Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr will NOT be a pat-a-cake exhibition… it is shameful that the bout has been sanctioned

Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr will NOT be a pat-a-cake exhibition… it is shameful that the bout has been sanctioned

July 30, 2020

MIKE TYSON’S eight-round exhibition with Roy Jones Jr has shamefully been officially sanctioned by the Californian State Athletic Commission.

And if that’s not an example of boxing scandalously shooting itself in the foot I don’t know what is.

Last week it was announced Tyson, 54, and Jones, 51, wearing 12oz gloves — but no headguards — are going to meet behind closed doors at the misnamed Dignity Health Park, Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles.

America is a free country and if Tyson, who hasn’t been in the ring for 15 years wishes to stage a farcical comeback so be it.

And if fans are willing to pay the outrageous sum of £39 to watch this unedifying spectacle that’s their prerogative.

What I find totally abhorrent is that the California Commission, which has the reputation of being one of the strictest in the US when it comes to the health and safety of boxers, should give it their blessing.

The British Boxing Board of Control would never entertain the idea of two men in their fifties, obviously going through a form of middle-aged madness, indulging in such blatant attention-seeking.

BBBC secretary Robert Smith was being diplomatic when he told me: “I must say I’m very surprised at the California Commission, held in such high regard by every governing body in the world, allowing this to happen.”

If the California Commission had done the right and sensible thing and rejected Tyson and Jones, no doubt they would have found a rogue State to accommodate them.

Just as Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor did 30 years ago.

Pryor, one of the 20th century’s greatest fighters, following detached retina surgery, was diagnosed as being legally blind in his left eye.

Yet he still had the gall to apply to the California Commission to renew his licence to continue his career.

Hardly surprisingly his application was thrown out.

Desperate for money to feed his cocaine habit, Pryor — who held the world light-welterweight title for five years — went to Wisconsin to try his luck there.

This is where the story belongs in the can’t-make-it-up section.

Though it beggars belief, Pryor got his licence.

They are just going to be there moving around the ring and letting the fans see legends

Maureen Cummings, secretary of the Wisconsin licensing authority explained: “The State considers Pryor’s problem a handicap rather than a medical condition.

"And we have strict laws against discriminating against the handicapped.”

Aaron, who eventually kicked his drug habit, knocked out a journeyman. He was 60 when he died of heart failure four years ago.

Andy Foster, executive director of the California Commission, justified his organisation’s highly controversial decision to pander to Tyson and Jones.

He said: “They won’t be trying to hurt each other. This isn’t a situation where they are going out there to try to take each other’s heads off.

“They are just going to be there moving around the ring and letting the fans see legends.”

Tyson’s ominous reaction to that statement was: “The gods of war have reawakened me and I want to go to war again. I just know one way of fighting.”

Foster and his colleagues are banking on Tyson and Jones being involved in a pat-a-cake, so-called exhibition bout so neither of them are liable to be seriously hurt.

But once the bell sounds and the adrenaline starts pumping through Tyson’s veins, anything is likely to happen.

As Smith drily remarked: “Some of the best fights I’ve seen were supposed to be exhibitions.”

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