Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Worth The Watch? Should You Buy?
Mike Tyson sat on the canvas with his right arm draped over the bottom rope at an arena in Louisville with Showtime PPV cameras hovering around him, and it was clear he was finished. Danny Williams, who once challenged for a heavyweight title but was never anywhere near the top of the division, was held back by the referee. A six-punch combination had just connected, and Williams’ final right hand landed hard enough to make Tyson collapse into the ropes.
Tyson probably could have beaten the count and gotten up before the referee counted to 10. But it was clear that Tyson’s career was finished.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
That was the only Tyson fight I ever covered as a journalist. A few days beforehand, a dozen or so media members gathered in Tyson’s hotel suite, and he showed us his new pet pigeons, which were perched on an armoire in one of the bedrooms. Then, Williams knocked the bird crap out of him, and it was clear to me that Tyson’s career—the Tyson phenomenon, the Tyson meteor—had been laid out on the canvas for good.
He was facing me as the referee counted him out that night, and I could see the realization and the sadness on his face. That look told me everything I needed to know. Tyson would fight one more time (and got knocked out again) but the Williams fight had made it all too clear.
The last time I saw Roy Jones Jr. perform against a competitive opponent, I just wanted it to stop. I was watching Enzo Maccarinelli pummel him on a live stream from Russia in 2015, and the once-proud Jones, one of the best fighters in boxing history, was getting pounded.
After the bout was over, with Jones as the fourth-round knockout victim, I wrote this: “Jones needs to retire from boxing. That’s all there is to it. Period, explanation point, end of story, whatever. After getting brutally knocked out by Enzo Maccarinelli in Russia on Saturday—yes, the greatest boxer on the planet in the 1990s (and one of the best of all time) is reduced to fighting off American TV in countries far from home—that much should be clear.”
That domination didn’t stop Jones. He fought four more times, winning all of them against nondescript opponents.
Last week, Tyson and Jones, a 54-year-old who hasn’t won a boxing match in 17 years and a 51-year-old whose best days were two decades ago, set the boxing world aflame when they announced they would face each other on Sept. 12 in an eight-round exhibition that will cost $50 to watch on pay-per-view. I’m sure both men are training hard, and I imagine both men will try to put some exciting punches together.
But are they going to try to knock each out? Are they really going to try to win? I doubt it. Which leads us to this question: Is it worth it to spend so much money to watch Tyson and Jones dance around the ring together?
Is $50 worth a 24-minute shot of nostalgia?
Already, Jones and Tyson are trying to convince you that your patronage is necessary. Jones has talked about how he eats pig ears, obviously alluding to Tyson noshing on Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, and said, “I’m good to go. You’re going to get the best Roy Jones that you’ve ever got. This is still Roy Jones even though I’m fighting Mike Tyson; I’ve got to be ready. When someone gets my blood up like that, it always takes me up to another level. Why? Because I was born and bred to do this.”
Meanwhile, Tyson has talked about how he, even at his advanced age, would beat up MMA star Conor McGregor, Rocky Balboa, and Ivan Drago.
Even Maccarinelli is hyping the event. “I’m telling you now, it won’t be friendly,” Maccarinelli told Sky Sports, via Boxing News. “I see this turning into a bit more than an exhibition. It will be competitive. No way they are training so hard for a friendly fight. They are both big punchers, they can both crack, how do they not go for a KO? You could pull back 50% of your punch—which is not going to happen. When they are in the ring, they will want to prove a point. When they face each other, no one will want to walk out as the loser.”
Yeah, I just don’t believe it.
Tyson will probably come out in a fury for the first couple of rounds, the same way he’s done throughout most of his career. Then, he’ll probably tire out and just try to survive for the next five or six rounds and try not to get embarrassed. Jones will probably try to keep away from danger when Tyson is charging at him early, and then he’ll start popping his jab and landing the occasional combination, all while still keeping out of danger. He doesn’t want to be embarrassed either.
But by the fourth round, I don’t think either man will be trying too hard for a knockout. If you want to buy the PPV, that’s what you should know.
For me, I’ll probably spend the money and watch it, just to see what happens (and because, in their younger days, I would never miss a fight with either man). There’s a bit of a freakshow factor, and I want to drink in that shot of the past and remember the days when both men were great.
I imagine I won’t be alone.
Gervonta Davis officially signs to fight: Baltimore’s Gervonta “Tank” Davis (23-0, 22 knockouts) will face Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) on Oct. 24 on Showtime PPV. It should be a good, but winnable matchup for Davis. At the age of 25, he’s already a two-division titlist, but in December, he struggled to make the 135-pound weight limit for his last fight vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa and didn’t look great against a once-world class fighter who is well past his prime. Now, Davis will face Santa Cruz at the 130-pound junior lightweight limit with Santa Cruz’s 130-pound belt and Davis’s 135-pound belt on the line. One of the most interesting subplots will be whether Davis can still make 130 pounds as he prepares for his debut as a PPV headliner.
“Look, he’s motivated here,” Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza said. “I don’t think there will be any problems making weight on this one.”
As of this writing, Davis is a -350 betting favorite, meaning you’d have to wager $350 to win $100.
Josh Katzowitz is a longtime sports writer who covers boxing for Forbes and who previously reported on the NFL for CBSSports.com. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He’s currently a writer and editor at the Daily Dot. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.