Tyson & Jones

Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr.: Fight predictions, expert picks, undercard, start time for exhibition match

The meeting of men in their 50s is set to commence on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. will lace 'em up once again when they square off in the main event of a PPV card from the Staples Center.


Though the fight has been deemed an exhibition by the state commission, Tyson, Jones and the promoters of the bout have said both are going in with the intentions of brawling.

It all started because of a question, an idea from his brother-in-law and an appearance by a Hollywood executive on his podcast, recorded earlier this year.

To fully understand how and why Mike Tyson is getting back in the ring Saturday for the first time in 14 years — in an exhibition against Roy Jones Jr. — start there.

Tyson said that back in March, Azheem Spicer, the brother of Tyson’s wife, Lakiha, approached him with an idea. Spicer knew Tyson didn’t want to fight at the time, but would he entertain a bout against mixed martial artist Bob Sapp? The idea piqued Tyson’s interest.

“I said, ‘How would he want to fight me?’ I was in good, decent shape. I looked well. I wasn’t in shape, but I looked like it because I was working out a little,” Tyson told ESPN. “He said he’ll box you Marquess of Queensberry, and so I said, ‘I’ll do it.'”
The fight with Sapp fell through. Then, Tyson said, other fights fell through, too. Around that time, Tyson had Sophie Watts, a longtime boxing fan and former president of STX Entertainment, on his podcast. Watts asked Tyson if there is any sort of sports league for icons who are larger than their particular sports.

Tyson told her that nothing like that existed, but that it was an idea he had in the past, that he’d like to do it and that he’d like to start it with a fight featuring him. The idea became the Legends Only League, and Tyson-Jones Jr. is the first event.

“You surpassed your sport into being a global icon, and it’s our belief that audiences — not just sports fans but audiences united — really want to engage with those icons and understand the story that made them a legend,” Watts said. “Mike is a legendary, legendary boxer, but he’s also a legendary figure in lots of different ways.”

They still needed to find Tyson someone to fight.

The idea of Jones Jr. came up in the spring. Tyson said he thinks it was Spicer who made the connection again, and the fight was agreed upon. Tyson said the two had discussed fighting in the early 2000s before Jones Jr. fought John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title, but it never happened.

Now, in a different way, it will.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s so awesome,'” Tyson said. “It’s always something I wanted to do, but it never happened. We both wanted to do it.”

While the commission does have the final say over things — and has described the showdown as “hard sparring” — there’s a lot of unknowns heading into the matchup. The only U.S. sportsbook offering odds on the bout is DraftKings, which became an official partner of the event earlier in the week. But how can one handicap this matchup with so many unknown variables? Our writers took a shot at predicting what we could see happen on Saturday night in the main event below.

Tyson vs. Jones predictions

Brian Campbell:

Tyson will likely have one-punch knockout power until the day he dies, which makes “Iron Mike” still a very dangerous challenge for anyone in the opening rounds. But Jones, who should enjoy a legitimate speed advantage, is very much the fresher fighter of the two having stayed active as a professional through 2018 after closing his career on a 12-1 run. Jones has also been operating at cruiserweight in recent years, which means the size disadvantage against an already small heavyweight in Tyson won’t be as much of a concern. Provided Jones can survive the early storm, expect him to pick Tyson apart with relative ease as the fight rolls on.

Brent Brookhouse:

Predicting a fight like this is an exercise in guesswork. What does a 54-year-old Tyson have at this point? Jones has the edge in being “fresher” off his pro career, but his chin is long gone in being able to take clean power shots from hard punchers, and Tyson is still a power puncher if nothing else. But nobody seems to fully understand the rules of the fight. The commission says it’s hard sparring and they’ll stop anything beyond that, but the promoters and fighters say it’s 100% a “real fight.” If they can’t actually try to hurt each other, as the commission has said, that would make it a fairly easy fight for Jones as he can use his speed and just pop off easy jabs and combinations and let his speed carry the fight. If they can let their punches fly at full speed and Jones plays around on the ropes like he has a tendency to do, maybe Tyson catches him clean and finishes it off. There’s way too many unknowns here to make any sort of meaningful prediction, but the edge would seem to lie with Jones heading into Saturday.

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