After over 15 years in retirement, a decade and a half defined by emotional interviews, self reflection, substance abuse and legal issues, “Iron” Mike Tyson is set to return to the ring, to fight former 4 Weight World Champion Roy Jones Jr in an 8 round exhibition match.
Jones Jr, much like Tyson, was defined by unbelievable natural talent and potential, where Tysons personal problems (and a prison term) prevented him achieving the greatness so many expected, Roy was victim of his own success. Dominating at Middle & Super Middleweight, beating all time greats like James Toney, Bernard Hopkins and Mike McCallum. His indestructuableness saw him move up and have some success at Light Heavyweight before being brutally knocked out by Antonio Tarver, a likely combination of age and natural size discrepancy, Jones, refused to be cowed and continued to fight.
After 2 more losses at Light Heavyweight (against fighters he had beaten years earlier) Jones decided to move up again, this time nearly 2 stone to Cruiserweight, and was knocked out as expected by Denis Lebedev. Despite sound advice from nearly everyone in the sport, Jones continued, fighting lower tier guys and racking up some underwhelming wins, whilst fans prayed he would retire and keep his legacy intact.
Pundits knew that Jones was inevitably moving towards serious injury and brain damage if he continued fighting and when in 2015 he was violently knocked out by Enzo Maccarinelli, the whole sport was repulsed. Again, Jones continued on with a handful more lower tier fights, before finally retiring in 2017, breathing a sigh of relief into his many worshipping fans.
Now, with both men returning to the ring on September 12th, Tyson for the first time in 15 years and Jones after 75 bouts, I wonder how much the sport and fans care about these fighters. Both men are now in their 50s, 25 years past their bests and have thus far been remarkably blessed with good health despite punishment, yet people bay for blood. They say the last thing to go is power, once a fighter’s reflexes, stamina, movement and toughness have begun to subside, the power remains, so what can we expect? 2 men, both known for ferocious punching power, who’s ability to absorb and defend against shots has massively deteriorated, swinging at each other, and we’re expected to enjoy that? Yes, larger gloves and headgear are expected for the exhibition. But I would rather see 2 of the sports greatest icons sat together fat and happy, reminiscing on the old days.