Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr comeback fight declared a DRAW as ageing legends clash in Los Angeles
With a combined age of 105, Tyson and Jones Jr were always unlikely to produce anything like the fireworks of their heyday but both men put on a passable show across eight two-minute rounds at the Staples Center.
When the fighting was done, both men looked worn out after a bout in which large spells were spent in a clinch but Tyson in particular showed some flashes of his erstwhile brilliance and appeared to do the sharper work throughout the contest.
Under the rules of the bout sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, no winner was declared in the ring but a panel of judges assembled by the WBC outside the arena announced that it should be a draw.
Tyson, who was stepping between the ropes to compete for the first time since 2005, declared himself happy with the result — while Jones praised his fellow boxing icon but said he felt he had done enough to be declared the winner.
Anyone expecting anything like former glories from the two fighters would inevitably have been left disappointed by the contest, anticipation for which had been stoked by promoters with pay-per-views to sell and by the fighters themselves with their steady stream of short, slick clips on social media showing bursts of their supposedly enduring speed and power.
That was content made for the social media age but converting it into a longer contest — even if only across eight truncated rounds — was always likely to be a much bigger challenge.
In the event, 54-year-old former world heavyweight champion Tyson and erstwhile four-weight world champion Jones Jr, 51, battled through the bout admirably with enough glimpses of action to keep fans happy but mostly at a predictably plodding pace.
Confusion had abounded ahead of the bout over what exactly the rules were and whether knockouts would be allowed, but Tyson in particular looked like he was pressing for the win and potentially a fan-friendly finish.
The fighter once dubbed the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ was a sight to behold in his famous black shorts, and most observers would have picked him as their winner as he appeared to look livelier and do the sharper work across the eight rounds.
Jones Jr, who holds dual American and Russian citizenship, seemed more content to let Tyson push the pace and did most of his work from a distance.
TYSON SHOWS FLASHES OF FORMER GLORY
From round one, Tyson showed his trademark head movement and landed a solid left hook, although Jones Jr remained unrattled.
Setting out his stall early, Jones Jr appeared more content to do his work from distance and utilizing his left jab.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pair began to clinch heavily for large spells from the second round in a bid to catch a breather.
Showing his own eagerness, Tyson landed a body shot after the bell had gone at the end of the second round but any animosity or malicious intent was soon defused as the pair hugged.
Tyson continued to look the sharper man through the middle rounds, landing some clean punches but clearly lacking the power with which they were once laden.
Iron Mike tried to work the body in round four and looked like he was pushing for the win, also connecting with some good shots at the end of the fifth stanza.
The former heavyweight king started round six bouncing on his feet and again tried to press the pace, but Jones was again more cautious and more in keeping with the exhibition nature of the bout.
The 51-year-old did liven up in the closing two rounds, but there was never any sign of the fireworks craved by some fans.
REMATCH ON THE CARDS?
Tyson said afterwards that he was hoping it would not be a one-off comeback for him.
"Yeah but I’m good with a draw, because I entertained the crowd, the crowed was happy with it," he said.
“I’m used to doing it for three minutes, sometimes like two minutes or three minutes.
“I was very happy to be here, despite what everyone says I was happy to go to eight rounds.
“Nobody thought I could go eight rounds, but you've got to go the distance, that's boxing.”
Jones Jr praised Tyson, also hinting at a potential rematch.
“We've got to do this again, everybody loves Mike, I love Mike too but it's something else taking punches from Mike,” said Jones Jr, who called time on his 75-fight professional career as recently at 2018.
“I'll go talk to my family, see how they feel about it and if they want to do it again, we'll do it again,” he added.
Most boxing fans, meanwhile, will likely have been content to see this as a one-off spectacle and will simply be pleased that both emerged with their health intact – and their bank balances boosted.