By Matt Christie

“THIS event could quite easily end up being the biggest boxing event in history and usurp Floyd Mayweather’s fights with Conor McGregor and even Manny Pacquiao,” concluded a press release about the Mike Tyson versus Jake Paul ‘event’ that is supposedly going to happen on July 20 in Dallas.

Where to start on all of that? The obvious place would be that Tyson, who will be 58 in June, is fighting 27-year-old Jake Paul.

Tyson retired in 2005, all but 20 years ago, when he was so far past his best it was jarring to watch him get pasted in his final two outings. Regardless of Paul’s middling fighting skills and Tyson’s prowess back in the 1980s, thirty-one years is an abhorrent age difference in a boxing match. Tyson peaked in 1988, back when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, Ronald Regan was president, Steffen Edberg won Wimbledon, Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final, Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine was the biggest selling record in the UK, Bros dominated the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, Die Hard premiered to mediocre reviews, and Jake Paul was still nine years away from being born.

Tyson has had his eyes on Paul for a while, however. In 2022 he said of Jake: “You can see [his punches] coming a mile away. I’m 55, I can see that coming a mile away. I would beat these f**kers. I’d go straight at them, there would be no boxing. The only thing I got to do is be in shape. Thirty days of boxing training every day and I can fight anyone. If I was boxing every day I wouldn’t even have to worry about my diet.”

Tyson last fought in 2005 when he was beaten up by the limited Kevin McBride. One suspects he could see McBride’s telegraphed punches coming a mile away back then, too. Problem was, he was too slow to get out of their way and his reactions too frayed to counter them. Are we really to believe that the passing of 19 years has sharpened up his brain?

Tyson-Paul, presuming this whole thing is not some massive hoax, is going to be broadcast on Netflix, the streaming behemoth with little prior interest in live boxing. Instead of bidding to showcase the talents of Terence Crawford or Naoya Inoue or Oleksandr Usyk – the best fighters in the sport and not one a genuine worldwide household name – they want something easy, something without a load of belts on the line to attempt to explain, something that is so attention-grabbing that the audience will arrive in droves. Presumably to disguise the fact that Tyson is old enough to be Paul’s grandfather, the event’s official poster includes a photo of Paul from 2024 and a photo of Tyson from 2005. Meanwhile, the world is losing their mind over the Princess of Wales doing a little home photoshopping on a picture of her own children and accusing her of misrepresentation.

Somewhat depressingly, the hyperbole in the Tyson-Paul press release is likely to be accurate: This fight, or whatever it turns out to be, will do ginormous business and could well be one of the biggest boxing events of all time.

The mention of Mayweather versus McGregor should also be bothersome. And not because the statement isn’t true, but because it is. Mayweather, the greatest boxer of his era, versus McGregor, who had never boxed before, remains one of the biggest events in the sport’s history. In fact, we haven’t had a fight, in terms of worldwide interest, that’s come close since. Well, until now.

All of that should tell anyone we have a problem here. Football is a lazy comparison, I know, but there is no way that a novelty match could ever draw more interest than a real one, much less stand tall as one of the most-watched games in football history. And if football is indeed the wrong sport with which to compare boxing, replace with ANY other sport and the same is still true. Don’t expect many to tell you there’s a problem, however. Too many influential journalists and broadcasters and YouTubers and boxers and ex-boxers and trainers and and managers – in short, anyone who thinks their services might be required to promote this sham – will already be choosing their words very carefully.

Plenty will tell you it is what it is, that it’s just a bit of fun. I’ve seen some predict that the fit and strong twentysomething Paul will be in danger against 58-year-old Tyson. Perhaps. Yet it’s easy to wonder if those forming that opinion watched Tyson huff and puff his way through 10 rounds against a shot Roy Jones Jnr back in 2020. The same Roy Jones Jnr who had been knocked out by Enzo Maccarinelli, Denis Lebedev, Danny Green barely blinked when clocked by a 54-year-old Mike Tyson. One also wonders if they saw Evander Holyfield, when 58 years old, get mauled by Vitor Belfort in a spectacle so ugly it defies belief that anyone – let alone the paymasters at a broadcasting giant – thinks Tyson-Paul is a good idea.

Perhaps the only positive in the statement is the mention of Mayweather-Pacquiao, a real fight between two genuine masters of their trade, that remains the richest bout of them all. Though we’ve seen the odd superfight in the subsequent nine years, the sport remains so fractured and unable to pull together to guarantee their occurrence – and therefore hinder the widespread public’s interest – it makes it too easy for monstrosities like Tyson versus Paul to steal the limelight. And that’s the real lesson here, albeit one that seems destined to forever be lost in translation.