A fierce Mike Tyson recently made his menacing ring walk once again before unleashing an unholy onslaught of punches on his hapless foe, knocking him down and rendering him unable to fight. Except, all of this happened in a wrestling ring and not a boxing ring.
The 54-year-old former world heavyweight champ and “Baddest Man on the Planet” made a return to AEW Wrestling the other day and unleashed hell on…some wrestler guy…and then made…some alliance…with some other wrestler guy.
Tyson, however, is still very much in the exhibition boxing business and still very much wants to cash in on the odd cottage industry of old-timer faux boxing that he stumbled onto. Last November, his quarter-speed exhibition draw against a clearly out of shape 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. generated 1.6 million buys and $80 million dollars in pay-per-view revenue. His personal take was reported to be $10 million, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he took home considerably more.
Now, of course, he wants to go to that well once again– and there are plenty of old-timers, er, legends, eager to accommodate him, even if some will play hard to get to beef up their own payday.
“I want [Evander] Holyfield and I want Lennox Lewis this year,” Tyson said on his popular Hotboxing podcast. “I want both of them, I think I can get ‘em both this year”
Tyson has reportedly been in talks with Holyfield for awhile now, but his two-time conqueror and one-time recipient of a disfiguring bite to the earlobe has supposedly been holding out for a sweeter monetary deal.
“The Real Deal,” though, has been very public about calling out Tyson.
“No more excuses,” Holyfield recently said. “This is the fight that must happen for both our legacies…You said you were ready to fight me, so sign the contract and get in the ring, Tyson. The world is waiting and it’s on you now. I’m ready.”
For Tyson, taking on both Holyfield and then Lewis would offer some degree of revenge. Holyfield beat Tyson in back-to-back bouts in 1996 and 1997, the first time stopping him in eleven rounds and the second time via disqualification in the infamous “ear bite” debacle.
In 2002, Tyson was stopped in eight rounds by Lewis in a fairly one-sided affair that, for all intents and purposes, ended his run as a world class, main stage player in the sport.
These exhibitions not only offer Tyson the chance to rake in some ridiculously easy money, but they also give him, at least in his own head, the chance to revisit and at least partially re-write past rivalries and unsettled business.
But if Tyson can’t get past opponents and rivals into the exhibition ring, he’s also made it clear that he’s willing to take on active world class fighters in a faux fight.
“I (can) box an exhibition with Tyson Fury,” Tyson said. “If I do that– even if I can get those two guys [Holyfield and Lewis], I’ll say this is a wrap, I can go and live my life. And that’s just exhibitions. I’m going to break all my true records with exhibitions.”
Well, getting Tyson Fury in the ring for one of these fluff events would turn this whole exhibition stuff from harmless sideshow to actually detrimental to the sport, since he’d be pulling an active, world class, top heavyweight champ away from real bouts he could be making against other top heavyweights.
But Tyson vs. Tyson isn’t all that likely.
Also not likely is that Mike Tyson will be walking away from this money-making exhibition fight endeavor any time soon.
The man may be 54, but he’s in good shape and will have access to a seemingly endless flow of exhibition opponents and exhibition paydays. Already– aside from Holyfield and Lewis– heavyweights such as Shannon Briggs, James Toney, and Riddick Bowe have expressed interest in facing Tyson. There will be many more as time goes on.
Only the fans can decide when Tyson versus so-and-so at quarter-speed stops being a thing.