Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. roll back the year, but boxing is not a game at any age | Sports

Boxing redeemed the reputation of the unexpected theater on Saturday night with a long-awaited exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. It wasn’t shocking.

The two Quinquagenarian fistam legends struggled with an unofficial shared draw during their eight-round excursion, which introduced a fast-moving, cleanly produced television show from a first broadcaster full of unexpectedly entertaining struggles and seamlessly integrated musical performances.

Yes, the main event was nostalgia porn, which promised clients to get a glimpse of what made Tyson and Jones so compelling athletes in the best age. But he unlikely performed. Tyson spent most of the night straight in his opponent’s chest, blowing up the energy with a combination of a couple or two. Complicated by inferior conditioning, Jones spent most of the night distancing himself, trying to catch him with pushes.

As it was sanctioned as an exhibition, no official scoring took place. But the World Boxing Council has commissioned three former fighters to remotely obtain and deliver the unofficial result. Christy Martin set Tyson 79-73, Vinny Pazienza (absurdly) 80-76 for Jones and Chad Dawson 76-76. (The Guardian was 79-73 for Tyson.)

Expectations of the event are so alienated that anything other than total farce can be considered a victory. But the whole event went so well that afterwards Tyson was eager to do it again as soon as possible.

The former undisputed heavyweight world champion said he wanted to fight “once every two months” at a long post-fight press conference, primarily to support his charitable efforts. “It’s better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said. – We’re humanitarian now. We can do something good for the world. We need to do this again. He added: “You have to be competitive. I once fought 15 fights in a year. Let’s try and work closer to that. “

Not long after, the idea arose that Tyson would struggle with today’s heavyweight champions with combat shows. The possibility that the self-known “egomaniac” did not reject outright. “They can probably take it now, but can they take 10 fights later – if I have 10 fights?” he said.

Don’t take it on yourself. Keep in mind that Saturday’s event was approved by the California State Athletics Commission as an exhibition, and not without criticism. Tyson and Jones fought two-minute rounds instead of the usual three, and used the larger 12oz gloves, which give less strength than the 10oz heavyweights. The tightly controlled setting ensured the safety of the fighters. Andy Foster, executive director of CSAC, says Tyson and Jones will be on a short leash and the referee is ready to intervene with a quick hook if he gets hairy. “We can’t mislead the public, because it’s some kind of real fight.” They can go in a little bit, but I don’t want people to get hurt. They know the deal.

The 220-pound Tyson made dramatic lifestyle changes as he dropped more than £ 100 on the road to Saturday’s return, followed a vegan diet, and ran, cycled and punched from 15 minutes a day through a treadmill to an exhausting workout. An inspiring story in every way. But in this case, the way should be the reward.

A sharp reminder of the dangers of our cruel sport came just before Saturday’s main event, when influential YouTube player Logan Paul battled Nate Robinson, who debuted in professional boxing. Robinson played basketball and football at the University of Washington before pursuing his 10-year career in the NBA, which included three NBA slam dunk tournament titles despite his modest 5ft 9in stature. But all kinds of innate athletics in the world can’t replace the hardness and fist sense that boxing demands. He went down three times with eight landed punches, the last of which turned motionless and turned face down on the canvas for several anxious minutes. He’s not boxing.

Watching as Tyson repels the intrusion of time and struggles to regain his youthful form briefly is a longing for a time when we were younger, perhaps a little fitter and happier, and less difficult as the years went by. But no matter how unexpectedly the brief flashes of the exhibition exceeded expectations, he should by no means be allowed to risk his long-term health in anything that resembles an actual fight. Another 16-minute blow-laugh under Evander Holyfield-controlled conditions is one thing. The intergenerational modified session with Deontay Wilder is another. After all this time, Tyson no longer has to sacrifice himself for our entertainment.