Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr.)

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TYSON VS. JONES: GOOD OR BAD FOR BOXING?

Hi Doug,

Hope you the family and team are well and staying safe.

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. Two of my favourite fighters from history. But should they have stayed consigned to the history books?

I’m in two minds about this. On one hand if they pass all the medicals and tests it’s only fair they are passed to fight, right?

Also, it’s an “exhibition” fight, glorified sparing.

However, I can’t get the saying out of my head “you don’t play boxing”.  These guys have miles on the clock, illustrious carriers behind them, but what has cumulative damage done to them?

I’m torn to be honest. Do they deserve to have one last go before they really are too old to do it? Who am I to say no and object?

But do they need saving from themselves? A part of me also thinks, yes.

What will this fight tell us? That either are ready to challenge to Top 5 Heavyweight? Open the door to a Holyfield fight?

Finally, is this good or bad for boxing?

Will it generate interest?

Does it say boxing is in a bad place and needs this?

Will this steal the limelight from AJ, Fury and Wilder?

Lot of questions in this one this week.

Keep up the good work. – Tabraze, London, UK

Thanks for sharing all of these questions, Tabraze. I can only answer some of them, mainly the one about the fight generating interest. The answer is DEFINITELY. Mike Tyson is a household name worldwide, and Roy Jones Jr. is known to all boxing aficionados and even to general sports fans (over 30).

They were the most dominant and dynamic champions of their eras (during their primes). And fans don’t forget about those special reigns. There’s no end to the sports icon nostalgia. Look how well The Last Dance documentary series did. Hell, in the age of the pandemic, the public is hungry to watch anything, from Trolls: World Tour to Tiger King, en masse.

If you thought general sports talking heads went ga-ga for Mayweather-McGregor, wait until you see what they do with the subject of Tyson-Jones. (Heck, look how hyped YOU are just by the announcement of the exhibition. You’re asking me rapid-fire questions like a kid on Christmas Eve, “When’s Santa Clause gonna get here?” “Is he gonna come down the chimney?” “Will he eat the cookies and milk we left him?” “Am I gonna get those G.I. Joes I asked for?” LOL)

Will this fight steal limelight from the heavyweight stars? Of course, it will. They’re all on the shelf until at least December, and the only matchup that could steal their thunder back is Fury vs. Joshua, but we know that won’t happen next. So, in the meantime, I guess the old-timers are gonna take center stage.

Does Tyson-Jones say that boxing is in a bad place? Yes. If Joshua-Wilder and Spence-Crawford had been made in 2018 or 2019, either making for great fights or establishing bona-fide modern superstars and setting up return bouts or other glamor matchups, an exhibiton like Tyson-Jones wouldn’t be taken as seriously or receive as much attention. But the top fighters of this era don’t fight each other enough to satisfy boxing’s core fans or sustain the attention of the casual observers.

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Prime Mike Tyson prior to fighting Joes Ribalta. He weighed in at 213 pounds for that 1986 bout. Photo by THE RING Archive

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. Two of my favourite fighters from history. But should they have stayed consigned to the history books? I think so. I think both super-talents should have hung up their gloves shortly after their “prime decades” – the 1980s for Tyson, the 1990s for Jones. Had Tyson retired before (or even a year or two after) The Bite Fite, his legacy would be a lot less tarnished. Had Jones retired after besting John Ruiz (or even after the first Antonio Tarver fight) in 2003, there would be a fanatical legion of fans, media and pundits declaring him to be the G.O.A.T.

Having said that, it makes total sense that they would forge on way past their primes and would want to make comebacks in their 50s. Boxing is their trade. It’s what they dedicated their lives to. Jones seemed to enjoy it more after he lost a few fights (even the ones by brutal knockout). Tyson lost his love for it by the early ’90s, but he seems to be a good place now, physically, mentally and spiritually, so I’m not surprised that his recent workouts have rekindled the fire in his belly.

I’m in two minds about this. On one hand if they pass all the medicals and tests it’s only fair they are passed to fight, right? Wrong. Just because you pass some medical tests – even stringent neurological exams – doesn’t mean you should be allowed to get punched in the head. Bro, trust the words of someone who just turned 50. There’s a BIG difference between a man’s athletic ability/durability in his 20s and 30s and what he can do and take in his 40s and 50s. Both Tyson and Jones lost their reflexes to avoid getting caught with big shots, as well as their ability to take hard punches, by their mid-to-late 30s.

Also, it’s an “exhibition” fight, glorified sparing. You can get f__ked up BAD in sparring and exhibitions. I suffered concussions and got my ribs busted in sparring sessions. I took part in a charity event of boxing “exhibitions” that featured Riddick Bowe and Tommy Morrison 10 years ago. Those two former heavyweight champs took it easy on their “opponents” – two local cops – but they still bloodied (and likely broke) the noses of the novices.

However, I can’t get the saying out of my head “you don’t play boxing”. That’s because you don’t!

These guys have miles on the clock, illustrious carriers behind them, but what has cumulative damage done to them? That’s THE question, isn’t it?

I’m torn to be honest. Do they deserve to have one last go before they really are too old to do it? They were too old to do it 15 years ago.

Who am I to say no and object? You’re nobody, just like me and everyone reading this column. They’re gonna do what they want to do. Only a state athletic commission can stop them, but that would only work in that commission’s jurisdiction. They could easily take their show to another state.

But do they need saving from themselves? A part of me also thinks, yes. You answered your own question.

What will this fight tell us? Nothing.

That either are ready to challenge to Top 5 Heavyweight? Good Lord, no!

Open the door to a Holyfield fight? Probably, but let’s hope not.

Finally, is this good or bad for boxing? It’s good that everyone will be talking about boxing and reminiscing about two iconic former champions and their amazing careers. It’s bad that the sport would allow them to endanger themselves and that the matchup will overshadow quality matchups between fighters in their primes, such as the Charlo-Rosario/Charlo-Derevyanchenko doubleheader.

 

IRON MIKE VS. RJJ

Hey Dougie,

Just wanted to give my two cents on this exhibition fight. It’s crazy to see them in the ring finally after all these years. It was certainly a dream fight back in the day. No obviously this is only an exhibition and that’s what should be expected from it but what I really wanted to say is that what Mike Tyson is doing with this Legends only League is so cool, I mean a lot of old retired athletes lose purpose in life because they can’t do what they love anymore. Doing something like this, even if its only exhibition fights not only gives them the opportunity to earn a living, it also brings some much needed life to these dudes.

I hope they do good. I hate seeing Roy fighting young guys getting KDout because he still wants that adrenaline fix that boxing gives him. With this he can compete with guys his age in a more friendly way and get some money out of his name that he built over the course of their career. Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde

He can still get KTFO, Juan. Don’t let the term “exhibition,” headgear and 12-ounce gloves fool you. Tyson, who punches hard enough to kill you wearing 18-ounce gloves, is not going to hold back. And if Jones is able to make Tyson miss, you best believe he’s going to try and make the Brooklyn native pay. If he’s able to evade Tyson for three or four rounds and sees the 54 year old slowing down and tiring out, I think we both know he might go on the attack and try to score a stoppage before Round 8.

These are fiercely proud competitors, Juan. You know this. It won’t be a friendly celebrity boxing match, which means fans in attendance in Carson, California, and those who order the PPV, will be treated to a thrill to remember, but it also means the 51 year old and the 54 year old will inflict physical damage upon each other.

 

RANDOM QUESTIONS

Hi Dougie,

I hope that these times find you well. Just a few random questions I wanted to ask …..

Tank Davis …. I think that the man is greatly talented but strangely may not have anywhere to go without being tested severely. He struggles to make 130 (possibly 135 also) where Berchelt reigns. At lightweight he has Loma, Teofimo Lopez, Haney among others. I view any of those as his toughest fight on paper to date. Which one do you think he has the best chance against?

Roy Jones Jr. vs Mike Tyson ….  I’ve recently heard rumblings that these two may possibly get together on an exhibition match. I think you may have answered this before but how do you think Roy would have done had he fought Tyson after the Ruiz bout?

Charlo vs. Deveryanchenko …. I think this a very close, possibly exciting scrap. How do you see it playing out?

Lastly, I was a big fan of the 90’s WW fighters mainly because we got to see a lot of them match up. I had a few MMs of some we missed:

Trinidad vs. Quartey

Vernon Forrest vs. De La Hoya

Vernon Forrest vs. Trinidad

Thanks. – Jamaal, Louisiana

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Jamaal. It’s always good to hear from you.

Your Mythical Matchups:

Trinidad vs. Quartey – Tito by close unanimous decision in a fight of the year candidate. Quartey’s piston-like jab troubles the Puerto Rican star throughout, but Trinidad gets around Ghanaian’s left stick with his straight right and lethal hook, scores at least two knockdowns and has Bazooka out on his feet in the final round.

Vernon Forrest vs. De La Hoya – The Golden Boy takes a controversial majority decision in a tactical contest. Forrest wins the battle of the elite jabs, but De La Hoya controls with the pace and distance with his lateral movement. Oscar settles down to fire flashy body head combos at the end of each round, stealing many of the close ones on the official judges scorecards.

Vernon Forrest vs. Trinidad – Tito by close decision. Viper starts fast and scores a third-round knockdown with a vicious straight right, but Trinidad pops up with a vengeance and nearly stops the Georgia native with an assortment of hooks, crosses and body shots in Round 5. Forrest survives and boxes the second half of the bout on the move. Trinidad remains in somewhat plodding hunter mode but is able to land his jab enough to sway the judges in close rounds.

Tank Davis …. I think that the man is greatly talented but strangely may not have anywhere to go without being tested severely. That not a bad thing for him or the fans.

He struggles to make 130 (possibly 135 also) where Berchelt reigns. He definitely struggles to make 135. I don’t think there’s any chance of him making 130 pounds vs. Leo Santa Cruz.

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Devin Haney is a potential ring rival for Gervonta Davis.

At lightweight he has Loma, Teofimo Lopez, Haney among others. What!? No mention of Ryan Garcia? You hater!

I view any of those as his toughest fight on paper to date. Which one do you think he has the best chance against? I think Davis’ best shot would be against Devin Haney because the WBC beltholder isn’t as experienced as Lomachenko and he’s not as powerful as Lopez. However, I would favor Haney in that matchup. He’s got a better/more complete boxing foundation than Davis in my opinion. He also seems more mature.

Roy Jones Jr. vs Mike Tyson ….  I’ve recently heard rumblings that these two may possibly get together on an exhibition match. Your sources are good!

I think you may have answered this before but how do you think Roy would have done had he fought Tyson after the Ruiz bout? I think the late 2003/early 2004 version of Tyson would have been very dangerous for the 193-to-200-pound version of Jones. (I thought Jones was better off facing Evander Holyfield and that James Toney would have a better shot at Tyson.) Jones liked to slow down the pace of his fights and control the distance so he could avoid shootouts and take his time to choose the right power punches. He was almost always able to do this at 160 and 168 pounds

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Danny Williams was able to survive Tyson’s opening round onslaught (barely) in 2004. Would Roy Jones have been able to weather the storm?

because of his otherworldly speed and one-hitter-quitter power at these weights. He wasn’t as devastating at 175, but he could inflict enough pain and damage early to keep most light heavyweights in check. Although he got into Ruiz’s head, I don’t think he

could intimidate a bona-fide heavyweight intimidator like Tyson, who always wanted to set a frenetic pace and quickly overwhelm his opponents. I think the form Tyson showed vs. Cliff Etienne and in the first round vs. Danny Williams (before he hurt his leg) would have been enough to overwhelm Jones, who had a bad habit of going to the ropes and covering up when he was swarmed. Tyson was still quick for a heavyweight and his jab and upper-body movement likely would have enabled him to close the distance on Jones. I don’t think Jones could survive an exchange with Tyson. A hook, cross or uppercut would put him to sleep. Of course, if Jones were able to get past the third round, who knows?

Charlo vs. Deveryanchenko …. I think this a very close, possibly exciting scrap. How do you see it playing out? I think it’s an even matchup and it will be a close, distance fight. I slightly favor the younger, fresher fighter, which is Charlo, whose jab should serve him well against the rugged-but-ring savvy Ukrainian.

 

TYSON AND WILDER (AND THEIR FOES)

Hi Dougie,

I saw some comments from the Bronze Bomber recently, saying Tyson never really beat anyone good. He has a semi valid point, but could the same not be said about him?

I don’t see any of Wilder’s victims giving Tyson any trouble, but I think several of the fighters Tyson beat could potentially outbox Deontay. Tony Tucker, an older Holmes, Tubbs, maybe even Spinks & Thomas.

I know Wilder could end the fight at any moment, but would you give any of them a chance against him?

P.S I don’t think Wilder would like the taste of Bruno’s jab and straight right very much either (although Frank’s chin let’s him down sooner or later). Thanks mate. Regards. – Will

If Bruno allowed Wilder’s KO Artist reputation to intimidate him, I think the American would bomb the British star out in the early rounds of a wild (and sloppy) shootout. If Bruno could control his emotions (and get his jab off), he’d have a shot of taking Wilder into deep water and drowning him.

I saw some comments from the Bronze Bomber recently, saying Tyson never really beat anyone good. He has a semi valid point, but could the same not be said about him? Wilder has only faced three Ring-rated heavyweights: Bermane Stiverne (first fight), Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury.

I don’t see any of Wilder’s victims giving Tyson any trouble, but I think several of the fighters Tyson beat could potentially outbox Deontay. Tony Tucker, an older Holmes, Tubbs, maybe even Spinks & Thomas. I can envision those classy heavyweight stylists outboxing Wilder, but I can also see the Alabaman bombing them out at some point during a 12-round bout. By the way, I think Tyson Fury would give Mike Tyson some trouble.

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s Instagram Live every Sunday.

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