Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr have been told that their planned return to the boxing ring is “plain dangerous and wrong” by the brain injury association Headway.
The former boxing world champions confirmed their intention to make a comeback against each other in an exhibition on Thursday night, with 54-year-old Tyson looking to return to the sport 15 years after he last fought.
Fifty-one-year-old Jones Jr has not fought since February 2018, but Tyson announced on social media that they have agreed to stage an exhibition bout in September that will be broadcast on pay-per-view television.
Jones Jr, who made his name at super middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight, admitted that he is at a massive physical disadvantage against former heavyweight world champion Tyson.
”It’s very risky,” he said. “I was better than anybody in any weight class I was in. He’s a giant. I’m the little David, who only has God on my side, but that’s all I need.”
But the fight plans have been condemned by Headway’s deputy chief executive Luke Griggs, who believes that their age combined with their deteriorating condition makes the bout a “dangerous” idea that could leave either of them seriously hurt or even dead. It’s understood that head guards will not be used by either fighter, and they are set to wear 12oz gloves that although they offer more protection from each punch can still inflict significant damage.
“When we all get older, we do become more vulnerable and our brains do take longer to recover from any injury,” Griggs told Sky Sports.
“The brain is no different. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to recover after any kind of trauma and as we get older that does diminish. There’s no set age when that happens and there’s no set predictor for what will happen, but as we do get older we do become more vulnerable. In addition to that we’ve got slower reaction speeds.
“While these guys in their 20s may have been able to duck and weave and dodge the punches, the reality is what ability are they going to have to do that now, and it may well be that they’re more prone to not being able to defend themselves.
“Boxing fans don’t really want to see a fight that’s won on points or an exhibition, they want to see the real blood and guts of the fight and I think if somebody is standing their punching you in the head and trying to cause you damage I think the ability to stay calm – and I know it’s only an exhibition – I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Whatever happens, they’re still going to try and punch each other. Any blow to the head can potentially be fatal, this is just plain dangerous and it’s wrong.”
Jones Jr has been operating as a trainer most recently, with Chris Eubank Jr notably working with him this year. Known as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time, Jones Jr last fought in the ring in February 2018, beating Scott Sigmon on points.
Jones Jr recently discussed the potential meeting of legends following viral footage of Tyson training throughout lockdown.
Jones Jr said: ”Yes, it’s true – Mike is a legend. It would be crazy to receive an offer to enter the ring with him and refuse.
“I had no intention of going back and fighting again but, for the sake of Mike Tyson, I agree to make an exception.
“For me, this is an opportunity that I cannot refuse. Of all those who wanted to go into the ring with him, he chose me. And since he did that, how can I say no?”