Tyson back at 54 for 'amazing' exhibition bout

LOS ANGELES • Mike Tyson, the former world heavyweight boxing champion who retired in 2005, wants to prove that older athletes are not “washed up” and can still compete at a high level.

The 54-year-old announced on Thursday he will make a comeback on Sept 12 in Los Angeles, fighting an eight-round exhibition against American-born Russian Roy Jones Jr, 51, who briefly held the heavyweight title and has fought consistently into his 50s.

The fight will be part of a three-hour pay-per-view event shown on Triller, a virtual social media and music platform which has also obtained streaming rights to a 10-part docuseries featuring behind-the-scenes and pre-fight footage leading up to the bout.

“It’s just going to be amazing,” Tyson, who in May posted videos of himself training, told ESPN.

He shrugged off any notion of danger for serious injury, saying that California rules will require both fighters to wear headgear.

The American finished 50-6 with 44 knockouts while Jones, who last fought in February 2018, is 66-9 with 47 knockouts.

Tyson vowed that it would be competitive rather than for show and said he wants to recapture the fearsome form he once displayed.

“It’s 100 per cent of it looking to be Mike Tyson in the ring,” he said. “I’ve got one speed – forward.”

In a battle of seniors, he also said he wants to show older can still mean exciting in the sports realm.

“We aren’t washed up. Somebody says overage is washed up but they have a bigger fan base than the guys who are training now,” he said.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history at 20 years and four months when he stopped Trevor Berbick in the second round in 1986 to win the World Boxing Council crown.

Within a year, he was the undisputed champion and dominated the division by going 37-0.

But in February 1990 in Tokyo, he suffered a 10th-round knockout by James “Buster” Douglas in a stunning upset.

He was arrested for rape in 1991 and convicted in 1992, serving three years in prison before his 1995 release and return to the ring.

Tyson regained the title but lost twice to Evander Holyfield, disqualified the second time for biting his rival’s ear, earning a suspension that kept him sidelined for 18 months.

He had one last chance at the heavyweight crown, losing to Britain’s Lennox Lewis in 2002. He retired after six rounds against Kevin McBride in 2005 in his final fight, days shy of his 39th birthday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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