Mike Tyson fights Roy Jones in a little while, and right now, people from coast to coast have pressed “Buy.”
But some are on the fence—to buy or not to buy?
Here's a guarantee for you– more people will tune in to see the 54 year old man very formerly known as ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet” and the 51 year old man who long ago was the pound for pound best pugilist on any planet than watched two of the top three marquee heavyweight standouts of this day. Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder collided Feb. 22, on pay per view, before COVID did a Godzilla stomp on America, and this tussle was, to put it succintly, well hyped.
ESPN, which does business with Fury's US promoter Top Rank, gave that Fury title defense time on SportsCenter, and FOX used their leverage to best of their ability, telling viewers watching Fox football fare that the behemoths would collide. And yet, some 850,000 buys were collected on cable and satellite pay per view, while maybe 300,000 buys were activated on direct to consumer outlets. Sounds like a lot, right? But when the fighters' asks are gargantuan, the number of buys has to be more gargantuan, for the whole extravanganza to be seen as a run-away success.
We won't know until next week, Wednesday or so, how many buys the Tyson v Jones offering does, but anecdotally, I'm thinking it does more than a bit better than Fury-Wilder 2.
On surface, that might not make sense, but scratch just a shade below, and it does. Mike Tyson is STILL the best known boxer on the planet, 15 years after he last laced up the gloves for a “real” fight. And Roy Jones is someone who even plenty of non boxing fans were aware of, when he had his heyday, which ran from 1999-2003. These are two NAMES, and it is more and more rare for pugilists to achieve “name” status, as boxing fights off its slide into lower and lower levels of relevance.
The reasons for the sliding, yeah, that's another subject for another very lengthy story, but we can furnish a quick gloss summation. When no dominating athlete leads the pack, one with an aggressive style and a magnetic personality, the sport dips. And, frankly, we see evidence of most all sports slipping, because of the super over-abundance of entertainment options available. Netflix is a REALLY well oiled machine, and boxing….well, it isn't. The sport shoots itself in both feet, regularly, refuses to learn lessons and stop repeating its mistakes and suffers heavily because not only the does the left hand often not know what the right hand is doing, sometimes it does and the hands are battling each other. We can go on….
But we won't, because that's another column. Back to this Tyson fight. My nephew, Cliff, he's 12, is making his mom order the fight.
Old college chums have been reaching out to me, as they do once every three to five years, when a fight exits the realm of ‘for hardcores only' and gets talked about by regular folks who may very not know that Mike Tyson is NOT the current heavyweight champion of the world.
What about this fight, Woods? Could Tyson make a comeback, and win the championship again?
And people that NEVER TALK ABOUT BOXING have sidled up to me, over the past few months, and asked me if it's true, if I think Tyson could make a comeback and win the championship again?
No, I tell them, he could not. Editing, it's a magical fucking thing, I tell them, trying not to sound like a patronizing dick. That clip you saw, you know how long Tyson was hitting those pads for? You know pads don't hit back? (I said I TRIED not to sound like a dick.)
Maybe they listen, it looks like they are paying attention. But marketing skills usually win out over common sense, because when “they” want to sell you something, they usually do a better job at that than you do at keeping your common sense defenses up.
What MIGHT happen is the more so the allure here, more than with most pay per view events. Tyson MIGHT turn back that clock, he might, as he's told us, be able to do the impossible. That is, he might be better now, at 54, than he was at age 39, when he hung up the mitts, because he was over it. Because he is wiser, he has told us in documercial videos, he could actually be better now, in some ways.
I don't want to tell you that isn't possible, because, like Chappelle says, you don't want to be positioning yourself to take food from the mouth of a man. I ain't busting up this 3 Card Monte match…But neither will I be part of the promotion.
Chances are, you may end up buying the Tyson-Jones event, and having it play out, and feeling let down. Because it is a strong possibility that your expectations, even the ones that are tempered with that strong dose of common sense, will not be met.
But I, like you, are curious enough to pay to see.
What about others in the boxing orbit. I asked some of boxings' bold faced names if they will watch Mike Tyson v Roy Jones fight an exhibition in LA on Nov. 28.
Las Vegas resident Bob Arum, born in Brooklyn, will he be wanting to see what the graybeards can do? “No,” Arum said. “Only idiots would spend $50 bucks.”
And Teddy Atlas, the podcaster, ex trainer and current ESPN/SportsCenter analyst, who helped Cus D'Amato and Kevin Rooney train Tyson back in the day, will he watch?
“Have to because of my podcast and in case SportsCenter wants my viewpoint,” Atlas said. “Just glad the weed smoking part is over!”
Will ex heavyweight titlist Michael Bentt, the New York native, watch Tyson-Jones?
“As for as watching Mike vs Roy….I probably won't watch it,” Bentt said. “I don't particularly care to observe an affair featuring two of the sports' all time greats go head to head way behind they're prime. It's not that I don't, from a business standpoint get it, I do. But that encounter/”exhibition” shouldn't be allowed to take place, particularly with RJJ's propensity for suffering really scary KOs in the latter phase of his career. In his prime, Roy was unstoppable as was Mike. And though Roy was much more nuanced as a boxer than Mike, Mike's punching power and completely unapologetic objective to render his opponent unconscious speaks volumes. I don't see it going well for RJJ.”
NY industry leader Lou DiBella, what about you? “Maybe… haven’t decided,” the ex HBO executive said. “If I do, it will be pure curiosity about the whole event.”
And, is this just an “it is what it is” situation… or are there actual ramifications or possible ripple effects to this promotion, as far as what it means to boxing as a whole? “Nah…means nothing,” he answered. “It is what it is. To each his/her own.”
Promoter Kathy Duva, a NJ resident, weighed in.
Will Duva, the Main Events captain, watch? “Haven’t decided yet. Maybe if my daughters come over and watch with me. I won’t watch it if I’m by myself.”
Is this just an “it is what it is” situation… or are there actual ramifications or possible ripple effects to this promotion, as far as what it means to boxing as a whole, I asked Duva, a quite astute analyst of the sport of boxing, from a bigger picture context.
“I doubt it,” Duva said. “I would only watch if my family wants to see it because we are so bored! I doubt there will be any ramifications beyond the event itself. We’ll see.”
She circled back 15 minutes later. “Just checked with the kids. No interest at all. So we’ll pass.”
Will Hall of Famer heavyweight Larry Holmes watch Tyson-Jones? “Don't know yet,” Larry said Saturday morning.
What about Jim Lampley, the HBO fixture who told me he has been watching all the major league boxing events of late. Will he tune in?
“No,” Lampley said. “Love them both though. Hope they make a lot of money!”
Teofimo Lopez, the 135 pound superstar from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, seems to be considering it. “Is it on PPV,” Lopez asked me.
Triller, I replied.
“I might watch it,” Teofimo said. “Just because I don’t have anything else to do.
Ex NY Post Mike Marley, will you watch this exhibition? “Yes. Because Tyson is Big Drama Show.”
Larry Merchant, the scribe turned TV analyst, will he want to know what Tyson and Jones can do? “Exhibition! Nope,” Merchant told me.
Wait, ZERO percent chance?
“Unless they pay me,” he said, nope. He's ok with this being an exercise in revenue generation. “I just don’t need to be a part of it.”
Master manager James Prince, will be pressing “Purchase?”
“Got to,” J Prince said.
And why? Curiosity?
“Support,” he told me.
Will you watch, aothor/analyst Mark Kriegel? “When is it on again,” Kriegel asked. I answered.
“Think I’ll be catching up on Downton Abbey,” the ESPNer said.
Will you watch the Tyson PPV tomorrow, Wallace Matthews?
“How much is it,” the tabloid pitbull asked me. Fiddy, I said.
“I will because I’ll write about it for someone,” Matthews said. “And write it off. Otherwise probably not. As far as I can tell, it’s a glorified sparring session
Lou Savarese took on Tyson, in 2002. Will he watch Mike's “comeback?”
“I will,” The Texas based ex pugilist stated. And, may I ask, why? Curiosity? “Roy and I were roommates at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado and I know Tyson too obviously.”
My Three Cents: One or two of those folks who told me they won't, will. Because curiosity is a bitch. Marketing is powerful. And…it's Tyson.
There is zero chance that he will be better than he was in 2005….and there chances are good that after four minutes both men look like they sipped Thorazine smoothie topped with Xanax shavings after round two.
But there is a small but above 15% chance Mike rips a left hook, and connects on Roys chin, and drops and stops him, no matter what they are saying the rules will allow. And Tyson will be trending on Twitter and if you missed it, you will be playing match up. And, like I said, curiosity is a bitch.
And I leave you with some Latin, cap'n: Caveat emptor. But I'm going to change it to “Buyer be aware.”
Because this is about marketing, my friends. After I input my info to watch Triller content, my phone started blowing up: