by Diego Santizo, Sports Editor
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. gave boxing a throwback party on Saturday night, with a bout headlining a pay-per-view event that was heavy on spectacle and light on serious competition.
In what was ultimately a sporting event as bizarre as the year it capped off, boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. returned to the ring in a battle of 50-year-old former champions Saturday night.
The pair of former champions, with a combined age of 105, gave fight fans every bit of nostalgia they could have asked for over eight, two-minute rounds inside the Staples Center. Though the fight ended in an unofficial split draw on the WBC-appointed judges scorecards, the bigger and better result was that neither man was badly hurt in the bout
While Jones’ return to the ring was his first since 2018, it was Tyson’s first time back in 15 years. But the man who established himself as one of the most dominant heavyweights in the game back in his prime showed glimpses of the form that made him an undisputed champion decades ago.
“The body shots definitely took a toll,” said Jones post-fight about Tyson’s attack. “It’s something to take the punches that Mike throws. I’m cool with a draw. Maybe we can do it again.”
While the event divided boxing fans between those who saw it as little more than a spectacle and others who were more than willing to indulge for a chance to see two of the sport’s best make their return, chatter about the card on social media — from YouTuber Jake Paul’s knockout win over former NBA guard Nate Robinson to Tyson and Jones’ main-event meeting — made clear the undeniable interest in the event regardless.
The empty Staples Center was transformed into a nice looking set not just for boxing, but a number of musical performances from some big-name hip hop artists that weren’t bad.
Despite the announce team having equal moments of highs and lows, it received a last-minute boost of cohesion when veteran blow-by-blow man and former WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo was added to the mix the day of.
In addition, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya showed a good deal of personality and expertise to his analysis. There were so many elements to this bizarre broadcast that should have failed yet somehow didn’t with probably the biggest talking point of the night.
Snoop Dogg on commentary stole the show.
Snoop was hilarious when comparing Tyson and Jones to his uncles fighting at a backyard barbecue and his singing after Nate Robinson was knocked out cold was the perfect mix of inappropriate fun. UFC has experimented in the past with using Snoop as a commentator on an alternate version of its broadcast and also lent his voice to the UFC video game. A stunt like this can only work in this type of setting where entertainment is almost paramount to what happens inside the fighting surface. But it worked.
Even though it was an exhibition, it was exciting for boxing fans to see Tyson and Jones in the same ring trading blows, especially when it seemed unlikely either would step into a ring again. Tyson went 50-6 during his professional career, which ended in 2005. Jones retired in 2018 after improving to 66-9 with a win over Scott Sigmon.