As long as your expectations were at a reasonable level, that wasn’t all that bad.
For a 54 and a 51 year old man, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones didn’t do all that badly Saturday night at the Staples Center, in front of no fans, because of the COVID threat, in a pay per view main event which will be remembered by those who chose to watch for being, well, different.
Snoop Dogg doing commentary, making pimp jokes, yeah, this one was a different animal, and probably left plenty of folks puzzled, and some bummed out. But those would mostly be folks who didn’t understand the limitations put upon a 54 and a 51 year old man. And also folks who reflexively shit on boxing, or the coverage of boxing, always finding the dark cloud to stare at.
Tyson whetted appetites as he growled and promised to destruct and destroy at various points during the build-up to this exhibition match, which was preceded by YouTuber Jake Paul laying a severe smack down on ex NBAer Nate Robinson.
He insinuated that he’d be a version of the Iron Mike that we knew and loved, or loathed/loved, or discovered watching his greatest KO hit parade on YouTube. But it had been 15 years since he laced up the gloves, and most anyone with a decent level of comprehension of the sport understood that no matter what video snippets told you, that Tyson was gone.
So what Tyson showed up on Saturday?
For one, an in shape Tyson came to the arena. He got through the 8 two minute rounds, and did so by being smart about parceling out his energy.
He was helped in that area, arguably, by Jones, who definitely had a game plan he crafted with trainers Tom Yankello and Russ Anber. As much as 1/3 of most rounds consisted of Jones getting close to Mike, and then hugging him, in order to stifle the Brooklyn natives’ offensive flow. Yes, it made the fight not as much fun to watch, and people who wanted their pounds of flesh were probably bummed that the thing ended with Roy still on his feet.
That’s not to say some fairly heavy leather wasn’t traded. It was, to the point that I saw some folks opining on social media that Tyson needs to take a “real” fight next, that he should keep at this, and look to regain past glory.
That would not be a good idea.
Jones came in to the ring pretty heavy, but in good enough shape to not gas out, and make it through 16 minutes. And he could still slip punches well enough to keep Mike from getting a clean look at his whiskers. That’s why Tyson had maybe his best luck with body shots.
After the scrap, which was deemed a draw by judges Vinny Paz, Christy Martin and Chad Dawson, ex fighters all, Jones said you bet, Tyson still has pop. His body was feeling it in there. But, he said, we can do it again. Tyson post-fight, to interrogator Jim Gray, said he was happy with his showing, and was glad it seemed like fans dug it. He wants to keep doing exhibitions, he told Gray, and he wasn’t bummed he couldn’t score a KO. He cracked that he felt like a newbie in there, because it had been 15 years since he last gloved up in such a situation.
All in all, I’ve spent three hours in a lump sum and came away much more displeased than after watching this Triller production, on Fite TV. And yep, I’ve had more regrets about spending $50 on this or that. The production looked good, moved smartly, and having the oddball commentary team, of Mauro Ranallo (subbing for Al Bernstein, who has COVID but is feeling good), UFCer Israel Asenanya and Mario Lopez paid off, because the formula got switched up. Sure, there was still shilling and some inexpertise got displayed, but the irreverence from Israel and Snoop was welcomed.
Las Vegas resident Badou Jack said coming in that his foe Blake McKernan, age 33, was but a club fighter. And that wasn’t disproven after they battled, but it can be stated he’s a TOUGH club fighter.
Jack, and ex champ at 168 and 175, was at cruiserweight Saturday, and he put a pasting on Sacramento’s McKernan.
Jack, age 37, rose to 23-3-1 and the loser went to 13-1. Jack had lost to Marcus Browne and then Jean Pascal, so it had to feel good to stop the slide. He will probably fight Pascal again, in the first quarter of 2021.
Jamaine Ortiz (14-0, 8 KOs), the reigning WBC Youth World Lightweight Champion, got a seventh-round knockout win over the Sulaiman Segawa (13-3-1), stopping his opponent with a well-placed liver shot to capture the WBC USNBC Silver Title.
Ortiz was one of three fighters on the Classic Entertainment and Sports roster who had a slot on this card.
CES is run by Rhode Island boxing lifer, the perpetually energized promoting pride of New England, Jimmy Burchfield Sr, who must be enjoying one of the headiest professional triumphs of his three decades in the savage and sweet science. CES’ Irvin Gonzalez Jr. (14-3), of Worcester, MA–yes, this time the ring emcee didn’t pronounce it War-Chester— got an SD8 win over Texan Edward Vazquez (9-0), for the vacant WBC USNBC Featherweight Title. This fight kicked off the free portion of the pay-per-view stream.
CES heavyweight Juiseppe Cusumano (19-3, 17 KOs) stopped Greg Corbin (15-4) of Dallas in the sixth round of their scheduled eight-round bout, for the vacant WBC USNBC title.
MY THREE CENTS: I’m here to say I don’t know anything or much about some of the musical talent that showed up Saturday, like SAINt JHN. But Nakisa Bidarian, executive producer of Triller Presents Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr., put together a program that moved along well. French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, YG, and Ne-Yo also played, while Lil Wayne was a scratch.
Jones spoke at the post-fight presser. He reiterated that Tyson has heavy hands, and he got fatigued defending himself. “That was strategy going in, clinch on the inside, box on the outside,” he said, admitting also that he has a sore jaw from eating a Tyson shot. It was an uppercut, he thinks, that left the tingle.
He also said Tyson “is capable of fighting anybody,” because he proved he can get himself into great shape. But, he said, he doesn’t want anyone to take “stupid fights,” meaning biting off more than can be chewed.
At the post-fight presser (pic below from that session), Tyson told a small collection of media that he was happy he didn’t get kayoed. He thinks he can look better the next time.
He said his trainers and sparring partners put him through their paces, and that’s why he was able to look decent. “I’ll never call a fighter a bum again, because I took my youth for granted,” he stated.
Tyson said he didn’t care about the scores, he was just happy to be there, and going eight rounds, and proving he can show endurance, he’s proud of himself.
He admitted, in so many words, that he wasn’t looking to load up, wasn’t seeking a KO, he wanted to go rounds, and also he knew the rules of this event, that the commission wanted it to be a hard but not brutal spar.
And what he is capable of doing next? “In a perfect world, I’m a missionary, in a perfect world,” he said. He isn’t into the chicks and cars and all that. He digs his pigeons, his weed…and oh yes, his wife and kids.
He said for next, maybe he’ll fight in the South of France, Monaco, perhaps, and will maybe meet a Euro fighter.
Watch more of his fascinating after-fight talk here.