Aside from the questionable result of a draw, the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. exhibition was a little more entertaining than what was anticipated. And when Tyson said before the fight that this wasn’t a one-off, he appeared to be telling the truth. In a postfight news conference, Tyson, 54, said he wants more, and that he will look even better next time. Boxing did gain some momentum and mainstream attention from this fight — will it benefit from a second showing?
In the meantime, however, there are a significant number of real fights on the horizon, starting Saturday as Errol Spence Jr. makes his return to the ring against Danny Garcia. It will be his first fight in more than a year and his first bout since his horrific car crash in October 2019. Will he be ready?
Later on this month, Gennadiy Golovkin returns for his IBF mandatory defense one day before Canelo Alvarez faces Callum Smith. Should GGG forget about Canelo and move on with the last part of his career? Does GGG or Canelo really need that third fight?
ESPN’s boxing experts share their thoughts on these topics and more.
Real or not: The boxing business needs more Mike Tyson
Stephen A. Smith shares his concern for former NBA player Nate Robinson after he got knocked out by YouTube star Jake Paul.
Ben Baby: Not real. Boxing doesn’t need more Mike Tyson. The novelty surrounding Tyson will wear off after last weekend. Nostalgia can sell for only so long. However, boxing does need more of what made last Saturday night so successful.
Let’s start with the main event. Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. were superstars who appealed to casual sports fans and even the general public. Boxing needs to find ways to build more fighters who can do that.
Then there was the co-main event that featured YouTuber Jake Paul against former NBA player Nate Robinson, who was known for being a 5-foot-9 slam dunk champion. It was an undercard fight people really wanted to see, and was captivating, even if it was a spectacle. But because of Paul’s incredible knockout, the bout created buzz that lasted beyond fight weekend. That’s rare, too.
More importantly, the whole event was just a solid night of entertainment. There were competitive fights, clean production and an event that was worth its pay-per-view price tag.
So no, boxing doesn’t need more Tyson. But everything else surrounding Saturday night? Boxing can’t get enough of that.
Real or not: Mike Tyson would look better in another fight back
Boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. fight to a draw as they go toe-to-toe in a highly anticipated exhibition match.
Eric Woodyard: Real. Although his next opponent probably won’t be Roy Jones Jr., Tyson has already stated his intention to return to the ring for another exhibition match. He admitted after the fight that he “could’ve done everything better.” And as crazy as it sounds, Tyson didn’t look horrible at 54 years old and 15 years removed from his last pro bout.
With more training, he could be sharper. His punching power was still on display, but more impressively, his stamina wasn’t too bad, especially in comparison to his opponent. Granted, the rounds were shorter (2 minutes each) and Jones Jr. was 51, but neither looked horrible.
Tyson credited his team for getting him physically ready and vowed to never call another boxer a “bum” again after what it took to get back in shape after all these years.
It depends on who his opponent will be in his next fight, but I believed him when he said, “God willing, I’ll be better in the next exhibition.” An Evander Holyfield-Tyson III could draw some heavy interest. I’d tune in for that.
Real or not: Errol Spence Jr. will KO Danny Garcia
Baby: Not real. Spence is having his first fight since the car accident that resulted in a driving while intoxicated charge and placed him in critical condition at a Dallas hospital in October 2019. While Garcia is a very notable welterweight and a former champion, he’s not of the same caliber as Spence, who along with Terence Crawford is the top 147-pounder in the sport.
Before the accident, Spence was a likely candidate to stop Garcia, whose only pro losses are to former titleholders Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. However, expect Spence to still try to find his footing in the early rounds. Spence should be able to cruise to a unanimous decision without taking too many risks. For his long-term career outlook, that’s probably the best approach.
Real or not: Errol Spence Jr. actually wants to fight Terence Crawford next
Michael Rothstein: Real. As with everything in boxing — and in life, really — it’ll come down to money. While the 41-year-old Manny Pacquiao might be the fight with more money potential for Crawford at this point, since Pacquiao is still one of the biggest draws in the sport, Spence is the best fight Crawford can have.
Crawford has been vocal about wanting to fight Spence at some point. Or to fight Pacquiao. And perhaps Crawford fighting Pacquiao first helps to open the door to the Spence fight from a financial perspective.
But this would be a smart fight for Spence to take as well, so long as he beats Danny Garcia on Saturday. Crawford and Spence are both undefeated and they are the top two welterweights in the world. So the fight would be a major draw and could easily be the start of a multifight deal that could net both fighters even higher purses.
And with Spence at age 30 and Crawford at age 33, it’s better to have the fight happen sooner than later. Boxing, as a sport, needs the fight to happen, too. The more superfights and unification of titles the better for the ability to promote the sport to both its current and new fans, which generates more revenue.
So it makes sense for Spence to want this fight, perhaps even more so if Crawford fights — and beats — Pacquiao first. It is very real, as long as they can make all sides happy financially.
Real or not: Gennadiy Golovkin should stop chasing Canelo Alvarez
Cameron Wolfe: Not real. At 38, Gennadiy Golovkin has only so many fights left and the main thing he can accomplish is drawing even with Canelo in a trilogy. Look, there’s not much left for Canelo to gain outside of money in taking a third fight with GGG. Some would argue he already won the first two. But this is about GGG, and a third Canelo fight would give him the most money, the most boost to his legacy and the biggest launch to end his career.
Now, I don’t believe GGG has it in him to beat Canelo, but it’s worth the shot. There’s talk about it being a possibility to happen in May 2021, assuming he takes care of Kamil Szeremeta and Canelo takes care of Callum Smith. GGG-Canelo III is a better alternative for Golovkin than Jermall Charlo or Demetrius Andrade — the only two other fights that can help him significantly add to his legacy — and it seems with Canelo now promoting himself, there’s a better shot at the trilogy being made.
So yeah, GGG should keep chasing Canelo and hope he can finally slay his nemesis before he has to put down the gloves. No promises it’ll go well for him, though.
Real or not: Billy Joe Saunders will beat Martin Murray and fight Canelo Alvarez next
Nick Parkinson: Real. WBO super middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, assuming he has prepared properly, should be too slick and clever for English rival Martin Murray, who incredibly gets a fifth shot at a world title after unsuccessful attempts against Arthur Abraham, Gennadiy Golovkin, Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm (the last of which was a draw).
Saunders, 31, is a sharp boxer when he is on his game — he was outstanding in victories against David Lemieux and Willie Monroe Jr. at middleweight in 2017 — but he can turn in disappointing, lackluster performances. Saunders knocked out Marcelo Coceres in the 11th round in his last outing a year ago, but it was neither an exciting nor dominant performance.
The incentive of a money-spinning fight against Canelo Alvarez next year might inspire Saunders to produce one of his better displays to convince promoters and broadcasters to make the Canelo fight.
Murray, 38, has admirably operated at an elite level for nearly a decade but has come up short against Hassan N’dam and George Groves in recent years when he has faced other top contenders.
It has been fun following Murray’s career and he definitely deserved the decision against Sturm, but his best days are surely behind him.
Saunders, however, can secure the biggest fight of his life if he extends his unbeaten record to 30-0 as Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is already talking up the possibility of a fight against Canelo in 2021. Fans might prefer to see Canelo-Golovkin III next year, but Saunders would be the perfect step toward that fight, while COVID-19 restrictions are still in place.
Real or not: Joe Joyce will fight for a title in 2021
Parkinson: Not real. At 35, Joe Joyce wants to move fast, but with all the titles in the hands of his English rivals Tyson Fury (WBC) and Anthony Joshua (WBA, IBF, WBO) he might have to wait and do a bit more to secure a mandatory position.
Fury and Joshua are talking about fighting each other twice in 2021, and Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, the WBO mandatory challenger, intends to enforce his right for a title shot. Usyk might end up facing Joshua next in the first half of 2021 if Fury’s next fight is against Deontay Wilder.
And if Fury and Joshua keep hold of the belts, Joyce will be kept waiting into 2022.
Joyce will now take Daniel Dubois’ No. 2 position with the WBO after Saturday’s 10th-round KO win, but it is likely he will have to beat other top contenders — such as Usyk — to secure a mandatory position.