I’ve made no bones about this; I’m not going to watch this “exhibition” and I wouldn’t watch it if it were free. My small protest against a fight that I don’t think should take place, never mind have awarded the “Legends” belt, or whatever it’s being called, to the winner. (An aside here; if it is an “exhibition” as billed, how can there be a “winner” of this belt?)
All of that having been said, I do understand the attraction of watching these two legendary fighters go at it in any format. The matchup is important to boxing and here’s why.
If Tyson can actually look good and show that he still has that ferocity and power, then there’s a good chance that he will get a real fight against a mid-range contender. This in of itself, would help bolster the knock against modern boxing – namely, that it is but a shadow of the sport that we once knew and its modern participants are deserving of the derision that they are often subject to. That a man closer to 60 than 40 could still be a factor, would speak volumes about the state of the game today.
Similarly, if Jones is able to turn back the clock and display some of his preter-natural athletic ability that led him to be one of boxing’s all-time greats, his fortunes going forward would be similar. A fight against a current contender would undoubtedly be lined up and he would have the opportunity to expose modern boxing for what so many of we purists believe it to be – a sham by comparison to what we had in the “golden age” of our sport. Of course, I think that for Jones, his chances would improve vastly in a lower weight division.
On the other hand, if Jones and Tyson look like what most of us anticipate they will look like, skilled, but too old and too slow to be anything other than a sideshow, then modern boxing will reap a reward. The 2020 crop of boxers, I suspect, will see their collective stock appreciate in value as we realize that they are indeed much better than they have been given credit for. If it becomes obvious that Tyson and Jones would be little more than cannon fodder for the likes of Fury and AJ, then I think some of the negative assumptions of these two, plus other contenders, will abate.
Yet another benefit to Tyson and Jones not looking great, is that it might out an end to the seemingly endless string of comebacks that are being ballyhooed on various social media platforms. After all, I don’t want Triple G up on murder charges for what he would likely do to Oscar De La Hoya. And NO fighter over 50 in any of Mayweather’s divisions would have any business stepping into the ring with him.
Boxing is entertainment, to be sure. But it’s different entertainment from most others in that it derives its entertainment value from fans living vicariously through two participants actively trying to harm each other. Yes, many other sports such as American football and car racing are dangerous as well, but the very important difference is that they do not have as their goal, harming opponents. Jones and Tyson are indisputably brave men; perhaps too brave. And the blood-lust of fans cannot be measured. So perhaps we need to protect these men and other ex-fighters contemplating comebacks, from themselves. I wish no harm to Mike or Roy, but I do hope that at the end of this bout, they, and the Oscar’s of this world, will come to the conclusion that their time in the ring has passed. Time to make way for the young Lions.