MIKE TYSON and Roy Jones seem to have come through their exhibition unscathed. That is a relief. Boxing is no sport for old men. It is dangerous, people do get hurt and the older participants get the greater the risks become. There is a reason the age limit in amateur boxing is capped at 40 years old. Tyson is 54, his fighting career is long in the past and, while he did get in some condition for this event, he’s hardly had the healthiest lifestyle in retirement. Roy Jones, 51, retired much more recently from competition but he suffered too many punishing knockouts in his career for comfort. This was a spectacle and it generated interest but it’s not reassuring to see either man shipping punches.
It was disquieting too that only a few days ahead of their exhibition the California State Athletic Commission, which had accepted some role in safeguarding this event, was seemingly at odds with the show’s organisers over whether knockouts were allowed, whether there would be a winner. Having the WBC involve themselves in this weird mix to provide judges, albeit former champions, lent the event an element of legitimacy, clouding whether the participants were meant to be fighting or going through the motions of an exhibition.
To screen it all as a pay-per-view, when the actual nature of this show was unclear (was it a performance? An exhibition? Were they actually going to be fighting?), was just another ingredient in a potentially toxic brew.
At least it was limited to eight two minute rounds and 12 ounce gloves, and they were both in the same age bracket. It would have been far worse to have seen one of them going in with a younger man. So the worst didn’t happen, and Snoop Dogg as a commentator certainly brought out the ridiculousness of the occasion. But things can always get worse. It’s all fun until someone gets hurt. If this event is deemed a success, and the level of interest in it suggests it would have been commercially successful, then they’ll be tempted to do it again. And again. More legends will be tempted to join in the carnival. But sooner or later, I’m afraid, the ride will have to stop.