Which version of Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. will show up Sept. 12?
The eight-round boxing exhibition between the two former heavyweight champions produced initial odds that mirror the handicapping confusion.
How do legends from 20 years ago stack up now?
Major sportsbooks in the US have yet to post a line, but several offshores have Tyson around -170 and Jones hovering around +140.
Handicappers wonder what factors to trust with Tyson at age 54 and Jones at 51.
In the co-feature, YouTuber Jake Paul opposes former NBA Slam Dunk king Nate Robinson. The offshores have Paul around -150 vs. Robinson, +120.
While we await more books, let’s look at some of the factors:
- Tyson is still the more natural heavyweight, enough of a puncher to keep Jones cautious and is, in effect, the promoter of the event via his League of Legends that debuts in this fight. Think of what that means to the scoring after close rounds.
- There are no props listed yet, but the over-under in rounds should settle in around 7.5. Jones said if Tyson doesn’t get the knockout early, he’s in trouble. Jones would probably move, tie up and throw strategic punches from strange angles to disrupt Tyson’s timing.
- Tyson in his 20s was relentless. He was indeed the youngest heavyweight champion of all time, 20 years and four months when he toppled Trevor Berbick in 1986. But will he stalk a knockout now? Will this fight involve a few flurries, a lot of moving and each man breathing heavily?
- Another factor for a long fight: gloves will be slightly over-sized and the fighters had to convince the California commission to sanction this event by promising they won’t try to take one another’s heads off. Can you remember the last exhibition that ended in a knockout?
- Jones was stopped a number of times while fighting after his prime and Tyson could catch him, but how hard will he press to do so?
- The big thing here, obviously, is conditioning. Tyson will have to put in a heavy training schedule between now and the fight. Jones looks a little ahead of him right now.
Let’s remember who they are
Jones made the improbable leap from the 160-pound division to the heavyweight championship between 1993-2003. He won the middleweight, super-middleweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles. He was one of the greatest thinking man’s fighters of his era.
Tyson, known as the “Baddest Man on the Planet,” was one of the most intimidating fighters of all time. Tyson literally scared his opponents. His lethal combination of speed and power, coupled with intelligent head movement to work inside, propelled him during his prime.
He showed flashes of old form with a video released during the spring.
Yet last week, Tyson sounded like the last guy who would fight someone.
“I had been 90 pounds overweight, doing cocaine and drinking,” he said, smiling. “Then I changed my whole life. I got married and began working out. I don’t want anybody to think I’m getting rich off this or doing it for the money because I’m not, I’m giving this all to charity. I’m just happy my life is not what it was before.”
Tyson last fought in 2005. Jones appeared as recently as 2018.
“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.”
Robinson looks good at +120.
Yes, history has shown that professional athletes can’t cross over into boxing and beat a real fighter. But Paul is a YouTuber with a one-fight career, knocking out another YouTuber. So it’s an athlete versus a non-athlete. Paul is decidedly younger, but Robinson has a strong athletic background that included time playing top-notch college football at Washington.
And one of his former NBA teammates loves Robinson so much he’s looking for a book. Or an app.
Robinson’s former mate Kendrick Perkins said he’ll bet $1,000 on Robinson and implored others to do the same. That was just minutes after the fight was announced.
Robinson’s NBA Dunk championship skills displayed his agility (leaping over taller players and executing a spinning dunk) and athleticism. He can learn to box enough in the next few weeks. That should be enough to beat a YouTuber with no athletic background – albeit 20 million subscribers.