It may have been a circus to some. It may have, as commentator and rapper Snoop Dogg said, looked like two uncles fighting at a barbecue. But people wanted to see Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. battle in the ring.
On Saturday, Tyson and Jones’ exhibition match, which raised money for various charities and was broadcast on pay-per-view, ended in a draw with WBC judges split on scorecards.
After boxing for eight, two-minute rounds, both men looked satisfied with their efforts despite none of them landing more than a few punches at a time and constantly having to be broken up by referee Ray Corona.
Despite the plethora of online memes mocking former New York Knicks slam dunk champion Nate Robinson getting knocked out by YouTube-famous personality Jake Paul, Tyson remains the more fascinating figure to many.
Just as famous away from the ring as he was during his prime, “Iron Mike” has become a pop culture staple. From podcasts to cartoons, new generations have been introduced to the boxing legend. Sites like YouTube have solidified his legend status via user-uploaded video in the same way they have for Michel Jordan. Young people who weren’t alive during Jordan and Tyson’s prime swear by them.
It made sense that Saturday would be a big deal. It made sense that Evander Holyfield, another legend from a generation or two ago, would want to fight Tyson. It made sense that George Foreman thinks there’s a path for Tyson to reclaim the heavyweight title (as far-fetched as it would be). With a dearth of telegenic and quote-friendly boxers in the heavyweight division (and the diminishing cache of the heavyweight division), it’s only right that people would want to see the old become new again. It sounds like the “bring hip-hop back” rhetoric of the older generation, but the young people are in it too.
After the fight, Tyson told Jim Gray that he had no plans to come back and fight full-time. He just fights exhibitions to keep raising money for the causes he champions.
“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.”
Tyson coming back to the ring full-time should not be recommended, but if he does? No one will question it.