“This place is like somebody's memory of a town, and the memory is fading.”
– Rustin Cohle, True Detective
You need to understand that this is really complicated and really simple.
It requires you to ignore the evidence of your own eyes. And that is okay, because we all need to suspend our disbelief sometimes. You cannot be a realist if you do not believe in magic. But if—when—we watch it, we will do it because we want to believe that time does not flow forwards and that the long-gone water can pull itself back out of the sea. We will do it not because we want to believe, but because we do not want to not believe it.
Yes, it is that complicated. It is that simple.
When Tyson and Jones meet, we are not watching because of what is in the ring, but because of all the things we remember about these two, because of how they made us feel all those years ago, and because of how we might feel like that again. If you think that this is a ‘real’ fight, that this is a competition between two athletes that do not like each other, then you are the type of person who is easily parted from their money.
I wrote two stories many years ago for The Sweet Science on why people are drawn to Tyson fights. It is different this time. There is an irony to the promotion, a let’s-get-in-there-and-make-some-money-out-of-our-names that makes sure that the joke is not on them. It is not really on us, either. There is a nudge-and-wink about all this. Hey, you know this isn’t real, right? But we all need to pretend it is. Don’t spoil the joke. That complicated, and that simple.
Ignore anyone that says piously that men aged fifty-one and fifty-four should not be facing each other. There is a gross hypocrisy in those words and thoughts. No men in a just world would ever fight each other for the entertainment of others. Jones had seventy-five professional fights, Tyson had fifty-eight. And they boxed as amateurs and they spent decades sparring week-on-week in gyms against other men who were trained to hurt. The damage has been done. But this fight is the problematic one that should not happen? We were satisfied watching them get damaged, seeing all those miles being put on the clock, and we wince now?
Do not wince, do not look away. What is going to happen is that two old men are going to move slowly around a ring on creaking knees and wincing backs, and are going to spar lightly against each other with a few flashes of brilliance thrown in to tease an audience. But no one is going to get hurt, at least not intentionally.
If you could have gotten a ticket for this, that would have been great because you would be seeing Tyson and Jones live, and it would have been something that you could have told your grandkids. “Hey, did grampa ever tell you about the time he saw Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. fight ON THE SAME NIGHT?” If you watch it on TV just to get a kick out of the memory of the old days, you will get the vicarious thrill of being young again. If you buy it because you think it is a proper fight, then you are just a chump.
This is not Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones. This will be two old men with those names who were once brilliant. And it is okay, because Sinatra in his eighties was a shell of himself but he was still Sinatra. The Rolling Stones are still the Rolling Stones. Every band eventually becomes their own tribute act.
It is that complicated and that simple.