LOS ANGELES – Mike Tyson stepped onto a spotlighted stage Friday and weighed in at 220 pounds, ripping off his shirt to reveal a muscled torso that could belong to an athlete of half his 54 years.
The former heavyweight champion moved into a COVID-protective glass box and went nose-to-nose with Roy Jones Jr., once the most talented fighter in the world. Jones' 210-pound frame was slightly less toned, but still clearly in better condition than most of his fellow 51-year-olds.
These two boxing greats are older, calmer men now, but they're returning to the ring Saturday night intending to recapture a moment of their brilliant past — and they've both worked very hard to make sure they won't be embarrassed in this extraordinary boxing exhibition.
“This is the fun part,” said Tyson, who will fight for the first time in 15 years. “Everything else to get here was hell.”
Their fight at Staples Center is an eight-round sparring session of sorts. It will have two-minute rounds, no official judging and limited violence, although the limit depends on whether you're asking the California State Athletic Commission or the fighters, who both intend to let their hands go.
“Maybe I don’t know how to go easy,” Tyson said. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want the commission mad at me."
But for Tyson and Jones, this unique pay-per-view show is less of a sporting event and more of a chance for two transcendent athletes to prove age is a number — and aging is a choice.
“I don’t look at life as age,” Tyson said. “I look at life as energy. You don’t bring your age to the table. You bring your energy to the table. You don’t go meet people: ‘Hey, I’m Bob. I’m 59.’ You don’t do that."