It’s official! Retired all-time greats “Iron” Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. will meet in an eight-round exhibition match on Saturday, September 12 live on pay-per-view from a venue to be confirmed soon in the Los Angeles area.
The announcement came as a bit of a shock. The former undisputed Heavyweight champion began posting snippets of his weight loss and videos of himself on the mitts over the last couple of months, which started sparking interest in a comeback.
Tyson last fought professionally over 15 years ago, quitting on his stool against journeyman Kevin McBride. Roy Jones Jr., the consensus pound-for-pound star of the 90s, won world titles at Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight last fought on February 18, 2018 winning in his farewell fight in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida.
Both have led remarkable careers outside the ring, with Jones Jr. serving as a longtime expert commentator and analyst for HBO Boxing alongside Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman, until its conclusion in December of 2018.
He has also taken up training and mentoring fighters, opening a boxing academy in his second home of Russia.
Tyson has since reinvented himself as an actor, cannabis advocate and entrepreneur, having had his own one-man show; Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, numerous acting roles (even getting his own animated series called Mike Tyson Mysteries) and launching his own cannabis licensing and branding company, Tyson Holistic Holdings in 2016.
The brand’s flower, extracts and infused products are distributed to dozens of dispensaries throughout California with plans to open a 407 acre resort and spa in the California desert called, Tyson Ranch.
Jones expressed interest in facing Tyson last month. “I’ve been trying to enjoy retirement, but people don’t seem to want to let me retire,” said Jones in a video posted to Twitter. “They keep calling me, telling me that Mike wants to come back, and that you’d be a great opponent for Mike.”
Tyson confirmed the comeback in typical fashion, claiming he would return to fight with the “spirit of Mao” in May and announced his official return fight with Jones Jr. in a video posted to social media.
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) July 23, 2020
Both fighters boast all-time great career credentials, with Tyson being a two-time Heavyweight champ and being the youngest man to win the WBC Heavyweight title at 20 years old with a two-round demolition of Trevor Berbick.
Tyson became the first fighter to unify all pieces of the Heavyweight crown (WBA, IBF and WBC) to become undisputed champion before losing his titles in an upset knockout loss to underdog Buster Douglas in his 10th title defense.
Following a stint in jail during a tumultuous time of his life following a rape conviction, Tyson would reclaim the WBA and WBC titles with knockouts of Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon, joining the elite club of Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson, Tim Witherspoon, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield as fighters to reclaim the Heavyweight title.
Tyson faced the best of his era in Evander Holyfield (twice) and Lennox Lewis, who he arguably past his prime, losing to both while still remaining a huge draw in the twilight of his career before hanging the gloves up in 2005.
Jones Jr. emerged as a breakout star in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, despite being robbed of a gold medal in a controversial decision loss and tore through the professional ranks following his debut.
Jones Jr. appeared untouchable for the better part of a decade, winning world titles in multiple divisions and facing opposition such as, Bernard Hopkins (whom he defeated for his first world title), Virgil Hill, James “Lights Out” Toney, Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, Vinny Paz, Joe Calzaghe, Montel Griffin and Antonio Tarver.
Jones would solidify his legacy by becoming the only boxer in history to start his professional career at Junior Middleweight and win a Heavyweight title when he moved up to challenge and defeat WBA Heavyweight champion John Ruiz.
Jones Jr. moved back down to Light Heavyweight and suffered an upset knockout loss in the second round to his amateur rival Tarver in their rematch.
Following the Tarver loss, Jones Jr. lost some of his mystique and suffered a fall from grace, being stopped in back-to-back fights, this time in an attempt to reclaim the IBF Light Heavyweight title against Glen Johnson.
Age and the move up and down in weight took their toll on the skill of Jones Jr., whose athletic and unorthodox style was reliant on his cat-like reflexes and blinding speed. The aging Jones Jr. saw his skills diminish with age and fought on well past his prime, losing against less than world class opposition until 2018.
The matchup remains an intriguing and a fun one, even if both legends of the squared circle are not who they were in the prime of their careers. The exhibition bout should make for a high-profile event and entertaining evening of boxing.