Watching a prime Mike Tyson box is like watching J. Dilla make a beat. Both experts at their craft, they move masterfully in their respective mediums. They weave in out of flurries of punches and melodies and drum patterns, not looking for a finish but satisfaction. Both are killers seeking blood in new, innovative ways, whether it comes on an MPC 3000 or in the ring.
The key word here is “prime.” Tyson, now 54, is more than two decades past his. So a 2020 return to the ring is puzzling. And as a boxing fan, it leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.
I grew up thinking Muhammad Ali was the greatest to ever step foot in the squared circle. That is until I watched Tyson murder Marvis Frazier in 30 or so seconds on an old VHS. While he lacked Ali’s swagger and gravitas, he possessed something greater: pure brutality.
Tyson was a monster. You could feel his punches coming through the TV. You can fly like a butterfly all you want, but the second that leather glove hits flesh, you were squashed.
But that was the 1990s. We’re now in 2020 and Tyson has changed. He got a face tattoo, became an icon thanks to his tiger in “The Hangover” and turned into a quasi-media darling. While Mike Tyson won’t ever truly be soft, it’s fair to say that he’s come a long way from the kid looking to murder anyone who touched his pigeons.
The 54 year old is set to fight Roy Jones Jr. in Staples Center Saturday. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that most boxing fans would kill to see. At least they would have killed to see it in 2000.
Instead of watching two dominant monsters at the height of their talents clashing, we’re going to pay to watch two 50 somethings duke it out.
This just feels like a mistake on so many levels. Jones retired just two years ago defeating Scott Sigmon in dominating fashion. Sure he’s 51, but he’s still fresher than Tyson.
The last time we saw Tyson fight was in 2006 in an exhibition bout to help raise funds to clear his debts. Since then, he’s been writing books, making songs and appearing on AEW.
That’s right, the last time we saw Tyson in a ring was a faceoff against Chris Jericho. Now ain’t that some shit?
While we won’t know how fresh Tyson really is until Saturday night’s main event, we do know this: boxers over 50 usually fight easy opponents. Ron Lyle, who made his comeback in 1995 at 54 years old, defeated 4 boxers with a combined record of 18-69-3. Sal Cenicola made his comeback after a 25-year hiatus in 2013 against the then-1-8 Nathan Petty. He’s 1-40-1 now.
Jones Jr., despite his age, is much better competition. And while Tyson is better than Lyle and Cenicola, the difference in competition is staggering. He’s far from an easy opponent, no matter how many training reels Tyson puts out.
While you can say Tyson isn’t fucking around, thanks to the shape he’s in, this card screams money grab. It features Jake Paul vs. Nate Robinson for god’s sake. How can I take Mike Tyson’s comeback seriously when he’s on the same card as a 3-time NBA Dunk Contest champion?
This isn’t as disgusting as watching Conor McGregor throw hammer fists at Floyd Mayweather but it comes pretty damn close. At the end of the day, we’re going to see one of boxing’s monoliths attempt a comeback for entertainment. This won’t be Tyson mauling his opponent for sport. Instead, it’s Tyson making a mockery of boxing.