Mike Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history. Roy Jones Jr. was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, winning titles in four different weight classes.
The Nov. 28 eight-round exhibition bout between them will bring two of boxing’s biggest stars of the past 40 years into the ring together for the first time at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
Decades have passed since their respective primes. Tyson, 54, hasn’t fought in more than 15 years. But Jones, 51, believes the impressive-looking viral clips of Tyson’s training sessions aren’t just a tease for a pay-per-view charging $49.99.
“I think he looks awesome. He looks very good. … To see Mike be able to hit the pads and the body bag the way he’s doing it, it’s phenomenal. It’s crazy. But we’re freaks. That’s why this is such a big thing,” Jones said during Thursday’s virtual press conference. “We’re two of the most explosive guys to ever touch a boxing ring. At 54, I want to watch him beat the mitts and bag more than any guy right now because it’s so exciting. … He inspires me by how hard he’s preparing to get back in the ring.”
Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs) seemed as curious as millions of fans to see how his training sessions and seven-round sparring sessions translate to fight night.
“I’ve been boxing younger guys and harder guys, and they’re assuring me that I’m doing very well. I’m looking forward to this,” Tyson said. “The last time I was 215 pounds, I believe I was 18 or 17 years old. I’m really happy with everything that I’ve been doing. Just total confidence and self-affirmation, it’s just amazing. I’m ready to do this stuff. I can’t even explain it with words.”
As quick and powerful as Tyson’s punches currently appear, he was still in his 30s when the former undisputed champion lost the final two fights of his career to unheralded boxers Danny Williams and Kevin McBride.
“I was happy to leave the ring. I dreaded being in the ring at that time. I was fighting for financial purposes. I was on drugs. I was a whole different person back then,” Tyson said. “I have the desire to do this now and the will to do this now. I’m just ready to do this, and I feel really great, and I want to see how great I look.
“I just feel magnificent.”
Jones (66-9, 47 KOs), who most recently fought in 2018, repeatedly scoffed at suggestions the exhibition — featuring two-minute rounds and 12-ounce gloves — would simply amount to a high-profile sparring session.
“Who goes in the ring with the great, legendary Mike Tyson and thinks this is an exhibition?” Jones said. “You’re fighting the great Mike Tyson. You better be prepared.”
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