After months of talk and training montages, Mike Tyson finally has an opponent for his return to the ring. Tyson will take on fellow boxing legend and former four-division world champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition fight scheduled for Sept. 12.
Tyson had been linked to a potential fight with former rival Evander Holyfield as “Iron Mike” explored the possibility of fighting exhibition bouts for charity. One thing Tyson was clear about was that he only wanted to fight legitimate boxers, not celebrities or athletes crossing over from other sports.
Jones is exactly that. As one of the greatest boxers in history, Jones began his career at 154 pounds and won titles at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight before a historic move to heavyweight where he defeated John Ruiz to become heavyweight champion of the world.
Jones, 51, last fought in February 2018, picking up his fourth straight victory over middling competition. Tyson, 54, last fought in June 2011, retiring after refusing to continue after the sixth round of a fight with Kevin McBride.
The fight will be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission and will air on pay-per-view and social media platform Triller. According to a press release, Triller is also creating a “ten-part docuseries featuring behind-the-scenes, pre-fight footage, releasing two episodes per week leading up to the match.”
According to a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, Jones and Tyson have agreed to fight with large gloves and without the intention of trying to score a knockout. The bout is expected to take place at Dignity Health Sports Arena in Los Angeles with a full undercard as well as musical performances.
The event is attached to a recently announced Tyson venture, “Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League.” A press release Wednesday stated, “Mike Tyson, and Eros Innovations have launched Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League, a next-generation sports venture that provides full support and infrastructure to the world’s greatest athletes, bringing the best of the best back to the ring, onto the court, and back on the field. The league will span live sporting events including tennis, basketball, boxing, and more.”
The involvement of several new companies, an agreement to not try for knockouts and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic gives some pause to the idea the event will cross the finish line, or be a financial success if it does.
Jones was interviewed by Sports.ru ahead of the announcement, saying it would be “crazy” to receive an offer to fight Tyson and refuse.
“I had no intention of going back and fighting again but, for the sake of Mike Tyson, I agree to make an exception,” Jones said. “For me, this is an opportunity that I cannot refuse. Of all those who wanted to go into the ring with him, he chose me. And since he did that, how can I say no?”