Roy Jones Jr. believes it’s hard to pick a favorite for his eight-round exhibition bout against Mike Tyson on Sept. 12 in Carson, California.
“It’s hard to say. Boxing is a strange sport,” Jones Jr. told ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday. “A lot of times people say the legs are the first thing to go, and my legs were really a key part of my style, my skill level. They say power is the last thing to go, and his power was the key element of his skill set.
“His skill set — his power — is still there. My skill set — my legs — are still there, but not what they used to be. So I wouldn’t be mad if they said he was the favorite, but I wouldn’t agree with that.”
While the fight is tabbed as an exhibition, Jones said he’s got to be ready for whatever Tyson throws at him. After all, both are proud individuals, historically great at their sport, and will be throwing punches at each other.
“For me, I know how to have fun in the ring and try to make it the best that I can make it,” Jones Jr. said. “But at the same time, Mike knows one way. It’s like playing with a pit bull pup. … He’ll play, but he’ll get lost because all he knows is [to] … go at it. So that’s all Mike knows — go at it. So I’ve got to be prepared for whatever Mike comes out with.
“Now, I want to box, have a good time and give people a good show, as well,” Jones Jr. continued. “But Mike ain’t ordinary. He’s not that person that can go out and do that. All he knows is to take your head off.”
With both fighters in their 50s, Jones believes this bout serves a particular purpose.
“We want to give people entertainment,” said the 51-year-old Floridian. “When you have two of the most entertaining fighters of the decade in the ring together, then it has to be entertaining. And I think Mike can say the same thing. We are willing to risk our health at a time like this, not only for the charitable part of it but to also give people entertainment at a time people don’t have entertainment.”
Tyson, 54, caused a stir as he posted footage of his training earlier this summer. Despite not having fought since losing to Kevin McBride in 2005, the video clips brought to mind memories of Tyson’s heyday as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and the baddest man on the planet.
“I thought, ‘wow, Mike is still just as explosive as ever,'” Jones Jr. said. “Mike is still just as dangerous as ever. The only thing about it is, you’ve been out of this sport for so long, it’ll be hard for him to go a full 12-round bout and sustain this.
“Yet he’s still good, he has his speed, he still has his power, he’s still highly explosive, so he’s still a dangerous guy. It’s going to be dangerous for all eight rounds. You’ve got to be ready to protect yourself because that’s Mike Tyson.”
Jones Jr. will be expecting anything and everything once the first punch is thrown.
“Because you’re dealing with Mike Tyson,” he said, “you’re at the mercy of Mike Tyson. If Mike decides to turn it on for five seconds, who’s going to save you? Nobody. So you better be ready to save yourself. You better be ready for it. You don’t know what Mike might do. You don’t know which Mike might come. Mike might get mad because he can’t hit you like he wants to.
“Anything can happen, so I have to be 100% ready.”