By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO
Two of the most exhilarating fighters in the 1980s and 1990s, none other than Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., returned to the ring to compete in a long-awaited boxing duel to provide the sports world a much-needed spark of entertainment in the midst of such difficult times that the country is facing.
Tyson, one of the most explosive heavyweight champions that boxing has ever witnessed, and Jones, named Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s who wowed fans and commentators with dazzling speed and unrivaled flamboyance, headlined the pay-per-view main event featured on Triller on Nov. 28 at the Staples Center.
Also, the bout was the first featured on the newly established Legends Only League, a sports league co-founded by Tyson.
The exhibition was eight two-minute rounds, prohibited knockouts (which had everyone somewhat perplexed) and had no judges, which is why the fight resulted in a draw. However, the overwhelming majority of social media felt Tyson clearly won being that he landed more punches and seemed to be the aggressor in every round.
The 54-year-old and 51-year-old displayed impressive conditioning and sharpness for their ages. Tyson exhibited the patented Cus D’Amato peek-a-boo style while Jones exhibited glimpses of speed as he utilized his jab, stayed on the outside and at other times tying Tyson up to prevent getting seriously hurt.
For Tyson – who last fought 15 years ago – the exhibition match was the culmination of a highly anticipated comeback journey. The former undisputed heavyweight champ lost 100 pounds to get back into fighting shape and prepare for Jones.
Jones, a four-weight division title holder who made history as the only boxer that began his career as a light middleweight and went on to win a heavyweight title, last fought professionally in 2018, which might have slightly worked to his advantage.
In a joint post-fight interview with sportscaster Jim Gray, Tyson and Jones acknowledged each other. Aside from the competitive nature of the fight, the two squared off in something bigger than boxing.
When Gray asked Tyson if he would return to the sport of boxing in a “non-exhibition circumstance,” Tyson responded: “This is bigger than fighting for winning a championship. We’re humanitarians, we’re helping people – that’s bigger. I’m into that now.”
Jones and Tyson hinted at a rematch while other legends like Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis were rumored to make comebacks, but only time will tell.
“It’s only a blessing from God… for us to be able to bounce back like this. Not just me. Me and him (Tyson).” Jones said at a press conference following the fight.
“It wasn’t something that I planned on doing but I knew something was going to happen eventually. And to get that opportunity to go out and give the world something to look forward to that was positive – it’s a beautiful thing.”