Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is returning to the ring but the rules around the fight against Roy Jones Jr mean the spectacle may be less than many expect.
The 54-year-old Tyson will face 51-year-old four-division world champion Jones Jr in an exhibition bout on September 12 under guidelines that include no judges, larger-than-normal gloves, just eight rounds and a strict law on cuts.
Without any judges to score the fight, a winner can only be determined by a knockout – which would seem on the face of it to be a recipe for excitement.
However, accompanying that rule is another that states the fight will be stopped if either fighter receives a single cut.
California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster told boxingscene.com he was behind the decision to make such a no-nonsense rule.
“They can move around and make some money, but I told them ‘if you get cut, it’s over.'”
Further compounding fears of an underwhelming event is the fact that Tyson himself is promoting finesse over the idea of knockouts – an attitude contrary to his career as a cold-blooded knockout artist.
“We’re there to show our skills, and we’re fighting. This is what I learned in boxing when I was a young boy,” he told ESPN.
However, one further remark that Tyson added to ESPN ahead of the fight gives fans a glimmer of hope that they can get a glimpse of his former glory come September.
“I’m looking to be 100 per cent of Mike Tyson in the ring … I’m a neophyte in taking it easy. I don’t know how to do it that way. I am one speed, forward. I don’t know, Roy is just going to have to deal with that.”
The comeback appears to be one part of a larger PR and business strategy that Tyson is using to redeem a reputation that has been tarnished over the years by a number of high-profile incidents and crimes.
Most notably, he was convicted of raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington in 1992, he was imprisoned again for assaulting two motorists after a traffic incident in 1998, he tested positive for marijuana after a 2000 fight against Andrew Golota, threatened to eat Lennox Lewis’ children that same year along with most-famously stunning the boxing world by biting Evander Holyfield’s ear mid-fight in 1997.
Despite filing for bankruptcy in 2003, Tyson’s current net worth is now estimated by Business Insider to be $US3 million ($NZ4.5m). However, he claims he won’t profit from the upcoming fight, instead proceeds will go to various as-yet-unnamed charities.
The eight-round fight – named “Frontline Battle” – will also be part of a pay-per-view event shown on Triller, which has also obtained streaming rights to a 10-part documentary series leading to the bout.
There is also a film currently in production, starring Jamie Foxx, which is set to chronicle the boxer’s life and career.