Is Mike Tyson's return good for boxing?

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Danny Howard

August 10th, 2020

For what it’s worth, it’s good to see Mike Tyson again.

Tyson has always been a captivating force, from his time dominating the heavyweight ranks in the 1980s, to his more troubled periods.

Because of his history, it isn’t a shock Tyson’s upcoming exhibition against Roy Jones Jr. in September has captivated boxing.

Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao have not announced their next fight dates, and Errol Spence and Danny Garcia won’t fight until November, so Tyson’s "fight" with Jones is the biggest thing going on in the sport right now.

Normally, this would be a cause for concern, but these aren’t normal times.

Don't call it a comeback

Tyson’s return isn’t really a return. It has been made excruciatingly clear by those involved that the 54-year-old Tyson and the 51-year-old Jones will compete with headgear, larger gloves, and no judges to score the fight.

A chance to see two legends share the ring? Yes. A comeback? No.

Boxing has long had sideshows, like Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki in the 70s, Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn at Wrestlemania XV, or even Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor in 2017.

Despite the wild fantasies of casual fans and certain industry people that Tyson could make a run at his advanced age, it’s likely he will return to civilian life after his sparring session with Jones.

State commissions won't touch Tyson with a 10-foot pole

Even if Tyson does consider an actual return to the professional ranks, so what?

No state commission or sanctioning body in its right mind would cosign a potential disaster, should Tyson face a ranked heavyweight. He should never, ever, face anyone in the neighborhood of the top 50.

If there is anything to give the naysayers, it is that there is no reason Tyson/Jones should be this captivating. Boxing is still in a transitional phase, following the departure of Mayweather. Today's fighters are just not active or personable enough to transcend the paywalls the sport continues to bury itself under.

Tyson is stealing focus from worthy fighters

We should be talking about the greatness we’re seeing out of Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko, and others. Networks need to make an effort to build a fighter into a legitimate attraction. Fans too need to stop being fascinated by boxing’s past, to the point where they ignore the present and the future.

For now, let the old guys have their fun. They’re in shape, they’re willing to do it, and they aren’t going to be in a position where they can seriously hurt each other. As for Tyson, let’s hope that this is as much catharsis as he needs and an extended return isn’t in the cards.