Maybe it’s Mike Tyson’s fault. Or perhaps we can blame Jake Paul.
Though truly meaningful fights can’t seem to get made on anything resembling a regular basis, there’s been no shortage of the exhibitions and other nonsense that went mainstream when “Iron Mike” and the “Problem Child” got involved in late 2020.
Evander Holyfield and David Haye stepped in for separate bouts in Florida 10 months after the Tyson-Paul show, and their big top was even more circus-like thanks to an ex-president who chose cringey PPV analysis as an appropriate tribute to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
But I neither came to praise an Apprentice host nor bury one.
Instead, I’ve decided to go all-on on the spectacle and pine for a few of my own.
So, in the recent spirit of Hatton-Barrera, Mayweather-Deji and others, here’s my trio grande.
Douglas-Tyson II: Some called Tyson’s so-called 2020 return an embarrassment.
Others found it among the most compelling events of that year.
But no matter where you fall on the modern-day Mike continuum, it’s impossible to argue the amount of pre-fight interest the eight-round exhibition with RJJ generated.
With that in mind, we’ll go all-in on the novelty and suggest – if he’s ever bound and determined to do it again – why not share the marquee with the guy who rendered him a mere mortal back in 1990?
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you James “Buster” Douglas.
“Sure, I would welcome the opportunity,” Douglas, now 62, told USA Today, shortly after Tyson met Jones. “Being a prizefighter all those years and still feeling pretty good today, you always feel you got one more fight in you.”
Douglas stopped a then-unbeaten Tyson in 10 rounds in February 1990 but lost his championship claim in his first defense eight months later against Holyfield. He retired for nearly six full years before returning for eight wins in nine more fights, but he never faced Tyson again.
“I’ve been asked about it in casual conversation,” Douglas said. “They always ask, ‘Why didn’t you guys have a rematch?’ It was just never presented really, as far as a rematch. It was often mentioned. That’s about it.”
No time like the present.
Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou: No, this one’s exactly not Ali-Frazier either.
But we’d suggest that if there isn’t at least a little part of you that would be interested in watching this battle, perhaps you should check for a pulse.
Boxing’s reigning heavyweight kingpin, Fury, is 6-foot-9, typically weighs around 270 pounds and has rarely shied away from an opportunity to command headlines. Meanwhile, the champion of the UFC’s big-man division, Ngannou, is 6-foot-4, weighs just north of 260 pounds and has earned 12 of his 17 career wins by knockout.
So, if you’re looking for a perfect combat sports monster movie, Fury-Ngannou fits the bill.
And not surprisingly, the brash English boxer is into it.
He tweeted a photo of the two of them earlier this year with the message “Who would like to see me fight this beast boxing rules @UFC gloves?” and tagged both Ngannou and UFC czar Dana White.
Ngannou, meanwhile, responded that he’d prefer boxing gloves and UFC rules, but he’s expressed interest in the past about Fury and/or ex-champ Deontay Wilder in a traditional boxing venue.
“Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder. I would like to test myself to that level,” he told TMZ Sports.
“It’s not the same sport, although I’m the champion, I’m in the top in this division. At the end of the day, it’s just about like trained hands, trained punches, having a good delivery system to produce bombs, and I’m sure that if I deliver my own punch, it’s pretty good, I can make some damage.”
Even if there’s no guarantee he’ll deliver on his claim, we’re dying to see him try.
Paul-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: While it’s true that boxing purists hear Paul’s name and immediately turn up their noses, it’s no less true that he brings a lot of eyes, clicks and dollars with him.
The crowds are full of millennial-aged fans drawn by his social media street cred, not to mention big-time athletes and celebrities from all walks of flashbulb-seeking life.
In fact, though they may cringe while doing so, a host of would-be foes are perpetually lining up for their turn to share a marquee with the reigning and defending lightning rod.
And in our opinion, none are more intriguing than Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
The son of Mexican legend and Hall of Fame inductee Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Chavez Jr. has also been a lightning rod thanks to years of uninspiring performances, blown weigh-ins and failed drug tests.
He was beaten by ring novice Anderson Silva in June but would still represent the first full-fledged boxer Paul has met while building his brand, something detractors have been demanding.
Though he’s not held a title in 10 years and not beaten a widely recognized name in nearly that time, he’d still represent a significant step up from what Paul’s been matched with skills-wise and would be a relevant enough foil to generate competitive interest and the cash that comes with it.
Good enough for us.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBA cruiserweight title — Le Cannet, France
Arsen Goulamirian (champion/Unranked IWBR) vs. Aleksei Egorov (No. 1 WBA/Unranked IWBR)
Goulamirian (26-0, 18 KO): Third title defense; Zero fights since December 2019
Egorov (11-0, 7 KO): First title fight; Zero fights since March 2020
Fitzbitz says: Neither has fought in two-plus years, which raises questions as to how either warrants a title fight. But that’s the WBA. As for the fight, I like Egorov’s resume better. Egorov by decision (80/20)
Last week’s picks: 2-0 (WIN: Edwards, Alimkhanuly)
2022 picks record: 35-14 (71.4 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,244-406 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body’s full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.
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Maybe it’s Mike Tyson’s fault. Or perhaps we can blame Jake Paul.
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