LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Speaking after Saturday’s draw with Roy Jones Jr, Mike Tyson said he absolutely would like to fight again.
“I’m happy with a draw,” Tyson said. “I thought I won but I’m happy because we entertained the fans. I’m used to doing it for three minutes. I’m just happy I got this under my belt and I’m going to continue to do more.”
“Absolutely I would do this again. I’m just happy I could go eight rounds. Knockouts mean nothing, you have to be able to go the distance.”
The former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson stepped through the ropes in his signature black trunks and heard the opening bell in a boxing ring for the first time in 15 years.
Iron Mike traded lively punches with Roy Jones Jr. for eight entertaining rounds that ended with two middle-aged legends wearily hugging each other in mutual admiration.
“I’m happy I’m not knocked out,” Tyson said. “I’ll look better in the next one.”
Their fight was only an exhibition, and it ended in a draw. But for Tyson, the experience evoked an excitement he felt in the past at the beginning of his care.
Tyson showcased heavy punches and foot moves giving a glimpse of his destructive prime Saturday night during the 54-year-old boxing icon’s return to the ring against the 51-year-old Jones.
Tyson had the most impactful punches, showing off versions of the footwork and combinations that made him the world’s most feared fighter. After eight two-minute rounds, both Tyson and Jones emerged from Staples Center smiling and apparently healthy.
“This is better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said of the heavyweight exhibition, which raised money for various charities. “We’re humanitarians now. We can do something good for the world. We’ve got to do this again.”
Tyson’s return to the ring for this show attracted international attention, and Iron Mike did his best to demonstrate his months of work to recapture a measure of the form that made him a legend to a generation of boxing fans.
Tyson tagged Jones with body shots, head shots and a particularly nasty uppercut during a bout that was required by the California State Athletic Commission to be a reasonably safe, glorified sparring session.
Tyson was exhausted two hours afterward, but also clearly energized as he recounted his emotions with his wife and team looking on.
“I took my youth for granted,” Tyson said. “This event made me find out what I was really made of. … My body feels splendid. I want to beat it up some more.”
Tyson intends to fight in more exhibitions next year, perhaps heading to Monte Carlo next to challenge a European fighter. He didn’t close the door on the possibility of a full-fledged comeback, although that would be many fights in the future.
For one night, Tyson and Jones were back at the center of the sports world, and they reveled in it.
“I’m happy to scratch that off my bucket list and move on with my life,” said Jones, the former four-division world champion widely considered the most skilled boxer of his generation. “He hit harder than I thought. Everything hurt. His hands hurt. His head hurts. Everything hurt when I made contact. He’s an exceptional puncher still. He can do anything he wants next.”
Neither fighter was deceived by the quality of the bout. While both came out throwing punches that evoked echoes of their glorious primes, they also tied up frequently on the inside, and their occasionally labored breathing could be heard on the microphones in the empty arena.
Hip hop star Snoop Dogg’s witty television commentary was among the loudest noises inside Staples, and he had a handful of zingers: “This is like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue!”
But Tyson and Jones were the headliners in the most improbable pay-per-view boxing event in years, engineered by social networking app Triller and featuring fights interspersed with hip hop performances in an empty arena.
The event was derided as an anti-sporting spectacle by some critics, yet both Tyson and Jones appeared to handle themselves capably and safely. Their fans were clearly enthralled, with the show getting enormous traction on social media.
Fans tuned in to watch Tyson, many for the first time. Any boxing fan who came of age after Tyson retired from boxing in 2005 had never seen a live fight from the legendary figure — and within the bounds of this event, Tyson delivered.
Finally free of his sport’s relentless pressure, Tyson gradually straightened out his life, kicking a self-described drug addiction and eventually succeeding in acting, stage performance, charity work and even marijuana cultivation while settling into comfortable family life in Las Vegas with his third wife and their children
Tyson and Jones negotiated with the California commission over the limitations of their bout, eventually arriving at eight two-minute rounds of hard sparring with only ceremonial judging and no official winner. The WBC still stepped in to award a ceremonial “Frontline Battle Belt” to both fighters.
Contribution by the Associated Press