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Fighting Past Their Primes: Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. RECAP

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  • November 29, 2020April 22, 2021

This is a follow-up to my original post, written when the Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr exhibition was announced (with some tips on how to extend your time in boxing!).

The Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. exhibition came and went, and I wouldn’t say there were too many surprises. It was a glorified sparring match, with Mike Tyson showing glimpses of his footwork and body punches and Roy Jones using his speed and elusiveness to try to evade Mike Tyson’s attacks. Here were a few of my observations from the fight:

  • Roy Jones Jr. clinched a lot.
    • Mike wasn’t really able to get on the inside and work because Roy Jones Jr. would clinch. As this was an exhibition, the refs never broke them out of the clinches and Mike Tyson never tried to free up his hands, and would throw the occasional body shot in there.
  • Roy Jones Jr. did a great job of neutralizing Mike Tyson with his movement and clinching, but Mike Tyson’s body punches really wore RJJ out.
  • Mike’s conditioning was great.
    • Say what you will about the fight, but this alone made it worth it. When people asked me about this exhibition (as if it were a real fight happening in their primes), my first response would be, “I’m happy to see Mike Tyson looking healthy and strong.” Mike Tyson hardly looked out of breathe (especially compared to Roy Jones) and moved really nicely in there, given his time off. Knowing that Mike Tyson had to lose 100+ lbs to get to where he was, made me really appreciate the accomplishment of getting himself fight ready and competing.
  • If the opportunity comes I’m always looking for it. The fighting game is what I’m about and hurting people is what I’m about.” – Mike Tyson in the lead-up to the fight
    • There were rumors of there being a “no knockout rule.” They said there couldn’t be judges, yet I was seeing betting odds still being placed on the screen, and I’m sure several viewers placed bets amongst themselves. Some people questioned the intensity of the exhibition. Would this play out like a real fight or a sparring session? To some extent, Mike did press the action and made it entertaining. But it did have feel of sparring, with Tyson pulling back some punches and centering his attack on the body.

Final Thoughts: We all become victims to our expectations.

When this fight was announced, I got some texts from some friends who aren’t big boxing fans who were really excited about the fight. And when I’d walk in the gym, sometimes people would bring it up and ask my opinion. I tend to try to discredit these types of spectacles that don’t deserve attention (i.e. Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor) out of some sort of frustration that the “real” fights don’t generate the same kind of hype. Back when Floyd Mayweather fought Conor McGregor, I was frustrated fights like Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux  couldn’t gain any traction compared to the “mega-fight” of Floyd Mayweather vs a professional debut. Similarly, I tend to dismiss fights like Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr and try to point the newcomers to fights that showcase younger talent, such as Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz or Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Teofimo Lopez.

Over time, the fight hype became real and eventually you have to give in and think about the Tyson-Jones fight. But these expectations are what can make the event so unenjoyable. After the fight, you see a flood of commentators (not even boxing commentators) on Twitter saying Mike Tyson got robbed and people breaking down the match as if it were a championship fight. It was an exhibition with no official winner, but that didn’t stop people from making bets on the fight.

Keeping in perspective that this is an exhibition of a 54-year old Mike Tyson who hasn’t stepped in a ring in 15 years and had to lose 100+ lbs to get to where he is now – I was very entertained and was truly happy to see Mike doing what he loves to do. If you had the expectation of a prime-Tyson and Roy Jones Jr putting together a FOTY, shame on you.

The Undercard: Jake Paul KO Nate Robinson

Jake Paul Defeats Nate Robinson Via Second-Round Knockout (FULL FIGHT)

I’m sure you’ve all seen Jake Paul’s knockout of Nate Robinson by now. You don’t play boxing!

Jake Paul, for his actual boxing experience, isn’t a bad fighter. If he wasn’t a celebrity, and walked into our gym with 2 years experience and 3 amateur fights and said, “I want to train for the Golden Gloves”, I’d say “let’s get to work!” And I think he’d totally be game to compete in the novice division (under 10 fights) of the Golden Gloves. For his actual experience, he’s not bad.

Boxing purists don’t like the way a Youtuber can shortcut the process of going through hundreds of amateur fights and building their way up the professional ranks to fight in big events. Instead, he can create megafights against other Youtubers or, this time, an NBA player with no boxing experience, and be featured as a semi-main event above more highly regarded prospects. I definitely get it, but that’s the business side – putting on the person who brings in the most revenue near the end, whether you like it or not.

And for as little experience as Jake Paul has (~2 years), Nate Robinson had even less. Seeing a former pro NBA player decide to turn into a professional boxer in only a few months is one of the worst things to come out of these celebrity boxing matches.

You can play football. You can play basketball. You don’t play boxing.

About the Author:

Coach Ian is an ultra-marathon runner and a volunteer coach at the non-profit boxing organization, Dreamland Boxing, in San Jose, CA. He competed in boxing for both Dreamland and collegiately at UCLA. His goal is to empower all to be the best that they can be, in boxing and in life. You can find Coach Ian on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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