It felt surreal watching Roy Jones Jr. and Mike Tyson actually face off in a ring, but I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t excited as hell that they were actually going to do it, even if it was 20 years too late.
Consider that at the time Jones made his boxing debut in 1989, Tyson was at the apex of the sport—the baddest man in the planet, having just eviscerated rival Michael Spinks in one round.
That he was able to chart a career that would eventually make him worthy of facing off against Mike Tyson even if back then it was considered a dream match-up in early 2000 is a testament to Jones’ greatness.
He would eventually become the heavyweight champion (a feat not previously done by any junior middleweight ) when he wrested the IBF crown from John Ruiz in 2003.
At that time, Tyson for his part was already on the slippery slope of his career and he was knocked out by Lennox Lewis in 2002 and went 1-2 in his last three fights.
That alone gives you perspective of how incredible that this fight still happened, albeit two decades too late.
TWO UNCLES. Perhaps rapper Snoop Dogg summed it up so bluntly yet so succinctly when he said it was like two uncles fighting at a barbeque.
And indeed it seemed that way when they squared off, two men in their 50s, their best years behind them, but still trying to recapture past glory by engaging in fisticuffs.
But as the fight wore on, you could still see glimpses of their formerly magnificent selves.
Tyson still had that snarl—or perhaps half of it, when he would unload combinations. The accuracy aspect is something else, but hey, when you haven’t done this for 15 years, you have to cut him some slack.
Jones displayed some of that lightning speed that saw him dominate and bewilder opponents at will and at times, he would catch Tyson off guard with a sneaky jab and a few hooks.
Of course, there was more hugging and clinching than fighting, and they fought for only eight rounds for two minutes per round.
But hey, everything considered, this was a very pleasing and entertaining scrap to watch. I’ve seen worse from bumbling young fighters who have the capacities of youth, but little technical skill.
All told, I have nothing but praise for these two legends who fought for charity and made a dream match-up come true.
VERBATIM. “No more excuses. This is the fight that must happen for both our legacies. Saturday night you said you were ready to fight me, so sign the contract and get in the ring, Tyson. The world is waiting and it’s on you now. I’m ready.”—Evander Holyfield (www.espn.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on Jasmin Pages, better half of my fellow SunStar Cebu sports columnist John Pages, who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!