By Nunurayi Matimba 

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Fight Weigh In

This past Saturday saw 2 legends of the sport roll back the years as “Iron” Mike Tyson came up against Roy “Captain Hook” Jones Jr. in an exhibition fight that promised to give fans a blast from the past. The matchup managed to live up to most of the hype as Tyson looked explosive as ever while Jones showed that he could still tango in the ring.
Conceived as part of Australian boxing promoter Brian Amatruda’s mission to get Mike “The Baddest Man on the Planet” Tyson back in the ring, the fight was originally supposed to feature Tyson up against one of Barry Hall, Paul Gallen, or Sonny Bill Williams - the former being a retired Aussie rules football player and the latter 2 being retired rugby league players. Tyson, though, being the purist he is, allegedly took offence to the idea of squaring up against a rugby player and instead began to negotiate a bout with former rival and ear-lender Evander Holyfield. However, after several weeks of fruitless negotiations between Holyfield and Tyson’s camps it emerged that Tyson had ultimately signed a contract with Roy Jones Jr. for an eight round contest at the Staples Center in LA.
Tyson Lands A Left Hook on Jones
Jones Jr. arguably came into the bout the favorite as he came up against a Tyson 3 years his senior who hadn’t stepped into the ring in nearly 15 years compared to Jones’s most recent 2018 fight. Jones also entered the matchup with a slightly superior physical advantage, coming in at a height 5ft 11in and a reach of 74 inches compared to Tyson’s reach of 71 inches at a height of 5ft 10in. Obviously, though, size was never much of an issue for Tyson during his heyday and it didn’t hold him back much during this fight.
The first round saw Tyson come out the blocks swinging, almost like he was determined to remind everyone that beneath the renewed, refined Mike Tyson still lay a terrifying monster. From this point I was firmly of the opinion that this fight would be over before the 4th as Jones looked as though he had bitten off much more than he could chew.
Round 2 proved to be a different story, though, as Jones exhibited his quick reflexes and capitalized very often on the counter-punching opportunities that arose due to Tyson’s aggressive offensive approach but Tyson did still manage to get the occasional shot off. By the end of the second round it looked like we might be in for an old-school war between power and patience. 
Round 3 and 4 delved into more slugfest territory as Jones finally found his equilibrium frustrating Tyson by putting his weight onto Tyson while Iron Mike struggled to really land anything substantial across both 2 minute rounds. Still, though, both fighters looked like they were willing to wait it out before truly throwing caution to the wind. 
Jones was probably very relieved to hear the bell at the end of the 5th because he was really starting to look like he was a combination or two away from hitting the canvas.  The fifth round finally saw a breakthrough as Tyson managed to land a number of good shots after figuring out how to counteract Jones’ attempts to close the gap and keep the fight tight. 
The sixth round saw Jones recover well and finally bring the fight to Tyson a bit as he landed quite a few on an opponent that looked like he could sense the kill. Both fighters landed the same number of shots in this round but, still, it looked like Tyson’s punches just hit harder and had a little more venom on them.
The 7th round was mostly fought in the clinch but as soon as the ref separated the two, Jones was Tyson’s for taking as he landed a few choice punches in the penultimate round.
The eighth and final round was probably the most decisive yet as Tyson landed several hard hits to a Jones who looked like he just couldn’t wait for that bell to ring and end the fight.
The judges ultimately scored the fight as a draw despite Tyson clearly winning at least 4 of the rounds by my count but that result probably reflected the grit and effort both veterans brought to the matchup. No one really wants to (officially) lose an exhibition fight but even Roy Jones Jr. looked almost ashamed to have escaped with such a favorable result. The bout managed to remind fans of the old mantra that “form is temporary, class is permanent” as Tyson managed to show off his distinctive skillset in spite of his seniority and time away from the sport. You get the feeling that if it weren’t for the exhibitory nature of the fight and for the inhibitive short rounds, Mike Tyson might have given both fans and himself good rationale to make a legendary comeback.
The fight featured UFC sensation Israel Adesanya and Snoop Dogg on commentary duty as the rapper stole the show and brought a sense of levity to a fight that featured two of boxing’s most tenacious figures. At one point in the fight, Snoop Dogg advised Jones Jr. to cover up his short ribs as Tyson was launching lethal body shot after lethal body shot.
The fight card featured four other bouts including a matchup between 3-time NBA slam dunk contest champion Nate Robinson and Youtuber Jake Paul in a fight that ended in Robinson’s unceremonious knockout in the second round.
Works Cited
Akopyan, Manouk. “Evander Holyfield Wants To Fight Mike Tyson In Exhibition For Charity.” BoxingScene.com, 8 May 2020, www.boxingscene.com/evander-holyfield-wants-fight-mike-tyson-exhibition-charity--148756. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.
Ballentine, Alex. “Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Judges’ Scorecards, Fight Stats and Reaction.” Bleacher Report, 29 Nov. 2020, bleacherreport.com/articles/2920117-mike-tyson-vs-roy-jones-jr-judges-scorecards-fight-stats-and-reaction. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020. 
Greer, Jordan. “Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Fight Results: Boxing Exhibition Ends in Unofficial Draw.” Www.Sportingnews.com, 29 Nov. 2020, www.sportingnews.com/us/boxing/news/mike-tyson-roy-jones-jr-live-updates-results-highlights/1xmaqclljjpoj1czlawyxawabl. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.
Parker, Ryan. “Mike Tyson And Roy Jones Jr. Boxed — But Snoop Dogg’s Commentary Won The Fight | Hollywood Reporter.” Www.Hollywoodreporter.com, 29 Nov. 2020, www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mike-tyson-and-roy-jones-jr-boxed-but-snoop-doggs-commentary-won-the-fight. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.
Rothstein, Michael, and Ben Baby. “Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. Exceeded All Expectations, but Is It Repeatable?” ESPN.com, 29 Nov. 2020, africa.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/30410558/mike-tyson-roy-jones-jr-exceeded-all-expectations-repeatable. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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