Former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is making a comeback.
Tyson, 54, will fight Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition on Sept. 12 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The bout will be broadcast on pay-per-view as well as multimedia platform Triller. According to a news release, Triller will also show a 10-part docuseries leading up to the bout.
Tyson (50-6) has caused a stir on social media the past few months as he posted footage of himself training. He last fought 15 years ago, when Kevin McBride stopped Tyson in six rounds.
Tyson, in an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, explained his reasoning for a return to the ring.
“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.
“I never took that many punches. After the last fight I had, I left and I lived my life, and I’ve been through some experiences, and now I’m back here. I feel like I took better care of my body and my state of mind than most of the fighters before me that retired and came back.”
Jones (66-9), at his apex, was considered the most brilliant boxer in the sport, winning titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. He had a sublime mix of speed, technique and ring intelligence.
Last month, Jones, 51, expressed interest in a possible bout with Tyson.
“I’ve been trying to enjoy retirement, but people don’t seem to want to let me retire,” Jones said. “They keep calling me, telling me that Mike wants to come back, and that you’d be a great opponent for Mike.
“We always wanted to see it, but I would’ve preferred it back then. Tyson is a hell of a specimen still. Still a problem to deal with. But at the same time, life is life, you only live once. You want to know what it’s like, you go in there and see. You still gotta see it.”
“Iron Mike” was considered one of the most ferocious fighters in the world. He became the youngest heavyweight champion in history (at 20 years and four months) by stopping Trevor Berbick in two rounds in November 1986.
Tyson then ruled the division with impunity, making nine successful defenses and unifying the division before being upset by Buster Douglas in February 1990.
After spending three years in jail for a rape conviction, Tyson returned to boxing in 1995, then won the WBC and WBA heavyweight titles in 1996. Tyson’s last true big fight came in the summer of 2002, when he was halted in eight rounds by Lennox Lewis.
As for Jones, his career declined after he was knocked out by Antonio Tarver in 2004. That began a three-bout losing streak, and a fighter who was once considered untouchable became more and more susceptible to getting knocked out.
Jones last appeared in a professional bout in February 2018, when he defeated Scott Sigmon by decision. The last recognizable name on his ledger, Enzo Maccarinelli, knocked out Jones in four rounds in Moscow in 2015.
Tyson didn’t seem too concerned when asked about the risk he and Jones face fighting at their respective ages.
“We’re both accomplished fighters, we know how to take care of ourselves,” he said. “It’s an eight-round exhibition. And, listen, we’ll be all right. Trust me, we can take care of ourselves.”
In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Andy Foster, the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, said that he believed there wouldn’t be headgear, but that the boxers would use 12-ounce gloves.
On Thursday afternoon, The Athletic reported that former NBA player Nate Robinson and YouTube star Jake Paul had agreed to fight on the undercard of Tyson-Jones.
For Robinson, a 3-time NBA slam dunk champion, this will be his first boxing match. Paul has fought twice, most recently notching a first-round technical knockout of fellow YouTube personality AnEsonGib (known as Gib) back in January.