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The year 2020 continues to surprise. On Thursday, it was announced that Mike Tyson, 54, will face 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition in California on Sept. 12. Tyson hasn’t stepped foot in the ring since 2005. Jones Jr. last fought professionally in 2018.

“It’s because I can do it. And I believe other people believe they can do it too,” Tyson said. “Just because we are 54, it doesn’t mean that we have to start a new career and our lives are totally over. Not when you feel as beautiful as I do, and I’m sure that other people feel the same way.”

There’s much to question about this bout, starting with safety for the fighters. There will be no headgear and there likely will be bigger-than-normal gloves worn.

Steve Kim, Nick Parkinson, Cameron Wolfe and Ben Baby discuss the bout, what it means for the legacies of both fighters and who else they’d like to see return to the ring.


What is your initial reaction?

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Mike Tyson proves once again that he’s ready to step back in the ring with this intense workout.

Kim: That P.T. Barnum was correct — there’s a sucker born every minute. To be clear, these are grown men and if they want to do this, by all means, let them. Also, let the free market dictate how well this event does financially. But honestly, I think it’s dangerous for both participants and a bit farcical. Nobody can stop them from doing this, but at a certain point this almost seems exploitative. My hope is that they both make a few bucks and that nobody gets seriously injured in the ring.

Parkinson: There was still a certain amount of surprise despite Tyson’s ring return being widely speculated over the past few months. I thought and hoped it was a stunt, just idle talk spun out on social media. These two were the biggest names in boxing during their careers, but their paths never crossed as Jones mostly operated below heavyweight. It was a fantasy fight that never happened, so how could we get it now when they are retired?

To get them boxing each other in their 50s leaves me gobsmacked, warm with nostalgia as we remember their great moments, but also cold with regret that their comeback fight is a grubby, cash-grabbing circus act between two champions decades past their primes.

Baby: I rolled my eyes and swiped the notifications off my phone when I saw the news about this exhibition. There’s really no need for this to occur aside from a quick cash grab for both men. I get why it’s happening — they were two of the most exciting fighters of the past 30 years and obviously are still interesting to the general public. But I really don’t know how entertaining any of this will actually be.

Wolfe: It’s sad. I hope it doesn’t happen. It’ll make money and people will watch, but at what cost? Seeing legends in their 50s fight each other isn’t good for anybody but those making money off them. I remember cringing while watching Kevin McBride retire the shell of Mike Tyson — and that was 15 years ago! I know it’s supposed to be an exhibition with larger gloves, but this just seems like a recipe for someone to get hurt.

Is this fight good or bad for the sport?

Kim: Honestly, it’s not a good look. They are in their 50s, and they haven’t been world-class fighters for a long time. But boxing is like a narcotic for many of these guys; they are addicted to it, regardless of the impact to their overall health. They simply can’t stay away, for one reason or another. For Tyson, it seems that it’s part of his spiritual renaissance of 2020, but for Jones it could be strictly a financial move.

It’s ironic. On a day ESPN runs a story on the top 25 fighters below the age of 25, it’s this story that will get the most traction. It’s a testament to the impact that both Tyson and Jones left on the sport. It’s also an indictment on the current state of affairs in the boxing business.

Parkinson: Both. For some, two fighting 50-somethings is a grotesque spectacle, and Tyson and Jones are tarnishing their reputations and fans’ memories of them in their primes. But, remember, both their careers ended on a downward slope and/or humiliating defeats anyway. How can this be worse than what they have already experienced? Because the physical damage could be far more damaging than any harm to their reputations.

Tyson is not the baddest man on the planet anymore, when his opponents were paralyzed by fear just by the sight of him walking to the ring in the 1980s. Jones is not the wizard he was in the 1990s, when his magic mesmerized opponents with incredible speed, breathtaking skills, feints and combinations. It will still, however, draw viewers and interest, many of them who weren’t even alive when Tyson and Jones were at their peaks. It also generates income for boxers on the undercard, and if Tyson-Jones creates a new boxing fan, it will have had some positive effect.

Baby: It’s atrocious for the sport and should be another major wake-up call for boxing’s top stars and matchmakers. It seems like since Floyd Mayweather fought Conor McGregor in 2018, some of the biggest boxing events have been gimmicks. YouTube personality Jake Paul, who is fighting former NBA player Nate Robinson on the Tyson-Jones undercard, was the headliner for a DAZN card during Super Bowl week in January. Frankly, it’s alarming boxing doesn’t seem to create much mainstream appeal without these events. It’s a shame the sport’s top promoters and fighters can’t create similar buzz despite the abundance of young, promising names in the sport.

Wolfe: It’s very bad. If it happens, it draws boxing back into an obsession over its past rather than drawing fans into a new era. The PPV fight will do numbers because of name value. Nostalgia sells, but it likely won’t be good boxing. Bad boxing is always bad for boxing.


How do you see this fight playing out?

Kim: Best-case scenario is that this is a glorified pillow fight and that people who pay for this card would ask for their money back. This way, you know that both guys — especially Jones, who has been brutally knocked out more than once and is the much smaller man in there — come out safe. But as one trainer told me, the problem is that Tyson has heavy hands, and his style is rough and physical, regardless if it’s just sparring.

Here’s hoping that personal or professional pride and ego don’t get involved, and that both men have some fun in there and nobody gets hurt. Even if this exhibition is fought with larger gloves, there is still the jarring of the brain and a physical toll that is extracted each time you take punches. And keep this in mind, these are middle-aged men.

Parkinson: Jones is the younger by three years and had his last professional fight two years ago, compared to Tyson’s sad end against Kevin McBride 15 years ago. With Jones being more recently acquainted with the professional ring, and assuming he can produce some of the movement and ring craftsmanship of old, Jones “wins” the exhibition by decision or late stoppage.

Baby: A few interesting moments could happen here and there. But do either of these guys have the strength to truly hurt each other? That seems unlikely. And no matter what clips float around social media, I have a hard time believing either one of these guys can sustain the effort required to go a full eight rounds. But Roy Jones’ gift was his speed. Tyson had power. One of those things ages better than the other. So I’ll reluctantly take Tyson.

Wolfe: Both guys tire out by Round 3 or 4, leading to a lackluster second half of the bout with Jones winning by unanimous decision. He’s the boxer most recently removed from real boxing action.


How would they have matched up during their primes?

Kim: They wouldn’t have. No natural middleweight would have ever dared tangle with the Tyson from 1986 to 1990. There is a reason why you have weight classes in this sport. And no disrespect to John Ruiz, whom Jones beat in a heavyweight fight to win a title, but to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, “He’s no Mike Tyson.”

Parkinson: It would have been an unfair matchup. Tyson, at his best before suffering a knockout defeat to Buster Douglas in 1990, would have taken out Jones in his prime in the 1990s simply because he was around 60 pounds heavier and was one of the most vicious boxers in history. Jones was more skillful during his reigns as super middleweight and light heavyweight champion, but he would have been overwhelmed by Tyson’s unrelenting aggression and power.

Baby: Tyson would have been too much for Jones, who did most of his damage beneath the heavyweight division.

Wolfe: A prime Jones would have some success boxing Tyson with his hand speed and ability to move around the ring. He might even win more rounds on the scorecard, but Tyson’s power would eventually catch him dropping him multiple times. Tyson by late-round KO.


What other opponent would you like to see Tyson face?

Kim: None. It’s that simple.

Parkinson: I would rather Tyson’s return is for one night only, but if he wins, the talk will inevitably turn to Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.

Baby: Nobody.

Wolfe: I don’t want to see Tyson face anyone! He has been retired for 15 years. It should stay that way. For a fighter who has suffered so much punishment in the ring, returning 15 years later, in his mid-50s, is the last thing he should do.


What current star would you love to see getting the spotlight on this undercard?

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Ryan Garcia shows off incredible punching speed as he works through drills at his house.

Kim: Jaron “Boots” Ennis isn’t necessarily a star yet, but he makes sense for a couple of reasons. He’s a talented young fighter who is still building his brand and needs more eyeballs on him. Also, he has a fan-friendly style that will entertain those in attendance, which is key. For a guy like him, there really is no downside to being involved in an event like this at this stage of his career.

Parkinson: Ryan Garcia. The 21-year-old unbeaten lightweight is a social media phenomenon, and the Los Angeles native would do well in California, where Tyson-Jones will be staged. This story started with social media videos of Tyson training during the coronavirus lockdown, and there is a parallel with how Garcia has built up a following through video uploads of his own training, including hand-speed exploits. Garcia’s speed would be quite a contrast to the main event.

Baby: Since this whole premise is ridiculous, I want Shawn Porter fighting Terence Crawford. Because you know what we actually need on the undercard? A couple of legitimate guys at their primes who are willing to make an engaging fight. I don’t need to see a prospect stopping some journeyman to bolster a claim of how good he is. What boxing needs more than anything are top fighters agreeing to face each other to create some legitimate drama.

Wolfe: I’d love to see some real young boxing talent in need of eyeballs rather than just big-name gimmicks. I’d be interested in seeing an ascending young titlist on the card like Shakur Stevenson or Devin Haney, or an exciting prospect like Edgar Berlanga or Daniel Dubois.

Are you going to watch?

Kim: No, I’m not particularly fond of these sort of events. Hopefully another card will be on, or college football.

Parkinson: Yes, out of curiosity. A lot of fight fans will be tuning in, or at least check out the highlights, even if they think it’s a farce. When two legends collide, you want to know the outcome, even if it’s not right and they are way past their best-before date.

Baby: If I don’t have any other plans that evening, I might flip it on.

Wolfe: I don’t want it to seem like I’m on this moral soapbox, because these are grown men making their own decisions, but I’m not interested. I’d rather remember Tyson and Jones for their boxing brilliance in their primes. I understand why a lot of people will watch the fight, but unless I need to view it for work purposes, I won’t be one of them.





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Charlo Brothers fight card: Five storylines to watch on massive Showtime Boxing PPV doubleheader

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With the Charlo twins set to headline separate main events within the same unique pay-per-view doubleheader on Saturday from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, there are no shortage of storylines surrounding the 30-year-old rising stars. 

Both Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs), the WBC middleweight champion, and brother Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs), who holds the WBC 154-pound title, enter what can be legitimately called the toughest challenges of their respective careers on Saturday.  The six-fight event (Showtime PPV, 7 p.m. ET) also features a four-pack of exciting matchups in the bantamweight and junior featherweight divisions. 

Let’s take a closer look at what to watch for entering the Showtime Boxing PPV extravaganza featuring the Charlos this weekend.

1. PBC betting time is now on all things #LionsOnly

With an equal balance of speed and power to form a combined pro record of 63-1 with 39 KOs, the 30-year-old Charlo twins have both seemed one breakthrough victory away from cracking the sport’s top 10 pound-for-pound list in recent years. Marketing wise, however, there has always been talk about the potential of their #LionsOnly brand becoming more, maybe to the level of being a household name across the sport (and beyond). Following a flurry of headlining roles over the past year on pay cable and in primetime on national television, PBC boss Al Haymon believes the Charlos’ time is now to take that swing in this somewhat historic double PPV main event across two cards. There has never been a doubt that the fighting brothers, who are just as competitive seemingly with one another other even more so than their opponents, have the right kind of brash attitude to sell themselves and a firm understanding of how to grab an audience’s attention. But for this PPV kickoff to truly have lasting power, both will need to win in very difficult matchups, respectively. 

2. Jermall’s island finds shipwrecked passenger

Among the most talented and well-rounded talents in the 160-pound division, Charlo simply hasn’t had the opportunity to prove his skills translate the same against the elite members of the division. His prior junior middleweight title run brought him impressive wins over names like Cornelius Bundrage, Austin Trout and Julian Williams. His five fights at middleweight have largely seen him on the wrong side of boxing’s political line, however, despite a respected decision win over former champion Matvey Korobov. With his goal remaining the same of an eventual showdown with Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez, Charlo finally gets the chance to prove his worth against as tough an out as the division can find in Derevyanchenko. For every bold word Charlo has ever proclaimed in the face of critics, this fight represents his ultimate shot at having the last word in regards to where he stands. 

3. Derevyanchenko hoping third time is the charm

A native of Ukraine with an extensive amateur background (who called the likes of future world champions Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Oleksandr Gvozdyk as teammates), it didn’t take but 12 pro fights for Derevyanchenko to earn his first pro title shot. Despite two outstanding performances in title shots against Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin over the past two years, Derevyanchenko has nothing to show for it. While he deserved a mild level of contention for his split-decision loss to Jacobs, it was his absolute war with GGG — who received the nod from all three judges — that Derevyanchenko seemed to find the majority believing he deserved better. Not only did “The Technician” rise from the canvas against both to showcase his toughness, he stood up to the powerful Golovkin and became the aggressor as the fight wore on. At 34, there’s never a guarantee how many future title shots will be available to any fighter, let alone one who faces the reality of a third defeat being his last. It’s now or never for such a great fighter to realize his full potential. 

4. Control of loaded 154-pound division at stake

For all of the justified complaining by boxing fans of the sport’s constant disorganization and political trickery, the junior middleweight division is an almost throwback example of how the sport used to be. Nearly everyone at 154 pounds who matters fights under the PBC banner, and just about all of them are willing to try and prove they are the division’s best the old-fashioned way: doing so inside the ring. Charlo faces off with the upset-minded Jeison Rosario, owner of the WBA and IBF titles after shocking Julian Williams via TKO last year, to allow the winner a firm grasp on the division at large by owning three of four recognized belts (Patrick Teixeira holds the WBO strap). Considering how insanely competitive the biggest 154-pound fights have been over the last two years (including the likes of Jarrett Hurd, Erislandy Lara and Tony Harrison, to name a few), it will be nice — for as long as it lasts — to see a temporary king crowned. 

5. Loaded undercard puts spotlight on two divisions

The double Charlo PPV might be new school in its execution, but it carries with the classic charm of what used to be a standard throughout the sport: an undercard worth making an appointment to tune in early. In whatever the four support bouts under the two Charlo title clashes lack in mainstream appeal, they more than make up for that in terms of street cred from the hardcore fans. Competitively matched with each promising a certain level of two-way violence, the four world-class fights also offer the competitors a chance to steal the show at large. Will it be Mexican slugger Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) in his vacant super bantamweight title bout against fellow unbeaten Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs)? Or how about WBA 122-pound titleholder Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 15 KOs)? Others are pointing to WBO bantamweight champion Jon Riel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) to carry on the Filipino fighting tradition of Manny Pacquiao. Either way, there are no shortage of explosive candidates. 



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No fans for Blast knock-outs as ECB warn of ‘severe’ consequences of further lockdown measures

The ECB has reiterated that the impact on cricket would be “severe” if fans were unable to return to grounds for the 2021 season, after the UK government confirmed that plans to reintroduce spectators to sporting events were being paused.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that a spike in Covid-19 cases in the UK had required a postponement of the proposed date of October 1 for a trial reintroduction of fans in stadiums.

The final rounds of the rescheduled T20 Blast had been set for October 1 (quarter-finals) and 3 (Finals Day), in an attempt to enable some spectators to return to watch the action. However, those plans are now on hold, following the rise of the UK’s Covid-19 alert level to 4, meaning that transmission is “high or rising exponentially”.

“We have to acknowledge the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen large sporting events,” said the prime minister. “We will not be able to do this from October 1 and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities.”

Earlier this week, 100 leaders of sports and fitness bodies, including the England & Wales Cricket Board and the cricket charity, Chance to Shine, wrote to the UK government to warn of a “lost generation of activity” if sporting clubs were to face financial hardship as a consequence of Covid-related measures.

According to a report in the Guardian, the government is braced to bail out eight sports facing a financial black hole as a consequence of lockdown measures.

ECB officials were among those to sit in on a phone call with the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, in the wake of the prime minister’s announcement, alongside representatives of the Rugby Football Union, the Football Association, the British Horseracing Authority and the governing body for Formula One.

ALSO READ: ‘We can’t let this crisis narrow our ambition’ – Clare Connor

“Like other sports, the financial impact of Covid-19 on cricket has been severe,” read an ECB statement, “and we welcome today’s constructive call with the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport where we discussed potential ways to overcome the significant challenges facing sports across the UK.

“Through this crisis we have worked closely with the government to enable cricket to be played through the summer, and we will continue to work with the Government and other sporting bodies to see the safe return of crowds to stadia as soon as possible.

“The impact of having to stage cricket behind closed doors again next year would be severe. Many clubs will also face a significant financial impact if they are unable to host conferences and events over the coming months.

“Meanwhile, restrictions on indoor team sports will also mean a reduction in activity levels and could particularly hit those whose participation has been limited during the pandemic.

“We will continue to work with the government over the coming days and weeks to ensure the challenges facing our sport are understood and can be overcome.”

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Twins, Tigers will miss Gardenhire in dugout

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When the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers begin a quick two-game series Tuesday night, manager Ron Gardenhire will be watching from home.

Gardenhire surprised the baseball world by announcing his retirement Saturday afternoon, citing personal health as the main factor in his decision to hang up the cleats one week before the 2020 regular season concludes.

Gardy has been a mainstay in Twins-Tigers games since becoming Minnesota’s manager in 2002. Gardenhire collected a 1,068-1,039 record with the Twins from 2002-14, posting a winning season in eight of 13 campaigns. He carried himself with a humorous, light-hearted attitude — with everyone but umpires, that is, as Gardy was ejected from 73 games while at the helm of the Twins.

Gardenhire was named the American League Manager of the Year after leading Minnesota to a 94-68 record in 2010. He’s the only Twins manager to have won consecutive division titles, doing so twice with three straight banners from 2002-04 and two in 2009-10. Rocco Baldelli could become the second.

At age 60, Gardenhire was hired as manager of the Tigers in 2018. He registered a 132-241 record with the rebuilding franchise from 2018-20 and went 15-26 against the Twins.

Gardenhire was let go by Minnesota following the 2014 season. Paul Molitor filled in for four campaigns before Derek Falvey and Thad Levine ushered in Baldelli as manager in 2019.

Baldelli owns a 134-63 record (.618) over his first two seasons, which is the fifth-best winning percentage for a manager through two campaigns in MLB history. The Twins are tied with Houston and the New York Yankees for the best AL records since the start of 2019.

NOTABLE

— Twenty-five of Miguel Sano’s 36 hits have been for extra bases — 12 doubles and 13 home runs. That adds up to 69.4% of Sano’s hits this season, which would go down as the highest percentage of extra-base hits in a single season, besting Barry Bonds (68.6%).

— Miguel Cabrera has smacked 42 career homers against the Twins. The former two-time MVP has smacked seven dingers this season in 208 plate appearances.

— Homer Bailey is one of 11 different pitchers to start a game this season for the Twins. Only Boston (15) and Tampa Bay (12) have used more starters.

Statistics courtesy Sportradar, baseball-reference.com



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