The Tyson-Jones Fight….Is It a Good Thing?

Mike Tyson is back. Roy Jones is back.

Or are they?

The two former champions have scheduled themselves in an eight-round "exhibition" match to take place right outside Los Angeles - to be precise, at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson (formerly known as the Home Depot Center), which has recently been the home of the NFL's Los Angeles Chargers.

The date is September 12, giving some indication that it has been talked about for a while. Indeed, there is already the involvement of a social media network. Triller, a competitor of sorts with Tik Tok which seems to cater to an extremely young crowd, will provide some "shoulder" programming with a ten-part reality series, and will also carry the fight itself in some way. There is also a pay-per-view arrangement of some kind.

Well, it makes sense, I suppose, for this burgeoning social platform, which is as motivated for attention as the two prospective competitors seem to be.

So the question that keeps getting raised is, can this be good for boxing?

I wish I could say that the opinion of my former boxing colleagues was split on this fight; that some would be strongly in favor of the fight taking place, while others would be perturbed. But most of the response ranges from indifference to bemusement to outright disgust.

To a surprising degree, they don't think the fact that this fight is taking place and is getting some attention is meaningful at all.

But maybe it should be significant.



 

The fact of the matter is, it's the poor job boxing in general does in promoting itself that leads to events like this being conceived out of whole cloth.

Some of the events we've seen in a boxing ring that drew the most buzz in recent years were off the beaten path, to say the least. The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight put an MMA champ into his first pro boxing experience and drew a ton of viewers. There were the two fights between YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI . Now Logan's brother Jake Paul is fighting Nate Robinson on the Tyson-Jones undercard.

Those who would advocate for such a thing say that it brings more attention to boxing. But is it the right kind of attention? The kind of attention that does the sport any good in the long run? Look - these fights are not for the purists. They are for the casual fan. And if attention comes by way of bastardizing the sport itself, it will generally play into the perception of boxing as being a circus.

That may be the residual effect.

But some of this comes by way of a lack of real marketing on the part of the people who promote the product.

If the number of genuine pay-per-view stars boxing has is any barometer, this industry is dragging a little.

When you think about it, who's immediately recognizable? Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao, and who else beyond that? Who else could carry a pay-per-view event on his own? I'm not even sure this current crop of heavyweights can do it; perhaps Tyson Fury has the best chance. As far as anyone else's bankability, it's, well, minimal. As they would say in Hollywood, there are precious few people who can "open a movie.".


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But everyone knows Tyson, right? A sufficient number of people know Jones. And there has to be some value in all that - for the casual fans we speak of.

As far as analyzing this fight is concerned, let me first say that the way this is about to be pushed, if it just wound up with Tyson and Jones playing patty cake with each other, you're going to see a lot of unhappy people who'll want their money back. My own sense is that this will be an "exhibition" in name only.

I took a look through the regulations governing the California State Athletic Commission, and there really aren't any specific provisions regarding boxing exhibitions. I also take into consideration that on Friday night, the commission allowed a 42-year-old woman - who'd never had a real professional fight, against a pro opponent with a win on their record - to fight a talented world champion with an 18-0 record, and the result was a SEVEN-second knockout in what was one of the most shameful things I have ever seen.

So let's just say it's like the Wild Wild West out there. Sure, they'll have bigger gloves, I'm certain, but otherwise it's anything goes.

When I was in the business, I sent a couple of my guys up to Tyson's training camp in the Catskills for sparring duty. They were getting paid $1400 a week, while being required to spar just two rounds a day. You see, Tyson was not exactly casual like Muhammad Ali when it came to sparring. He worked without headgear, and he made a habit of beating sparring partners up.

My point is, it's not his nature to be going "half-speed."


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Of course, what is "full-speed" to him now is a bit different than what it meant back in 1988. The public has been exposed to some very impressive clips of Tyson working out, but those have been short clips. They are not indicative of whether he can keep up any respectable level of intensity as rounds progress.

Let's not forget either that when last seen in a ring, back in 2005, Tyson was stopped by one Kevin McBride, who was, at best, a middle-of-the-road ten-round heavyweight. AT BEST. So I doubt there is a George Foreman-like comeback in the offing.

Still, there is nothing worse than a fighter whose greatness depended on speed having to make do after losing it. And Jones lost most of it long before he actually retired. When a guy like him can't move quickly and throw lightning-fast combinations, he leaves himself much more vulnerable to getting hit. When getting hit solidly, his chin was, to be polite, somewhat suspect.

And even though Jones was once the WBA heavyweight champion, he never really was a heavyweight.

At least Tyson should have some energy early, and if he can land with something solid, he's going to hurt Jones.

Look at that.....it almost seems as if I'm taking it seriously.

I've got to stop hanging out in places like this.

About the Author

Charles Jay is unlike most analysts associated with handicapping and the gaming industry, in that he also has had extensive experience in the so-called "mainstream" media as well.

He has been involved with professional sports industry for almost two decades, working in all capacities, as a matchmaker, booking agent, manager, and also as an editorial consultant on USA Network's "Tuesday Night Fights," which, for a time, carried "Charles Jay's Line" on upcoming fights. As a broadcaster, he has called world title fights around the world for various outlets, and has served as a color commentator for Sunshine Network and Prime Network.

His radio experience includes being the host of numerous programs, including "Sportswatch with Charles Jay" on KDWN in Las Vegas, "Total Action" on WAXY 790 in Miami, and "Charles Jay's Winning Edge", syndicated into 55 markets by the American Radio Networks, and he's done podcasts on all subjects related to sports, gaming and popular culture.

Working within the casino industry, he has a special events consultant for Casino Magic in Mississippi, as that venue established itself in the early 1990s as a hotbed of boxing activity in particular. Prior to this, he had been engaged as a casino gaming columnist for, among others, Casino Player, Card Player and Sports Form (now known as Gaming Today), specializing in blackjack. And later on, his investigative series on boxing, entitled "Operation Cleanup," won him much critical acclaim, including the 2003 "Dignity" Award, in the category of "Best Sports Writer," as bestowed by the Retired Boxers Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to rendering assistance to ex-fighters in need.

In 2006 he established a content services division of his company, which has eventually evolved in JayWords, and he is arguably the world's most prolific sports & gaming writer, with over 20,000 articles to his credit, the vast majority of which have been sports handicapping pieces. So you might say he has analyzed as many sporting events as anyone alive during this period. He has also brought some interest with his so-called "gimmick" odds on special events, including the Academy Awards, the NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl, for which he posted dozens and dozens of different odds propositions with various sportsbooks.

This renaissance man is a graduate of the University of Miami (Florida) who currently resides in the South Florida area.