Boxing: Mike Tyson returns as a “humanitarian”

Boxing: Mike Tyson returns as a “humanitarian”

 Last weekend in Los Angeles, a sporting contest took place which somehow seemed a “natural cap” to this strangest of years, said Jonathan Abrams in The New York Times. It was an exhibition fight between two grizzled boxers in their 50s: Roy Jones Jr, a former world champion in multiple weight classes, and the legendary Mike Tyson. Having spent the past 15 years away from the sport, Tyson, 54, recently took up training again. 

Earlier this year, a video of him sparring went viral – at which point, he was besieged with offers, including one for a match-up with Jones. Given the inevitable concerns about how safe such a contest would be, stringent conditions were imposed, said Kevin Mitchell in The Guardian. The pair had to undertake not to try to “seriously hurt each other”; rounds were two minutes, instead of three; they wore gloves that impart a lighter blow than normal – all sensible conditions, but ones that drained the fight of its competitive seriousness. 

Watching on Saturday evening, it was hard not to conclude that this was “the biggest public love-in... since hippies hugged in Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s”. Others thought so too, said Bryan Armen Graham in The Guardian: the rapper Snoop Dogg, commentating for a TV channel, said it reminded him of “two of my uncles fighting at a barbecue”. Yet perhaps the most shocking thing about that fight was that it “wasn’t terrible”. It provided evidence aplenty why these two were such “compelling athletes in their prime”. Tyson regularly summoned the energy to “explode with a combination”; Jones efficiently pecked away with counterpunches. After the eightround contest was declared an unofficial draw, a pumped-up Tyson gave a press conference in which he announced that he intends to fight “once every two months” – mainly to support his charitable efforts. “This is better than fighting for championships,” he said. “We’re humanitarians now.”

Comments