When Roy Jones Jr. (51) and Mike Tyson (54) step into the ring on November 28th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, fans around the world will feel transported back 30 years.
Back then, Jones and Tyson ruled the boxing world and a duel between the two would have been the fight of the decade. Jones got 47 of his 66 wins by knockout. In addition, the Russian-American boxer became world champion in five different weight classes. In the 50 fights from 1989 to 2003 alone, he celebrated 49 wins with only one defeat.
This came about through a disqualification in the fight against Montell Griffin. In the last round of the fight, dubbed the “Battle of the Undefeated”, the then 28-year-old landed a right-left combination, which Griffin sent to the boards. While Jones was celebrating in his corner, he was disqualified by the referee for an unauthorized strike.
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As WBC world light heavyweight champion with middle and super middleweight titles, Jones, who was at the top of two out of three judges at the time, suffered his first professional defeat and lost his WBC title.
Young Tyson surprises the world
It was also during this period that Tyson attracted attention. He was 20 years and 144 days old when he taught the world to fear on November 22, 1986. The boy from Brooklyn, who had never lost and knocked out 25 of his 27 opponents, only needed two rounds until he also turned off the lights for WBC World Champion Trevor Berbick.
As if unleashed, Tyson attacked Muhammad Ali’s last opponent and quickly became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. In the end, after the last hit of a nightmarish hail, Berbick stumbled through the ring completely disoriented. And the legend Mike Tyson was born.
With victories against James Smith and Tony Tucker, “Iron Mike” added the titles of the WBA and IBF in 1987. At the age of 21 he is the first “Undisputed Heavyweight Champion”, ie the title holder of the three major boxing associations.
His meteoric rise and dominance in the ring earned him comparisons with boxing legends like Muhammad Ali.
Switch to Don King: Tyson’s decline begins
But the child prodigy’s descent soon began. On Valentine’s Day 1989, he and his then-wife Robin Givens declared their divorce – after a public mud fight. Shortly thereafter, Tyson switched to manager Don King, who specifically built up his image as a bad boy.
As a result, he drew attention to himself with sexual harassment, bodily harm, fights and being overweight, and his performance in the ring steadily decreased. On February 11, 1990 he went completely surprising against James Douglas in the tenth round to the ground. The 23 year old lost his WBC title and a lot of respect.
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But it got worse: In 1992 he was found guilty of raping a Miss Black America candidate and sentenced to six years in prison. He did manage to regain the WBC title against Frank Bruno in 1996, but in the following fights against Evander Holyfield he was not only defeated athletically, he also bit off part of his opponent’s ear in the rematch, which is why he was banned again and imprisoned for five months.
Jones jr. with “his hardest blow”
Despite all the scandals, Tyson’s outstanding clout is still fondly remembered. However, Roy Jones Jr. doesn’t have to hide from his opponent in this category. After 16 wins – all by knockout, of course – in his first 16 professional fights, he offered the boxing world one of the most spectacular knock-outs in history against Art Serwano.
In April 1992 he sent his opponent on the boards with a jab and a subsequent right to the temple – after just 100 seconds of fighting time. Jones himself described this knockout as “the hardest blow of my career”. It took his opponent from Uganda several minutes to regain consciousness and leave the ring.
In the years that followed, he raced from title to title and was voted # 1 Pound-for-Pound Boxer of All-Time in 1997. Experts celebrated Jones for his dynamism and technique. In a ranking of the boxers with the fastest hands, the Bleacher Report Jones in first place – ahead of second-placed Mike Tyson.
Jones missed a fitting finish
For many fans, the fact that Jones did not make it to the highest consecration of Boxing Olympus is due to the fact that Jones missed the right time to end his career.
Above all, the switch to heavyweight is said to have paradoxically caused his decline, even if he was the only middleweight boxer to win a heavyweight title.
After his triumph against John Ruiz – described by many as the weakest world champion in the past 50 years – Jones wanted to end his career after a fight against Tyson. Since this meeting was never to come, “Captain Left Hook” missed one opportunity after the other to end his career worthily.
Fight against Tyson as a worthy ending?
When he returned to the light middleweight division, he won the WBC, WBA and IBO belts again against Anotnio Tarver. In the rematch, however, he surprisingly lost to a knockout and should never really get back on his feet after that. He stayed in the ring until 2018 to prove to fans that he was still old Roy Jones Jr.
Perhaps he will now succeed in the fight that he has chased in vain for most of his career. When he finally stands in the ring against Mike Tyson, he may be “Superman RJ” again and prove to the world who he once was: the best pound-for-pound boxer in history.
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