Nov 27, 2020; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr. during weigh ins for a heavyweight exhibition boxing bout for the WBC Frontline Belt in Los Angeles. Mandatory Credit: Lynn Millspaugh/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

50-something Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr. hungry to fight again

Mike Tyson stepped onto a spotlighted stage Friday and weighed in at 220 kilos, ripping off his shirt to disclose a muscled torso that would belong to an athlete of half his 54 years. The former heavyweight champion moved right into a COVID-protective glass field and went nose-to-nose with Roy Jones Jr., as soon as essentially the most proficient fighter on this planet. Jones’ 210-pound body was barely much less toned, however nonetheless clearly in higher situation than most of his fellow 51-year-olds.

These two boxing greats are older, calmer males now, however they’re returning to the ring Saturday evening desiring to recapture a second of their sensible previous — they usually’ve each labored very exhausting to verify they received’t be embarrassed on this extraordinary boxing exhibition.

“This is the fun part,” mentioned Tyson, who will battle for the primary time in 15 years. “Everything else to get here was hell.”

Their battle at Staples Center is an eight-round sparring session of types. It could have two-minute rounds, no official judging and restricted violence, though the restrict is dependent upon whether or not you’re asking the California State Athletic Commission or the fighters, who each intend to let their fingers go.

“Maybe I don’t know how to go easy,” Tyson mentioned. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want the commission mad at me.”

But for Tyson and Jones, this distinctive pay-per-view present is much less of a sporting occasion and extra of an opportunity for 2 transcendent athletes to show age is a quantity — and growing older is a selection.

“I don’t look at life as age,” Tyson mentioned. “I look at life as energy. You don’t bring your age to the table. You bring your energy to the table. You don’t go meet people: ‘Hey, I’m Bob. I’m 59.’ You don’t do that.”

Tyson nonetheless appears shocked by the wave of occasions that carried him again to the ring. He admits the youthful Tyson by no means would have believed he could be a middle-aged husband and father who wanted to lose 100 kilos two years in the past, as a result of that headstrong child from Brooklyn had by no means thought that far forward.

“I didn’t even think I would live this long,” he mentioned. “I was just so intense, and just took myself so serious.”

Tyson acquired again into form on the urging of his spouse, who acquired him to start out doing 15 minutes a day on the treadmill. The 15 minutes became two hours, after which expanded to biking, operating and ultimately punching, together with the adoption of a vegan weight-reduction plan.

“Never eat anything,” he mentioned with fun. “Just starve and exercise.”

The momentum began when he posted video of a coaching session on social media early within the coronavirus pandemic, and his crisp, highly effective punches led to thousands and thousands of impressions and a subsequent stream of more and more profitable comeback gives, together with the prospect to boost cash for charities.

“This is a part of my life that I had pretty much thrown away,” Tyson mentioned. “My last fight, I didn’t have any interest in doing it. I’m interested in doing it now.”

Tyson is referring to his loss to journeyman Kevin McBride in 2005, when he lastly wrapped up his singular profession in ugly vogue. He grew to become the heavyweight champion at 20 and reigned over the division for 5 years, however his epic downfall soured him on the game.

“I want to do it now,” Tyson mentioned. “Most of the time I was obligated to do it from a contract perspective: ‘If you don’t do this, we’ll take everything you have, and you’ll be back in Brownsville.’ They were blackmailing me. It’s a different perspective now.”

While Tyson grew to become a world icon for his brutish, harmful picture and quite a few misbehaviors, Jones was extensively revered as maybe essentially the most expert boxer of his technology. Jones was a preternaturally gifted athlete who dominated his weight courses whereas nonetheless pursuing his ardour for basketball.

Nate Robinson was a rookie guard for the Knicks in 2005 when Jones participated in a full observe with the workforce.

“I was freaking out,” mentioned the 36-year-old Robinson, no stranger to freakish athletic feats as a three-time winner of the NBA Slam Dunk contest at 5-foot-9. “That was one of the highlights of my life, to be able to rub shoulders and hoop with one of your favorite boxers.”

Jones fought recurrently all through the 2010s, however thought he was lastly retired two years in the past. When he acquired a suggestion to be the opponent in Tyson’s comeback, Jones couldn’t resist the prospect to battle a legend he by no means acquired to fulfill throughout a profession spent principally at mild heavyweight.

So Jones launched into his personal comeback coaching routine.

“It’s been the craziest thing you ever could have imagined,” Jones mentioned. “I can’t believe I’m able to maintain my speed at 51 years old. I’m still faster than 95% of the boxing world, and it shocks me. The aches and pains are there because you’re 50, and they’re going to be there no matter what you do. You just have to have a mental strength to overcome an adversity.”

Tyson and Jones are returning to a brand new world of boxing fandom and consumption. This present is being promoted by Triller, a video-making app and social media platform, with a fight-night present that includes performances by a number of rappers, a surprisingly strong undercard and a co-main occasion pitting Robinson in his skilled boxing debut towards YouTube star Jake Paul.

Robinson and Paul each appear appropriately awed by the circumstances of their bout.

“You’ve got to remember, I’m 23, and this is the first time that people my age will be able to experience a Mike Tyson fight live,” Paul mentioned. ”I can’t imagine I’m part of it.”

Neither Tyson nor Jones is probably going finished with boxing after this present. Jones mentioned he hopes to battle combined martial arts legend Anderson Silva subsequent “if this one goes well,” whereas Tyson will go wherever this unusual journey takes him subsequent.

“Me being here is already a success,” Tyson mentioned. “Me just existing as a human being is a success.”