Once a fighter, always a fighter - boxing flows through the veins.
Legendary world champions Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. will soon become the latest in a long line of all-time greats to make high-profile returns to the ring.
The pair will meet in the squared-circle on November 28th for an eight-round pay-per-view ‘exhibition’ clash that has caused pandemonium within boxing circles. Especially for those legions of fans who grew up following these two iconic figures in their prime years.
Decades on from witnessing these two superstars rise to prominence and cement their legacies, passionate followers will once again see their idols do what they’ve done their entire lives; fight.
Fighters that older fans have grown up telling their children about will now be overseen afresh by that same fanbase, accompanied by a younger generation. And while it’s been branded an ‘exhibition’, once these historic sporting figures come face-to-face, there’s no label that can be used to make it any less of an iconic moment.
Tyson was once hailed as the baddest man on the planet. At just 20 years of age he became the youngest world heavyweight champion in the sport’s rich history; a record that still stands today.
Photo: Getty Images - Tyson vs Jones Jr
He reigned as the undisputed division king from 1987 to 1990, striking fear into anyone who dared trade leather with him at the peak of his powers. The New Yorker also rallied to the summit of boxing’s popularity ladder, sealing his position as one of the sport’s most distinguished characters.
Jones Jr. became an Olympic Silver medallist in 1988, before emphatically securing world championships across four weight classes in a glittering professional career. Beginning at middleweight and ending in heavyweight supremacy, he was an athletic freak of nature and one of the most talented boxers of all-time.
But perhaps it’s the waves these icons have made crashing out beyond boxing culture into the fabric of popular culture, that makes the buzz around this clash all the more electric.
In 1990, Tyson overtook Michael Jordan as the highest paid athlete in the world, he has heavily featured on screen in popular TV shows and movies as himself, as well as being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.
Tyson was also a catalyst for mental warfare; introducing the ‘fear factor’ with his ability to win fights before they began. With his plain black trunks and shoes, no socks, rarely a walkout song and simply a towel around his neck, opponents were beaten before they got in the ring through sheer terror.
Throughout the 1990s, Jones Jr. was regarded as virtually untouchable. Cementing himself in unique fashion as an all-time great. His presence and impact were boosted through past-times outside the ring.
He played minor league basketball for two different teams during his career, sometimes on the day of a scheduled fight. Jones also officially released rap music, with his most notable tracks being ‘Y'all Must've Forgot’ and ‘Can’t Be Touched’.
Tyson vs Jones Jr will take place on November 28th
Between them the pair of iconic fighters hold 133 fights, 116 victories, 91 career knockouts and 35 world title fight triumphs.
There’s another notable number involved ahead of this blockbuster showdown. When the two men climb into the ring to face-off, they will have a combined age of 105. Both are now over 50.
‘Iron Mike’s’ last career win came in February 2003, before retiring two years later. Jones Jr.’s most-recent victory was over Scott Sigmon in February 2018, eight years on from his rematch loss to long-standing rival Bernard Hopkins.
The announcement of such an unexpected match-up has brought forward every possible range of emotions from those who passionately follow the sport. Disbelief. Excitement. Curiosity. Worry. But, ultimately, no matter the end result or anyone’s opinion of the clash of legends, this will be a boxing spectacle once the anticipation is ended by the opening bell.
Boxing is a compelling sport. For those who dedicate their entire lives to it, it becomes their everything. When a fighter retires, their competitive instinct still remains within them; burning away inside, waiting on a chance to be unleashed.
For Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., that opportunity arrives on November 28th. When two legends take centre stage on a monumental night for boxing culture.