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How the boxing world’s reacted to Mike Tyson’s comeback exhibition with Roy Jones Jr

The circus is coming to town and it’s headline attraction is a fight between two former greats in their 50s.

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr are still a big deal in the boxing world and their fight has got people conflicted over whether it’s something they’d want to watch and whether or not it should be happening all together. 

In their primes, Jones Jr and Tyson were special fighters who transcended the sport. They both left legacies that will live forever but the lure of the ring has brought them back for one last dance.

Anthony Joshua, who followed in both of their footsteps by becoming world heavyweight champion, hopes that is all it will be.

‘It’s a bit like an old-time footballer doing a crossbar challenge!’ Joshua said about Jones and Tyson’s eight-round exhibition fight next month.

‘Tyson hitting pads with ferocious behaviour is second nature to him. But to someone watching from home? It’s like he’s going to rule the heavyweight division,’ he told Sky Sports.

‘It’s a passion they both love. It’s all they know. They haven’t got to compete with the young lions of the division though. We’re bigger and stronger.’

But parts of the boxing world are excited to see the two legends face off and have taken up front-row seats for it. 

Here, Sportsmail looks at how big names in the fighting industry have reacted to Tyson and Jones’s comeback fight.

Foreman was speaking from experience when he warned Tyson and Jones of the dangers of returning to the ring as a man much closer to the age of a senior citizen than his 30s or 20s.

Foreman, who remains the oldest heavyweight champion ever, knows the lure of the ring can be a hard one to resist, having made several comebacks himself during his career.

He eventually retired for good at 48 after his wife convinced him he’d end up living in the mobile home outside if he ever stepped foot in a ring again. And so he fears that Tyson 54, and Jones 51, may be making a mistake by fighting again.  

‘There’s a time when you have to worry about your health, but it’s a beautiful thing that they would even come out,’ Foreman said.

‘Maybe they can even name a charity or something for the recipient of the funds. I think it’s good to come out but it’s got to be a fun thing, but I hope one does not hit the other.

‘I would just tell them it’s really dangerous but when you make up your mind to do something like that, you can’t tell them “don’t do it.”‘

When Holyfield gave his reaction there was a sense of bitterness in his remarks.

Holyfield had been training hard and was the expected opponent for Tyson’s comeback only to be shelved for another day.

He hopes they can fight for charity after this one but is expecting Tyson to ‘stink the place out,’ and dry up any appetite for their clash.  

‘Mike may have wanted another exhibition before fighting me. By him doing this, it may mess up a future one [against me],’ Holyfield said.

‘We’d talked about it, but there was nothing solid on paper. We knew we wanted to do it first.

‘When you do it second, people are going to judge how the first one is.

‘Fans may not want to see it again once you stink up the place. It comes down to, “does he really want to fight me?” Everybody wants to see me and him do it, so what is he doing?’

Former world heavyweight champion Haye assessed this fight as he would do any other.

There’s just one thing: This isn’t supposed to be a proper fight, is it?

It’s being sold as an ‘exhibition’ and the California State Athletic Commission have told both fighters that no one ‘should be trying to go for the knockout’.

So talking about Tyson’s power and Jones’ skills all feels a little futile. Nonetheless Haye has talked up this fight as if it actually matters.

‘If Roy Jones doesn’t get caught with one of Tyson’s bombs in the first two rounds, with his superior skills – in terms of timing, speed and agility – I think he could pull away with it,’ he said.

‘But if it turns into a slugfest early and Roy Jones gets caught with just one of Mike Tyson’s crazy combinations that we’ve seen him doing on the pads recently – it could be very dangerous. It could be game over.

‘Because Tyson is much naturally bigger. Roy Jones in his prime was probably 12 stone (168lb). Mike Tyson? About 15-and-half stone – a big difference. He’s not taller but he’s thicker set; he’s just a much bigger animal.’

There is a history between Atlas and Tyson.

Along with Cus D’Amato, Atlas helped mould Tyson into the fighter that eventually became the most feared man on the planet.

He worked with Tyson in the early days of his boxing career but their time together came to a sudden and acrimonious halt when Atlas held up a gun to Tyson’s ear following allegations regarding his niece. 

The two have buried the hatchet now but it is no surprise to learn that Atlas has had some pretty big opinions on his comeback against Jones. 

‘A sucker is born every minute,’ Atlas began. ‘They can sell this thing on PPV and I guess they can because they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t. Listen, there’s a reason why the Marvel comic movies keep coming back and they keep doing well.

‘People love to see Tyson because they think they are going to see something super natural like the Hulk come back or like Spiderman against Dr Octopus. There’s an attraction to that. And there’s the same kind of thinking to this.

‘We are talking about practise really not the real game. It’s a senior tour. The thing about Jones Jr, he was so special but his technique isn’t quite there anymore and his reflexes have gone so there’s nothing that can cover for him. If this thing gets real and they really go at it, Tyson should knock him out.’

Hearn has promoted a whole event in his back garden and a fight between two YouTubers but didn’t want to touch this with a bargepole. 

What does that say? After Tyson appeared to ignore the Athletic State Commission’s views on knockouts by saying: ‘I’m always looking for one. Hurting people is what I do,’ Hearn is fearing for the worst.

‘The Commission has said they can’t do it [go for a knockout]. Can you imagine? Tyson comes out and goes for it and the commissioner [waves] if off. That’s an absolute disaster,’ the Matchroom promoter said.

‘I’m never comfortable with an exhibition bout? Because what are you getting, what are you actually paying for? This shouldn’t happen, but I’d rather they went at it hammer and tong. I’d buy that. I don’t think it’s ethically right or good for boxing but I would probably buy that. I don’t think you’re going to buy an exhibition.

‘What are they going to do? Mess around after a round or do an interview mid-round? Sky got approached [to air the event]. They spoke to me about it. I’m not saying they won’t take it. You could be a round or two in going “Oh my God, what is this?” I would rather they went in and tried to take each other’s head off. Like I said, ethically, that wouldn’t be right either but I’d prefer that.’

Mayweather is partial to a crazy idea once in a while if it’s something that will sell well. 

There was the crossover fight with Conor McGregor and then that exhibition fight with a Japanese MMA fighter which lasted all of about two seconds.

Mayweather made countless millions from both. Tyson and Jones are expected to get a good pay day from this and so Mayweather is into it, even if it’s not bulging his bank balance. 

‘First off, I think we are forgetting who made exhibitions big,’ Mayweather said referring to himself.

‘I mean, I think it’s going to be very interesting, you know? I’m not here to say Tyson’s going to win, I’m not here to say Roy’s going to win.

‘And I’m pretty sure it’s going to be entertaining. I’m pretty sure I’m going to watch it, absolutely.

‘I don’t think I can go because I don’t think there’s going to be an audience at that particular time, but may the best man win.’

Maccarinelli has mixed it with Jones before.

He knocked him out in 2015 and doesn’t expect his former foe or Tyson to take this fight lightly, even if it is being billed as an exhibition.  

‘I’m telling you now, it won’t be friendly,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘I see this turning into a bit more than an exhibition. It will be competitive.

‘They are both big punchers, they can both crack, how do they not go for a KO? You could pull back 50 per cent of your punch – which is not going to happen.

‘When they are in the ring, they will want to prove a point.

‘When they face each other, no one will want to walk out as the loser. They want to prove a point to each other and to themselves.’

The British middleweight said he never would’ve envisioned playing a part in a fight between two boxers he used to idolise.

Eubank teamed up with Jones earlier this year with a plan to begin his assault on the middleweight division under his tutelage, but now the roles have reversed.

Instead, it is Eubank helping Jones prepare for a fight, and you sense he’s just glad to be a part of it all.

‘I’ve got a front-row view into what Roy is doing to prepare for Mike and I’m helping him,’ he said this week.

‘This is something that I never dreamed in a million years I would be doing, helping Roy Jones to fight Mike Tyson.

‘How are we here, how has this happened? But yeah, it really is happening.

‘I’m actually going to Pittsburg with him in a couple days and we’re going to do some training out there.

‘Mike Tyson and Roy Jones are two of my favourite fighters of all time. I never ever thought I would be watching a fight and rooting against Mike Tyson.’

UFC chief White has backtracked on how he feels about Tyson’s comeback.

Initially, he begged him not to fight again, even if it was going to be an exhibition.

But now he is all for it.

Speaking about the fight with Jones Jr, he said: ‘I’m excited for [Tyson].

‘He says he’s got that fire, he wants to fight, he wants this, Jones wants it, they’re grown men – I’m 100 per cent supportive.

‘I’m probably going to fly out next week to watch Tyson train.’

‘My kids think I should sit my old a** down,’ Tyson revealed on The Jimmy Fallon Show.

‘But what do they know? I’m very confident.

‘They don’t know how to fight, neither one of my kids can beat me in a fight, so what are they talking about?’

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