Entering the ring again wasn’t even a thought for former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson until several propositions hit his radar, 15 years after his last professional bout.
First, there was a proposed MMA fight versus Bob Sapp, then boxing matches against former heavyweight titlist Shannon Briggs and longtime rival Evander Holyfield. Ultimately, his camp decided on an exhibition bout against fellow boxing legend Roy Jones Jr., which will be held on Nov. 28.
But Tyson told ESPN this week it might not be the last time fight fans are able to see the 54-year-old who was once feared as “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”
“I don’t know. I might do this for a while. Let’s check this stuff out,” Tyson told ESPN’s Peter Rosenberg. “It would be so awesome if we could do this all around the world and fight the best fighter in that country, exhibitions with this guy in that country, exhibitions all over the world. Wouldn’t that be great?
“I wanted to fight a four-round exhibition, next thing I know, I’m fighting Roy Jones, it’s eight rounds and I got three judges and I got a belt involved,” he continued. “Now you tell me, is this an exhibition? You tell me. What the f— is going on? I want an exhibition, now I got a belt involved. C’mon, man.”
Throughout this process, Tyson has said he has regained his energy and desire for the sport after recovering from losses in life. He feels much better now in training than he did initially when he was just getting started.
Tyson, boxing’s youngest heavyweight champion in history, also offered his take on the current stars of his former division, including Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. Although Tyson has respect for all three, he sees Fury as the top dog.
“I think he’s very good,” Tyson said of Fury. “He looks like he’s not intimidating, but he’s really elusive, he really knows how to box, he’s really smart and he’s really difficult to hit and he’s 7-foot, damn near. He’s a monster.”
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Even as Wilder recovers from his one-sided, TKO loss to Fury on Feb. 22, Tyson still praised the former champion and urged him to keep pursuing the trilogy bout.
“When Wilder gets his head out of his butt, he’s good. Wilder just gotta stop internalizing stuff, this guy is great,” Tyson said. “Just keep on fighting. Fight [Fury] again. Fight him a third time. Whenever you have an opportunity to fight for the title, he should fight. We [as boxers] can only do this for a certain amount of time in our life, and then we can’t do it anymore. So we have to do it as much as we can before we end this stuff.”
Tyson still sees things Joshua needs sharpen in his skill set.
“I don’t think he’s a paper champion. I just think he’s a big guy — it’s hard to fight being that big,” Tyson said of Joshua. “It’s very difficult being that big and having to fight a smaller guy … that guy could learn some more. He could be taught some more stuff.”
Although the heavyweight division has regained popularity, Tyson is also engaged and entertained by the lightweight class — which proves to be one of the hottest weight classes in boxing. Like the rest of the world, Tyson wants to see young champions such as Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis and Devin Haney continue to go at it at this stage of their careers and not wait too long.
“Spectacular. He beat the man to beat — now, he’s the man to beat,” Tyson said of Lopez. “I think differently than these guys — these guys think, ‘Hey, I want to fight this guy and then I’ll fight the other guy two years later.’ So, if I’m Lopez right now, right, I’ve got Loma. I beat him.
“So, now I want to get Gervonta Davis. I want Davis, and I want Shakur [Stevenson], and I want to fight those guys in one year,” he added. “I want to fight both those guys this year instead of fighting one guy, then three years later, fight [another] guy if he’s still champion. You’ve got to fight the guys that you know will be hot now.”