Boxing icon Mike Tyson’s comeback is on — and he’ll square off with another fan favorite in Roy Jones Jr in an eight-round exhibition bout in California in September.

Tyson, 54, hasn’t fought since losing to Kevin McBride in 2005, but has been teasing a return to the ring after getting himself in tremendous shape in recent months.

He’s tantalized boxing fans with footage of him working out the gym, showing he still has at least some of the speed, power and footwork that saw him become the youngest heavyweight champion in history.

“At one time I was 40kg overweight, I was doing bad — I was doing cocaine, I was drinking — and I said ‘Allah, if you can stop me being this way, I’ll change my whole life’ and eventually I got married, my life started to change and I started working out,” Tyson told TMZ Sports.

Tyson said his interest in returning to the ring was originally sparked by an offer to fight against former MMA star Bob Sapp, before that fell through and he landed with Jones Jr.

“I don’t know how this happened, I’m just very grateful I’m not living the life I was living before,” he said.

“It’s going to be for various charities so no one has to worry about me getting rich, or getting jealous or saying I’m doing this for money. I just feel good doing this because I can.

“I’m in great shape, but I’m going to get in better condition.”

Tyson, in an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, explained his reasoning for a return to the ring.

“It’s because I can do it. And I believe other people believe they can do it too,” Tyson said. “Just because we are 54, it doesn’t mean that we have to start a new career and our lives are totally over. Not when you feel as beautiful as I do, and I’m sure that other people feel the same way.

“I never took that many punches. After the last fight I had, I left and I lived my life, and I’ve been through some experiences, and now I’m back here. I feel like I took better care of my body and my state of mind than most of the fighters before me that retired and came back.”

Jones Jr, 51, created his own legacy by becoming the only boxer to start his career at junior middleweight and go on to win a heavyweight title.

Fans will remember his ill-fated trip to Sydney to fight Danny Green in 2009, where he was knocked out just two minutes into the bout.

Jones Jr told sports.ru: “I had no intention of going back and fighting again but, for the sake of Mike Tyson, I agree to make an exception.

“For me, this is an opportunity that I cannot refuse. Of all those who wanted to go into the ring with him, he chose me. And since he did that, how can I say no?”

Tyson appeared to be smoking a joint while signing the contract for the fight in a video posted by Jones Jr to Instagram. “Thank you very much,” Tyson said.

Andy Foster, the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, confirmed that Tyson has put a hold on that date.

Foster told Yahoo Sports that he met with Tyson and Jones via Zoom recently and that the fight will be an exhibition.They won’t be wearing headgear, but will be wearing larger than normal gloves. Foster said he believed they’d wear 12 ounce gloves.

“This isn’t a situation where they’re going out there to try to take each other’s heads off,” Foster told Yahoo Sports. “They’re just going to be in there moving around the ring and letting fans see these legends.”

Last month, Jones, 51, expressed interest in a possible bout with Tyson.

“I’ve been trying to enjoy retirement, but people don’t seem to want to let me retire,” Jones said. “They keep calling me, telling me that Mike wants to come back, and that you’d be a great opponent for Mike.

“We always wanted to see it, but I would’ve preferred it back then. Tyson is a hell of a specimen still. Still a problem to deal with. But at the same time, life is life, you only live once. You want to know what it’s like, you go in there and see. You still gotta see it.”

Some in the boxing community — including former champ Ricky Hatton — have expressed concern about Tyson fighting at such an advanced age and Jones Jr — who only retired in 2018 — fought well past his use by date.

But early reports suggest the fight is being approached safely, with the combatants likely to wear larger gloves that limit the damage they can do.

“They aren’t going to try for KOs,” boxing scribe Kevin Iole reported.

But they will not be wearing headgear.

The fight is being held on September 13 (AET) and while a time has not been announced it will almost certainly be a Saturday night in the US which means Sunday lunchtime viewing in Australia.

Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles — current home of soccer’s LA Galaxy and the site of many famous boxing bouts — is the venue.

Both fighters met with the California State Athletic Commission via video chat recently to get clearance to compete.

“In this match, the referee will have the authority to stop the fight if it strays outside the boundaries of a competitive boxing exhibition,” CSAC told Sky Sports.

“Mr. Tyson and Mr. Jones Jr will have to submit all CSAC medical tests for fighters over 40 as well as CSAC’s emergency regulations that have been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Details of how much it will cost to buy the pay-per-view have not been released. Fans will not be allowed in the stands. Tyson has opened as the betting favorite.

There’s already been one fight announced for the undercard and it’s a laugher.

Former NBA guard Nate Robinson — who famously won the dunk contest three times despite only standing 175cm tall — is going to box YouTube star Jake Paul.

Robinson has never had an official fight while Paul’s only outing was on the undercard of his older brother Logan’s bout against fellow YouTuber KSI in August, 2018.

Jake Paul won his fight against Deji Olatunji via fifth round TKO.

“I wanted to show that I’m a world class athlete,” Robinson told The Athletic. “I played college football, played in the NBA for 11 years, and I’m excited for this venture in the sport of boxing. Jake Paul, I want all the smoke.”

Jake Paul: “Make no mistake, on September 12, Nate will meet the canvas early.”

Iole reported there’s likely to be boxer against MMA fighter bouts on the card too.

That Legends Only League page has more info on this fight, including that it will be “on pay-per-view and Triller.” What is Triller? Well, its site describes it as “an entertainment platform built for creators,” and many have compared it to TikTok (a comparison it’s trying hard to push). And as per Tom Tapp at Deadline, this will also come with a pre-fight docuseries on Triller, and Triller will carry all future boxing events from this “Legends Only League”:

The exhibition will take place on September 12, 2020 at 9:00pm ET on pay-per-view as well as on multi-media platform, Triller, which Relativity Media founder Ryan Kavanaugh helped fund. Triller has also obtained exclusive streaming rights to the soon-to-be-released, ten-part docuseries featuring behind-the-scenes, pre-fight footage. Two episodes will be released each week leading up to the match.

A three-hour live event, the Tyson vs. Jones fight is set for eight rounds and will be part of a multiple fight card. The program will also include significant undercard matches as well as musical performances to be announced in the coming weeks.

The fight, titled “Frontline Battle,” is the first event of a series produced under Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League, a sports venture owned by Tyson and founding STX president Sophie Watts’ Eros Innovations. The venture has partnered with Triller on all future boxing events. As part of their deal with the Legends Only League and Mike Tyson, all rights for the “Frontline Battle” are controlled by Triller. Halogen Networks, which was recently acquired by Triller, will power the streaming version of the PPV and other live streaming components of the event.




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