Ahead of Saturday’s exhibition fight between boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., it was impossible to predict what would happen in the ring. At a combined 105 years of age and with uncertainty over the rules ahead of the event, an already unpredictable situation felt even harder to figure out. But once the men got in the ring, they went as hard as could be asked for over eight, two-minute rounds leading to a split draw on the WBC-assigned judges scorecards.
The fight was a little rough around the edges, with neither man committing to a true volume of strikes. Neither seemed to throw more than or two punches at a time before ending up in the clinch to be broken up by referee Ray Corona. Tyson occasionally landed his trademark left hook at a distance while Jones showed flashes of his old self with no-look jabs and showboating to boot.
Tyson seemed to pile up most of the early rounds, landing the cleaner punches and muscling Jones in the clinch. Jones was the more visibly fatigued man in the corner between rounds, but he continued to try to gut out the fight, turning up his volume in the later rounds. This despite Tyson being far more removed from his time as a professional fighter.
Jones’ late work served to score him enough late rounds to earn the win on one scorecard and a draw on the other. With Tyson winning the third scorecard, the fight was left a somewhat unsatisfying draw.
While Tyson said he was happy with the result, Jones was less thrilled, saying after the fight, “I wear draws, I don’t do draws.”
After the fight, Tyson told interviewer Jim Gray that he planned to move forward fighting more exhibitions and even seemed interested in running it back with Jones.
“I’m used to doing it for three minutes,” Tyson said of the rounds. “Sometimes, that two minutes felt like three minutes. I’m happy I got this under my belt to keep doing this and go further.”
Jones was less committed to fighting again, stating simply that it was “hard to say.”
Tyson did shut down any idea of coming back to the ring as a professional, however.
“This is bigger than fighting and winning the championship,” Tyson said of competing in exhibitions where he donates money to charity. “We’re humanitarians and we’re helping people.”
While Tyson and Jones’ in-ring performance definitely turned heads, what fans heard on the broadcast may have been just as good. Rap icon Snoop Dogg joined the team for the final two fights and the card and delivered some great one-liners while also openly rooting for Jones in the main event.
Tyson earned $10 million for the fight and Jones $3 million.
The lightness provided by Snoop’s commentary carried over into the post-fight interviews with Jones and Tyson, with the once feared fighters joking with each other while they basked in the bright lights of the sport’s biggest stage decades after being two of the biggest stars of their era.
Fight card, results
Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. results in an unofficial split draw