The 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. has not fought in a professional boxing match since scoring a unanimous decision win against Scott Sigmon in 2018.
For all intents and purposes, the former pound-for-pound king of the 20th century had finally decided to call it a career.
His next most significant boxing achievement was supposed to be voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a first-ballot inductee in 2021 when the new candidates were released.
The four-division champion still has other ideas, however.
On Nov. 28, Jones Jr. (66-9, 47 KOs) will take on Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in an eight-round exhibition PPV match in which they’re maintaining is a “real fight.”
“I thought I was done. When I got the call from my team saying ‘Mike Tyson wants to fight you’ — that’s bucket-list material,” Jones said. “Everywhere I go in life, people ask me ‘Hey, did you ever fight Mike Tyson?’ Now I don’t have to say ‘No’ no more. I’m so glad to get this opportunity because now I can say, ‘Yes, I did. I sure did.’ And guess what? Tune in on the 28th, and you’ll see how it goes.”
The matchup 20 years in the making will unfold with two-minute rounds and be fought with 12-ounce gloves and no head hear. Jones Jr. said he’s training for his return to pugilism from his ranch in Pensacola, Florida.
“Going into the ring with one of the most dangerous men to ever grace the boxing ring. One of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history, the youngest heavyweight champion of all time. Are you going to not prepare? Are you crazy? You should prepare just as hard as the last time you went in the ring,” he said.
Tyson has teased social media by releasing a series of explosive workout clips that have caught the attention of millions and his opponent alike.
“I think he looks awesome. He looks very good,” said Jones Jr. “To see Mike be able to hit the pads and the body bag the way he’s doing it, it’s phenomenal. It’s crazy. But we’re freaks. That’s why this is such a big thing. We’re two of the most explosive guys to ever touch a boxing ring. At 54, I want to watch him beat the mitts and bag more than any guy right now because it’s so exciting. … He inspires me by how hard he’s preparing to get back in the ring.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.