WHEN Roy Jones Jr. was on the cusp of history with a fight against then WBA heayweight champion John Ruiz, someone said that another fighter that would have been an ideal foe for the 5-foot-11 former middleweight champion turned heavyweight contender was the 5-foot-10 former heavyweight champion himself, Mike Tyson.
That was in 2003, when Jones was at the height of his Hall-of-Fame career and Tyson was on the tail end of his. Tyson, after losing to Lennox Lewis, beat the nondescript Clifford Etienne just seven days before Jones made history against Ruiz.
He would only have two fights more before quitting against Kevin McBride, with Iron Mike himself getting captured on camera saying he was a disgrace. Curiously, Jones’ career also took a similar if not longer turn. He beat Antonio Tarver after Ruiz to retain his light heavyweight crowns but suffered a string of losses to Tarver twice and Glen Johnson. He was never the same again and though he fought until 2018, he became a Russian and compiled a record of 66-9 with 47 KOs.
Now, 17 years after almost crossing paths, the two are duking it out finally in an exhibition match on Sept. 12, a match that is sure to raise some interest. At least, when it was first mentioned that Iron Mike would be fighting again at 53 years old, fans were speculating how’d he do against active fighters.
Thankfully, we will never see such disaster. Iron Mike or not, he’s still a 53-year-old man fighting against heavyweights.
A few weeks from now, we will learn how Iron Mike will fare against a 51-year-old Jones—a fight that won’t feature much difference in height and age. And to be honest, I’m also curious about the fight.
I wonder what sort of rules they’d use for the exhibition or how long each round would be. One thing that perhaps we can learn from the exhibition that is useful in this pandemic is how to stay in shape in your 50s. I saw a video of Iron Mike punching mitts a few weeks ago and like everyone thought, it seemed he hasn’t lost his speed. But then again, such videos are deceiving. Remember how we all thought also that Oscar de la Hoya still had it when we saw videos of his workout prior to the Manny Pacquiao retirement party?
Since I’m such a huge fan of his, I’m rooting for Iron Mike and I wonder if being one of the last great American sports icons will play a role in the promotion of his fight against an American Olympian turned Russian? We all know promoters love an angle for a drama.