After a stressful year that’s oftentimes felt like a nightmare, Saturday night felt like a dream come true.
For months, the scheduled (and delayed) bout between former heavyweight champs Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. promised boxing fans a taste of nostalgia—with a dab of attrition—and while the undercard had its share of surprises, the main event did not disappoint.
In the hours leading up to the fight, I’ll be the first to admit that I began to have some reservations. Much like everyone else, I was well aware that this was an exhibition match between two gladiators who were well-past their primes—they’re a combined 105 years old, after all—but what gave me pause wasn’t the potential for a “brawl” that would be better suited for Bingo Night at a senior center, but the rules each combatant was contractually bound to. Specifically, that there was a no knockout clause (how in the fuck do you put Mike Tyson in the ring and not expect him to lay somebody out?) and that the referee was under strict instructions to pull the plug on the fight if either boxer sustained a cut.
If you punch somebody in the face enough times, one of two things is guaranteed to happen: Either they’re gonna bleed or they’re gonna get slumped. Sooooooo were they not supposed to punch each other? Sure, the requirements of 12-once gloves and two-minute rounds were obviously imposed to mitigate damage, but I watch boxing to see niggas get laid out—and these rules sounded bogus as hell. But once Iron Mike and what’s his face actually got in the ring, it was a much more competitive bout than I anticipated.
Considering Jones has been washed up since Homeboys In Outer Space was still a thing, I was 274 percent positive that his jaw would hold up about as well as Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets did. But lo and behold, Mr. Y’all Must’ve Forgot actually held his own. Traces of his signature flair and showmanship were still on display—that no-look jab will still happily put somebody on their ass—and while he obviously wasn’t as explosive as he was in a past life, he still caught Iron Mike slipping a few times.
Unfortunately for Jones, his body remembered it was 51 years old in the middle of the fight, which left him gasping for air halfway into the 3rd round.
As for Tyson, his combos might’ve been limited to one or two punches, but he still delivered quite a few clean shots that tested Jones’ mettle. He poured the pain on early before eventually running out of gas, which allowed Jones to return fire despite his lack of lateral movement—or endurance.
When the dust settled, the fight was somehow called a draw—only a compulsive liar like Donald Trump would tell you that Jones came even remotely close to winning—and each fighter had different opinions on the decision. While Tyson gave less than a shit about the fight’s outcome (“I’m good with that,” Tyson told Jim Gray after their bout), Jones kept it a buck: “I wear draws, I don’t do draws.”
Well, alrighty then.
Also, much love to Snoop Dogg for stepping in for Lil’ Wayne at the 11th hour and delivering not only a dope performance but the type of boxing commentary typically reserved for the barbershop. Between singing church hymns, comparing Jones and Tyson’s scrap to “two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue” and yelling “OH LAWD!!!” when Jake Paul helped Nate Robinson win his fourth Slam Dunk Contest, Snoop did what Snoop does best: Bring the entertainment value.
All in all, the Tyson-Jones card delivered on its promise to entertain, and I look forward to what Tyson’s Legends Only League and video platform Triller produce together in the future.