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Sport Mike Tyson returns to boxing at 54 looking and sounding different

17:56  26 november  2020
17:56  26 november  2020 Source:   mmajunkie.com

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Mike Tyson was in the passenger seat of a black Cadillac Escalade one recent morning, making the 45-mile drive from his home in Southern California to Tyson Ranch, a cannabis company he founded a few years ago. At 54 , Mike Tyson is getting back in the ring. USA TODAY SPORTS See more videos.

Mike Tyson is set to fight Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition match Saturday, his first fight in more than 15 years. \ Today at 3:00 PM www.usatoday.com. 0 208 0 0 0.

Mike Tyson standing in a room © Provided by MMAJunkie

(Editor’s note: This story originally published over at USA TODAY Sports.)

Mike Tyson was in the passenger seat of a black Cadillac Escalade one recent morning, making the 45-mile drive from his home in Southern California to Tyson Ranch, a cannabis company he founded a few years ago.

“I could always use a buck like everybody else can,’’ Tyson told USA TODAY Sports during a phone interview. “This is so much bigger than that.’’

What this is: Tyson, the erstwhile “Baddest Man On The Planet,” getting back into the boxing ring at the age of 54.

He is scheduled to fight Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition match Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles — more than 15 years after Tyson’s last, inglorious fight. On June 11, 2005, he quit before the start of the seventh round against journeyman Kevin McBride.

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Boxing legend Mike Tyson , 54 , announced on Thursday that he will be climbing back into the ring for an exhibition bout against another all-time great Tyson teased a return to the ring in early May when he posted videos of himself training, looking just as quick and ferocious as he did in his prime.

Tyson has discussed a return for charity fights, including being tied to a potential fight with Evander Holyfield. After talk earlier in the year that he planned to step back in the boxing ring, Mike Tyson is showing off his speed and power in another training video.

“My last fight, I didn’t want nothing to do with that stuff,’’ Tyson said. “I have so much more desire than my last fight.”

So what is fueling Tyson’s desire now?

“I look at it like I’ve got to test myself,’’ Tyson said. “Isn’t that weird? Why do I have to test myself and constantly push myself?”

Or is it that Tyson, who after the loss to McBride said, “I’m just fighting to pay my bills,” still needs a buck after making an estimated $685 million in his career?

But there may be a deeper meaning than money, according to Tyson.

“Why am I who I am, and why do I react the way that I do?’’ he asked. “Why do I think? Why am I on the phone with you saying what I’m saying right now? What is causing me to say that? What’s causing me to breathe? What’s causing me to want to survive?’’

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Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson will be getting back in the ring this fall to take on Roy Jones Jr. in what Rumors of Tyson ’s comeback have been circulating for months after the 54 -year-old posted several videos to his social media showcasing his legendary speed and skill set.

Sports Pulse: Tyson is returning to the ring to face Roy Jones Jr.

Tyson explained he is “doing research on myself’’ in his search for answers in a life full of whys.

Like, why did Tyson, who has struggled with addiction for more than two decades, stop using cocaine less than three years ago?

“I don’t use the word amazing too much, but it was really something,’’ he said. “No cocaine, no marijuana, nothing.”

And why, after Tyson had a boxing ring built at Tyson Ranch, did he often work out three times a day, up to six days a week, during a sixth-month period leading up to his fight Saturday night?

In part, Tyson suggested, because the intense training has given him a high he can’t get from cocaine, marijuana or any other drug. But he is not doing this for free.

How the fight came together

  Mike Tyson returns to boxing at 54 looking and sounding different © Provided by MMAJunkie

Mike Tyson. (Photo courtesy of Andre Ortiz)

Azim Spicer, Tyson’s brother-in-law and business partner, said he got a call this spring from Bob Sapp, a 6-5, 329-pound fighter best known as a kickboxer and MMA fighter.

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Mike Tyson attends a celebrity golf tournament in California last August. And then there's the fact that Mike Tyson is 54 now. But the former undisputed heavyweight champ is returning to the ring 2. Every ad-blocker is a bit different , but look for an option like disable, whitelist, or trust and click it.

Mike Tyson is getting closer to a return to fighting — and it may not just be boxing . The former heavyweight champion is expected to be offered a contract by Mike Tyson nears boxing return as another million opportunity emerges.

Sapp said he wanted to fight Tyson in an exhibition match and that Tyson would be guaranteed a multimillion-dollar payday, according to Spicer.

“At first I just thought he was nuts and didn’t really take it too seriously,’’ Spicer said. “But these guys kept calling and calling me with some other guys overseas. Had a lot of money and just a bunch of money on the table, and so I reached out to Mike.

“I thought I had to tell him at this point, because if it was me and that money was available, honestly I would want to know regardless of what I had to do for it. So I told Mike, and Mike said, ‘I’m not fighting again.’

“So then Mike called me back five minutes later and was like, ‘How much were they offering?’ ”

About $20 million, Spicer said.

“Then he called me back maybe 10 minutes later and said, ‘And who do they want me to fight?’ And I told him Bob Sapp. And he started laughing hysterically.”

Sapp, 47, has a combined fight record of 24-39-1. He also has worked as a professional wrestler and actor. But Spicer said Sapp’s people failed to deliver on promises, and so the fight was off – but the idea of a Tyson comeback was gaining momentum.

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Through a business partner, Spicer said, they got connected with Sophie Watts, a media executive from London who has worked with the likes of Elton John, Beyonce, Madonna, U2, Paul McCartney and Mariah Carey.

Watts agreed to be the financier, and the search for someone to fight Tyson continued.

They reached out to Evander Holyfield, according to Spicer. During their fight in 1997, Tyson infamously bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear and this would be a chance to pit them in the ring together for the first time since then.

“We tried the Evander thing but unfortunately we just couldn’t get a deal done,” Spicer said.

Next up was Tyson Fury, the two-time heavyweight champion. Spicer said talks got leaked to Top Rank, Bob Arum’s boxing promotion company, and Arum wanted to be part of the deal. Which meant no deal, Spicer said.

About that same time, according to Spicer, he got a call from Roy Jones Jr., who at the peak of his career was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. Now 51, he had fought professionally as recently as 2018 as a cruiserweight.

Jones heard Tyson was interested in an exhibition fight and wanted to know if it was true, according to Spicer, who arranged a phone call between the two fighters.

After that conversation, and with the blessing of the California State Athletic Commission, the fight was on. With a twist.

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A league for legends

  Mike Tyson returns to boxing at 54 looking and sounding different © Provided by MMAJunkie

Mike Tyson, right, delivers a blow to Trevor Berbick during a boxing bout in 1986 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Tyson and Watts, the financier, came up with an idea: The Legends Only League, which would stage events featuring retired superstars such as Tyson who would participate in pay-per-view events. Tyson’s fight with Jones would launch the enterprise.

In explaining the league’s genesis, Tyson said he was watching a TV program about Jerry Rice, the Hall of Fame wide receiver. Tyson said he learned from the program that Rice couldn’t find a job in the NFL after the 2004 season with the Seattle Seahawks because he had lost some of his speed.

“They said just because he’s a few seconds off, he can’t play no more,’’ Tyson said. “And I feel like, ‘Are you crazy? He’s a few seconds away from his world-class speed and he can’t play anymore?’

“I’ll bet you right now there’s more people that would like to see him at wide receiver than to see the guys that’s the wide receiver now for the (Seahawks).”

The idea behind the Legends Only League is to create a platform for Rice and other retired superstars who, like Tyson, want to climb into the ring again – at least metaphorically.

“Imagine a one-on-one game with Dennis Rodman and Man of Peace,’’ he said, referring to Metta World Peace, who won an NBA championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010 and now goes by the name Metta Sandiford-Artest. “Imagine those two awesome athletes, those guys playing a game of 21. Who do you think will watch that?

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“Can you imagine John McEnroe playing Serena (Williams) or her sister (Venus Williams)? Holy moly!”

Watts, who is partnering with Tyson, declined to identify other athletes they have spoken to, but she said the Legends Only League has four events scheduled for 2021 and plans to hold six events in 2022 and six more in 2023.

“This is a league for champions to come together and have a story about their life on screen as a special one-off,’’ Watts said.

But Tyson isn’t necessarily one-and-done.

‘I hate being happy’

Mike Tyson et al. standing in front of a crowd © Provided by MMAJunkie

Mike Tyson in February at the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports)

As his fight against Jones approached, Tyson indulged discussion about whom he might fight next. He said he’d be interested in fighting the top contemporary heavyweights, such as Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

But he said it’s unlikely those fighters would agree to an exhibition match unless they set aside the priority of maximizing their earning potential. It’s unclear how much Tyson and Jones will make, but probably far less than the top heavyweights would generate fighting each other or other boxers in their prime.

“Sometimes in your life you’re going to have to face your maker,’’ Tyson said. “Not from dying, but just being conscious of him. Does that make any sense? The consciousness of him should make you want to do that (charitable act).

“What am I really going to do with so much (money)? I’m closer to God than I am to being a billionaire, something like that. What am I going to do when I meet God? What am I going to tell him?’’

Tyson and Jones are not giving away their fight.

The pay-per-view fee is $49.99. And the fight has led to business deals.

On Nov. 17, GameOn Technology announced a partnership with Tyson to for the Mike Tyson Bot, an interactive feature with Tyson-related content on Facebook Messenger.

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And on Monday, Smart Cups, a company that makes the “first printed beverage,” signed on to become the title sponsor of “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson,’’ his podcast.

But Tyson knows that no amount of money can give him peace of mind – something that eluded him for many years. Now he has a new problem.

“I hate being happy,’’ he said. “I’m happy all the (expletive) time.’’

‘A great burning desire’

Mike Tyson wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone © Provided by MMAJunkie

Mike Tyson at Dominance MMA media day at his Tyson Ranch in Los Angeles.

Tyson reflected on his growth since he was a troubled kid growing up in Brooklyn and then at 19 became the youngest heavyweight champion inhistory.

Told people were terrified of him back then, Tyson replied, “I was afraid of me too. No, really. How do you think that feels?”

Now he is far more beloved than feared, highly engaging and approachable, yet still required by law to register as a sex offender. In 1992, he was convicted of rape and served almost three years in prison.

Today his top executive assistant is one of his former cellmates, David Barnes.

Tyson lives with his third wife, Kiki, and their two children – a 12-year-old daughter, Milan, and a 9-year-old son, Morocco. The family splits time between Newport Beach and Henderson, Nevada, outside of Las Vegas.

“I’m just at peace with conducting my responsibilities with my family,” said Tyson, who has other children from previous relationships. “This is something that I never did. This is what, 11 years married? Can you believe that?

“I can’t live with me for 11 years. How can anyone else live with me for 11 years?”

For his upcoming fight, Tyson has brought in Billy White, who, like Tyson, grew up under the tutelage of Cus D’Amato, the late trainer credited with rescuing Tyson from the streets of Brooklyn.

White, who has been helping oversee Tyson’s training, said in the spring he got a call from Tyson, who disclosed his plans for a comeback.

“At the same time, we said in unison, ‘Cus said age is nothing but a number,’ ” White recalled. “We said it together on the phone. So that was pretty cool that we said it unison.”

White said he has relished watching Tyson train and noted that Tyson has been waking up between 3 and 4 a.m. most days to run.

“Old school, just like he used to,’’ White said. “It’s a great burning desire in him once again.

“It’s amazing to see. It’s beautiful, you know?”

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