The biggest fight event this weekend won’t be happening anywhere near a UFC cage. While the promotion has a card on offer, headlined by a top-ranked heavyweight bout between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes, the undeniable star attraction this Saturday will go down at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
That’s where former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson will take on former undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. It’s the kind of dream matchup that, had the two men fought 20 years ago, would have absolutely set the sporting world on fire. In 2020, however – and with both men pushing the wrong side of 50 – it’s got more the air of carnival sideshow than top-flight athletic spectacle.
Just to make sure that people don’t get the wrong idea about what’s being set in front of them, California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster has been making the rounds with media outlets to let fans know this is just an “exhibition.”
“We wanted to make sure that they both understood that it was a sanctioned exhibition fight,” Foster told BoxingScene.com. “They can move around and make some money,” said Foster. “We’re glad to have it. All of our rules are going to be followed. It’s going to look like a boxing match. Exhibitions like this happen sometimes. They can move around and make some money. I told them, ‘you get cut, it’s over.’ We’ll be reasonable. [Referee] Ray [Corona] won’t let people get hurt. He understands what an exhibition is. It’s not a fight-fight.”
MMA Fighting recently got a complete rundown of all the official rules and regulations for the bout:
- The bout will include eight, two-minute rounds.
- Both fighters will wear standard 12oz gloves.
- Headgear will not be required.
- The bout will be waved off in the event either fighter suffers a bad cut.
- Both fighters have agreed to and undergone comprehensive medicals & VADA testing.
- There will be no official judges, and the bout will not be scored on the 10-point must system (there will be celebrity judges providing scores remotely).
- No official bout winner will be declared.
- Both fighters will be awarded a WBC “Frontline Heavyweight Title” after the bout.
Technically, because of its exhibition nature, and the lack of any judging to declare a winner (except by a heavily discouraged knockout), oddsmakers aren’t supposed to be setting lines for Tyson vs. Jones Jr. However, some sports books still have odds on, and are taking bets for, the outcome of the fight. Notably, Bovada has Tyson at -200 and RJJ currently sitting at +160 to win, along with a number of prop bets.
The whole process has left UFC President Dana White a little confused. Speaking recently to the press following UFC 255, White chimed in with his thoughts about the upcoming exhibition fight, mostly wondering how they could hope to keep Tyson and RJJ from going for the kill.
“It’s such a tough one to call,” White said when asked for his prediction (transcript via MMA Fighting). “When’s the last time we saw either one of them fight?
“They’re not allowed to knock each other out? How do you enforce that? I’d like to bet that doesn’t happen. Can you bet on that?”
“You can’t even bet on this fight? I did not know that,” White responded when told that technically, wagering wasn’t supposed to be taking place for the fight. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”
While it seems almost impossible to stop people from gambling on the fight, Foster did give at least some explanation of just how he hopes to keep the action of the bout at a simmer, rather than letting it boil over into an all-out war. Mostly it all comes down to good reffing.
“I’m sure there are going to be times where it heats up,” Foster admitted. “Ray’s job is going to be to put the ice back on without having to kill the whole thing. He’s that kind of referee. I feel that he’s going to be good at that, and he’s the right guy for this kind of a fight.”
‘Iron’ Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. takes place this Saturday, November 28th in Los Angeles, CA. The PPV exhibition bout can be ordered for $49.95 through Fite.tv. Alongside the headlining bout, the card will also feature the boxing debut of former NBA player Nate Robinson, who takes on YouTube star Jake Paul in the co-main event. Former UFC fighter Rashad Coulter will face 4-0 cruiserweight Viddal Riley in the night’s opening contest.