick shots that Jones couldn’t avoid; nor could he answer. Tyson started to swing with the big clubs, Jones doing all he could just to avoid the shots.

Jones let loose with a few punch combinations to show his hand speed at the beginning of round seven, but they were all air punches. He didn’t look like he was even trying to land them. Tyson, however, kept pressing forward, landing body blows, as Jones did his best to slide away and avoid the shots.

Another quick clinch started the final round, but Tyson pushed away and ripped a couple shots to the body. Jones found a bit of gas for the final minute, but Tyson continued to press with more shots to the body, again avoiding going for the knockout.

This definitely wasn’t the fight that we would have wanted to see when either of these men were in their prime, but it was a solid display from two fighters well past their hay days.

Asked outright if he would like to do the fight again with the exhibition stipulation, fighting a fully licensed professional boxing match, Tyson declined.

“Naw, this is bigger than fighting. This is humanitarian. This is bigger than that.”

Tyson and Jones both said they would fight each other again, seeming to be happy to show that two 50-plus men could still show their boxing skill and entertain.

Tyson certainly showed himself to be in better condition than Jones, and showed moments of the brilliance from his younger years, but he wasn’t the headhunter of his 20s and 30s. Jones, despite tiring earlier in the fight, showed why he was able to continue boxing well beyond the years that are expected of most athletes, as he fought on fumes in the final minutes of the fight.

But is it enough to continue promoting fights of this ilk? Do fans really want to see the fighters they marveled at in their younger years, age and fight well below their apexes, particularly in exhibition bouts?

YouTube sensation Jake Paul scores second career KO over former NBA star

Youtube sensation Jake Paul promises that he isn’t playing boxing, he is fighting. He’s not in this to be a “celebrity boxer.” The same didn’t appear to hold true for his opponent on the Tyson vs. Jones card. 

Paul dropped former NBA star Nate Robinson with less than a minute left in the opening round. While Paul remained calm, Robinson quickly lost his composure, though he survived the round.

With just under two minutes left in round two, Paul dropped Robinson again. As soon as they started up again, Paul clocked Robinson one more time, this time putting out the lights.

Robinson fell face first to the canvas, laying motionless for several moments before being helped to an upright position.

The fight wasn’t pretty. Neither man looked sharp. But Paul was obviously the better trained boxer in the match-up. He remained calm throughout, picking his shots, while Robinson got his feathers ruffled rather easily, leaving himself open for Paul’s power shots.

The final blow came at 1:35 of round two for the knockout.

Badou Jack rebounds with dominant performance over Blake McKernan

Badou Jack look sharp in his fight with Blake McKernan on Saturday. Jack beat McKernan to the punch throughout the fight, though McKernan had a few moments were he landed some heavy shots that got Jacks’ attention.

The night and the fight, however, belonged to Jack, who rebounded from back-to-back losses with the unanimous decision victory to improve his record to 23-3-3.

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Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. full results

Tyson vs. Jones main card

  • Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. – exhibition bout (celebrity WBC judges scored a draw)
  • Jake Paul def. Nate Robinson by KO at 1:35, R2
  • Badou Jack def. Blake McKernan by unanimous decision (80-72, 80-72, 80-72)

Tyson vs. Jones preliminary card

  • Jamaine Ortiz def. Sulaiman Segawa by TKO at 2:50, R7
  • Irvin Gonzalez def. Edward Vasquez by split decision (77-75, 75-77, 77-75)
  • Juiseppe Cusumano vs. Greg Corbin