During “Iron” Mike Tyson’s 20 year professional boxing, he was the source of controversy, fear, and fascination. In 1986, he became the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of professional boxing.
Tyson, in his signature black trunks, often won fights before they began. His speed, underrated defense, and knockout power made him must-watch television in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.
But Tyson’s story is also more complicated. He spent three years in prison after a rape conviction in 1992. The former champ eventually returned the ring and earned the title belt again, but controversy continued to follow.
In an event that would foreshadow his erratic behavior, he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off during a title fight. After retirement, he battled drug use and filed for bankruptcy.
Subsequently, Tyson has rebuilt his image as a gentler person, albeit still a person you would not want to punch you.
On November 28th, Tyson — at age 54 — is once making a return to the ring to fight an exhibition against Roy Jones Jr., himself a former champion. Jones Jr. won titles in four different weight classes and was named Ring Magazine Fighter of the Decade in the 1990’s.
The fight will take place in Carson, California at the Dignity Health Sports Park on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
How does it look with sports betting? Well, Tyson is still the favorite at 1.60. Jones Jr., whose career record is 67-9, is the underdog at 2.30.
What can viewers expect?
“It’s an exhibition,” said Andy Foster of the California State Athletic Commission. “They can exhibit their boxing skills, but I don’t want them using their best efforts to hurt each other. They’re going to spar hard, but they shouldn’t be going for a knockout.”
“I have to treat it as a real fight because you never know,” Jones Jr. told The Athletic. “I’ll be in there with Mike Tyson. Mike’s too big to be playing with. There were a lot of names he could have chosen, but he chose me, so how could I say no? … I just want to fight.”
In an emotional interview on YouTube with Sugar Ray Leonard, Tyson held back tears and admitted to missing fighting, missing being feared.
“I’m not that person anymore,” he told Leonard. “And I miss him.”
Even at 54, Tyson still scares professional boxers straight. In a promotional appearance ahead of this month’s fight, Jones Jr. appeared on the Joe Rogan Show podcast and admitted that he has considered the prospect of dying in the ring.
“You get hit by Mike Tyson, anything can happen,” the 51-year old Jones Jr. told the popular podcast host. “Mike Tyson is just not an ordinary puncher.”
However, Jones Jr. admitted there are “probably one or two other ways he’d want to [die],” but, as a boxer he knows there is always that slight possibility of something going seriously wrong within the ring. “So if I gotta die boxing, I’m going to die a happy man,” the 1988 Silver Medalist said.
Tyson struck a similarly macabre tone in a recent Instagram post.
“Happiness for me?” he asked during a video of him shirtless, training. “Dying. I don’t live life too good. I don’t I don’t do well in this world. I lose a lot.”
His social media feed is a mixture of inspirational quotes, sponsored sales pitches, and training montages.
Tyson can seem soft spoken and sincere in one post, motivated and hungry in another, and menacing in the next. His signature speed and power still cultivate appreciation and awe.