Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. were once tied together for a possible heavyweight showdown when both were active professional boxers. Now, with both men in their 50s, they are set to meet in an exhibition fight on Nov. 28.
The two men participated in a press conference Thursday in anticipation of the fight, with both men talking up the importance of the fight and addressing their preparation at their advanced age.
“I think he looks awesome,” Jones said of recent footage of Tyson training in the gym. “He looks very good. I was very proud to see him bounce back the way he did. Most guys, at 54, they start counting themselves out. Think about it, when I came along, at 32 years old, you were considered an old guy who couldn’t box no more. Seeing Mike hit the pads and the body bag the way he’s doing it, it’s phenomenal. But, we’re freaks. That’s why this is such a big thing.”
Tyson said that he has been sparring, and has gone as long as seven rounds. The fight is an eight-round affair, featuring two-minute rounds, which Tyson took issue with because “the women fight two minutes.”
“I look at film of Roy when he was at his best because that’s the guy I anticipate fighting,” Tyson said. “I’m in the best shape. I boxed seven rounds so far and it keeps improving. I’m boxing younger guys and hungry guys and it’s showing me that, from the looks of things, I’m doing really well.”
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California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster stated that the bout, which takes place at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, should not be confused with a “fight-fight” and that the fighters have been instructed to not go beyond “hard sparring.” Foster also said referee Ray Corona will be enforcing that neither man is to actively look for a knockout and will keep the intensity of the bout in check.
Both Tyson and Jones took issue with that line of thinking when asked how they will approach the fight under these guidelines.
“Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about that it’s not a real fight,” Tyson said. “It’s Mike Tyson and Roy Jones and I’m coming to fight and I hope he’s coming to fight. That’s all you need to know.”
Jones doubled down on the thinking, stating, “First of all, if you think you’re going to get in the ring with Mike Tyson, the last guy to get an ‘exhibition’ with Mike got dropped in the first round. If you don’t know that, there’s something wrong with you. Who goes in the ring with the great, legendary Mike Tyson and thinks ‘Oh, this is an exhibition’? 12-ounce gloves? No headgear? Really? This is an exhibition? Come on, bro. Be real.”
The original plans with the CSAC included the fight not being scored. The fight has changed slightly, with the WBC entering the picture and implementing a remote scoring system while also putting up a “Frontline Championship” they created for the fight.
Asked why they would open up their exhibition to an “alphabet organization” like the WBC, especially in light of Floyd Mayweather’s recent comments that boxing is hurt by the number of belts in the sport, Jones became visibly upset.
“I don’t give a damn what nobody got to say. I do what I do, my business is my business,” Jones said. “I don’t care what [Mayweather] or nobody else says. It’s got nothing to do with him. This ain’t got nothing to do with him. He can stay in his lane and do what he’s got to do. Let me do what I do. Secondly, when I was fighting, I wasn’t like them. I went and got every belt possible in my weight class at the time. Mike did the same thing. We come from the old school. We want every belt you got, I don’t care what kind it is. It can be the Joe Petty Seafood belt. I want that. If you want to see me perform and you put a belt on the line? It’s like drugs, I can’t say no.
“It don’t mean nothing to him, maybe. But it means the world to me.”
Tyson didn’t have much to add, but did support Roy’s message, stating, “He said it all. It’s like drugs.”