Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. tale of the tape: How the two legends stack up ahead of the exhibition match


Only in 2020 could an exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., both in their 50s, dominate holiday season sports headlines. The two men will meet in the main event of a pay-per-view Saturday night from Los Angeles’ Staples Center (9 p.m. ET, PPV).

The card also features a bout between YouTube influencer Jake Paul and former multi-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson. It truly is the kind of event that feels like the only possible finish to such a bizarre year.

There are seemingly endless questions about how the fight will play out. The California State Athletic Commission is overseeing the fight and has placed incredible pressure on referee Ray Corona to enforce their rules to limit the fight to “hard sparring” with neither fighter allowed to look for a knockout, while still allowing the fighters to showcase their skills and deliver an entertaining bout.

Add to the confusion over the rules and how they’ll impact the fight that no one truly knows what Tyson or Jones can do in a competitive bout at 54 and 51 years old, respectively, and it’s hard to even begin to guess how the fight will look when the men step in the ring.

What we can do, however, is speak to the past careers of both fighters and break down the things we do know.

Tale of the tape

Nickname

Iron Mike

Captain Hook

Pro record

50-6, 44 KO

66-9, 47 KO

Past titles

WBC (x2), WBA (x2), IBF heavyweight

IBF middleweight – IBF super middleweight – WBA, WBC, IBF light heavyweight – WBA heavyweight

Age

54

51

Height

5-foot-10

5-foot-11

Reach

71 inches

74 inches

Stance

Orthodox

Orthodox

Hometown

Brooklyn, New York

Pensacola, Florida

Best wins

Trevor Berbick TKO2 (1986), Tony Tucker UD (1987), Larry Holmes TKO 4 (1988), Michael Spinks KO1 (1988) Frank Bruno TKO5, KO5 (1989, 1996)

Bernard Hopkins UD (1993), James Toney UD (1994), Montell Griffin KO1 (1997), John Ruiz UD (2003), Antonio Tarver MD (2003)

Notable losses

Buster Douglas KO10 (1990), Evander Holyfield TKO11, DQ3 (1996, 1997), Lennox Lewis KO8 (2002)

Montell Griffin DQ9 (1997), Antonio Tarver TKO2, UD (2004, 2005), Glen Johnson KO9 (2004), Joe Calzaghe UD (2008), Bernard Hopkins UD (2010)

Days since last pro fight

5649

1024

Who has the edge?

Power: There’s no doubt that the power edge goes to Tyson. In his prime, Tyson was one of the most feared punchers in the history of the sport. Looking at training footage put out by the Tyson camp in recent months and he still seems to have it. Jones was a fearsome puncher in his own right — his rib-breaking body shot against Virgil Hill remains an all-time great knockout — but nobody hits quite like Mike. Edge: Tyson

Speed: Tyson’s speed was as much a part of his success as his power and is often overlooked as being an incredible asset throughout his career. That said, in his prime, Jones was one of the most incredible fighters in history in pure hand speed. He was able to switch from a taunt to a punch or string punches together with such quickness that it left legitimate high-end opponents often looking silly. Edge: Jones

Technique: This is another category where Tyson is often overlooked. His technique set up his power, allowing him to get into position to throw perfect power punches. But, again, Jones was one of the greatest boxers in history with a combination of power, speed, defense and technique. Edge: Jones

Defense: Speaking purely in terms of the men in their primes, Jones would have the edge with ease. He was, at times, completely untouchable in the ring. But the late years of Jones’ career saw his reflexes slow and his inability to change his style lead to brutal knockout losses alongside one-sided decision defeats. The expectation should be that Tyson’s defensive style is a better fit for a clash of 50-year-olds than Jones’. Edge: Tyson

Intangibles: Jones’ chin more or less went away at the hands of Antonio Tarver and never came back. Tyson’s decline was more mental than physical — though the mental did impact the physical. Tyson has been out of the ring far longer than Jones, and being the larger man, it’s possible he isn’t as physically ready for the strain of a fight, even an eight-round bout with two-minute rounds. While men like Scott Sigmon, Bobby Gunn and Rodney Moore aren’t meaningful opponents in the big picture of Jones’ career, it shows Jones was active and in relative fighting shape up until 2018 taking those kinds of fights, meaning he’s closer to having the mentality of a fighter and to having felt the pressure of stepping in the ring than Tyson. The intangibles seem to be a push. Edge: Neither





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