Boxing fans have claimed that heavyweight icon, Mike Tyson was “robbed” of victory after his exhibition comeback fight against fellow icon Roy Jones Jr was declared a draw.
Ring veterans Tyson and Jones Jr fought across eight-two minute rounds in an entertaining if predictably slow-paced contest at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Stepping between the ropes to fight for the first time since 2005, 54-year-old former heavyweight world champion Tyson looked to be the sharper of the pair as he showed his trademark head movement and glimpses of his former power as he landed some smart shots on his 51-year-old rival without ever looking like having Jones Jr in trouble.
Former four-weight world champion Jones Jr appeared more content to do his work from the outside, utilizing his jab and stifling any Tyson attacks when his rival pressed forward.
The bout was characterized by large spells spent in the clinch as both men – perhaps unsurprisingly given their combined age of more than a century – sought the chance to catch their breath when they could.
When the contest was over no winner was declared in the ring – in keeping with rules of the contest outlined by the California State Athletic Commission – but an outside panel of judges assembled by the WBC declared the bout a draw.
Tyson and Jones Jr both received specially-commissioned WBC ‘Frontline Championship’ belts for their exertions – but some fans were left distinctly unimpressed with the result, claiming Tyson had been the clear winner.
One unhappy observer claimed that they were “done” with “corrupt” boxing, while others raged at the supposed injustice against Tyson.
The stats showed that Jones Jr had thrown more punches across the eight truncated rounds, but that Tyson had landed far more.
Combat sports pundit Ariel Helwani, who had hosted the main pre-fight press conference between the pair for broadcaster Triller, said he felt Tyson had done enough to be declared the winner.
ESPN pundit Dan Rafael concurred, saying the decision from one of the three judges, Vinny Paz, to score the fight in Jones Jr’s favour was “pure insanity.”
After the contest, Tyson and Jones Jr hinted that the comeback may not be a one-off for either man.
“I understand why they say some things are ‘bucket list’ because when he hits you, if it’s his head, his punches, his body shots, it don’t matter. Everything hurts,” said Jones Jr, who also holds Russian citizenship and fought the last of his 75 professional bouts as recently as 2018.
“For me I thought I did enough boxing on the outside to edge it out, but I’m cool with the draw. It means we just might have to do it again, but I don’t know,” he added.
Tyson echoed those sentiments, saying: “I’m used to doing it for three minutes, sometimes like two minutes or three minutes.
“I hope to go further, absolutely, and he can be on the card as well.
“I was very happy to be here, despite what everyone says I was happy to go to eight rounds.”
Jones Jr’s Russian manager had suggested before the fight that the pair could even run it back in a mega-bout on Moscow’s Red Square.
In the meantime, the majority of fans will likely be happy that both emerged from Saturday night with their health still intact.