By: Sean Crose
So much for boxing being dead.
Mike Tyson, a fighter in his fifties, who hadn’t fought in a decade and a half, stepped back into the ring last weekend to face Roy Jones, another fighter in his fifties, in an exhibition match. To the surprise of many, the bout, along with the entire fight card, was pretty entertaining. To the even greater surprise of many, the entire even brought in over 1 million pay per view buys – 1.2 million, in fact, according to the Daily News. To reach a million buys for a pay per view card is huge news for any combat sporting event, for a fight featuring two well past their prime former greats, it’s absolutely stunning.
Boxing has to go back to the Canelo-Golovkin middleweight title matches of a few years back in order to bask in a million buy pay per view event. Even last winter’s huge Deontay Wilder – Tyson Fury heavyweight title rematch didn’t clear a million buys. In fact, aside from a high-level UFC fight featuring the very popular Jorge Masvidal a few months back, there hasn’t been a pay per view success of Saturday’s caliber in a while. Perhaps what they say is true – everything old is new again.
Yet Tyson is working off a different image than the one he had during his professional era. He’s no longer the menacing tiger, ready to lash out at any random moment. Now Tyson is the gray bearded, left of center, pot smoking celebrity who can still impress with his intelligence and unique observations. Oh, and he’s a fifty-something one wouldn’t want to mess with. Although he clearly looked past his prime when he faced Jones (as did Jones himself), Tyson looked in amazing shape for a man less than a decade shy of sixty.
Naturally, people are now asking what this all means for boxing. It looks like a third fight with Evander Holyfield – he of the famous ear incident – may be on the horizon for Tyson. What’s more, the fighter known as Iron Mike has made it clear he intends to fight again. But where does this leave the fighters of the contemporary boxing scene? The truth is, it leaves these individuals with the awareness that you have to entice the public like Mike Tyson to get the viewership of Mike Tyson. It also shows that big fights generate big interest. It’s easy to forget that, in his prime, Jones may well have been a better fighter than Tyson was.