2020 will go down in history as one of the strangest, one of the most frightening and unsettled and one of the most unexpectedly different years of all-time. Chief among the cause for this was of course the coronavirus, but plenty of things some of our political leaders got up to added to the sense of bizarre here in 2020. In the boxing world, all the big fights took place before either no fans or in front of a limited amount of fans, and each of the sport’s big stars had to make do with one ring appearance only.
It is to the credit of this great sport as a whole that the fight game did not simply shrivel up and die over the past 12 months, while the creative powers belonging to the various boxing promoters also played a huge part in the boxing business keeping on keeping on. But when we look back on the last 12 months and we ask ourselves, who was the biggest boxing star of the year, the answer we get lets us know how powerful nostalgia was in 2020.
Without a doubt, Mike Tyson was the biggest, most talked-about prizefighter of this year. And the former heavyweight champ didn’t even engage in a real fight. But Tyson sure pulled in plenty of the prizefighters fight for money. Tyson, aged 54, whipped himself into fantastic shape and then – by cleverly putting out tantalising bursts of video footage that showed him hitting the pads and the bags, looking, “better than ever,” and “good enough and fast and powerful enough to beat today’s best heavyweights” – the youngest ever heavyweight ruler had succeeded in whipping the fans into a frenzy. All but forgotten was the dire manner in which Tyson had tried to fight journeyman Kevin McBride some 15 years ago.
Fans who had never forgotten Tyson’s mystifying prime years were not about to miss watching (and paying for) his brand new comeback. For some time we were made to wait for an announcement over who Tyson’s comeback foe would be. Would Tyson have a real fight? Would he face a ranked contender, a champion even? Or would Tyson merely box an exhibition, and with head-gear?
Enter fellow fifty-something legend Roy Jones (no longer Junior). And yes, it would merely be an exhibition, but one that would not require head-gear. The fans were not disappointed. In fact, the buzz surrounding Tyson’s September bout with the former multi-weight king was palpable. After a short postponement, news came that Tyson and Jones would only box two-minute rounds in their November showdown. Here still the fan excitement did not fade.
Fight night came, and the two greats with a combined age of 105 managed to put on a good show, an entertaining show. Plenty of people enjoyed it, while others still got well and truly carried away by what they saw; stating after the bout that Tyson could “beat today’s heavyweight champions if he has further training.” Tyson, who has smoked a veritable greenhouse full of marijuana over recent times, showed against Jones that he still has lung power, stamina and good overall conditioning (albeit over just eight two-minute rounds).
And then came the announcement of pay-per-view buys Tyson-Jones had pulled in.
Whether the buys topped 1.6 million or 1.8 million, there is no doubt – Tyson-Jones was THE biggest boxing pay-per-view event of 2020. Truly incredible stuff. Whether you find this news depressing, in as much as old stars dwarfed anything new boxing stars were capable of doing P-P-V wise this year (where are the future P-P-V kings?), or whether you are a Tyson fan (and a Jones fan) and you feel proud that your hero can still kick ass in more ways than one, there is no denying this:
Mike Tyson is boxing’s biggest star of 2020. Who knows if Tyson can keep it up in 2021. Do YOU want him to try?