Jake Paul is fighting Mike Tyson. Why this is happening and what to expect

Mike Tyson is returning to the ring. Yes, you heard that right. Tyson will face Jake Paul in a boxing match on July 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The YouTuber-turned-boxer Paul (9-1, 6 KOs) has said recently he wants to focus on fighting real boxers to eventually compete for a world title. Instead, he’ll fight long-retired Tyson (56-6, 44 KOs), a former heavyweight champion and one of the best in boxing history. His last competitive fight was almost 19 years ago, a TKO loss to Kevin McBride in June 2005. Tyson will be 58 when the fight takes place.

Tyson participated in an eight-round exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jr. in July 2020, and while the fight exceeded expectations, no one was clamoring for more. During the height of his career, Tyson was one of the most feared fighters in boxing and earned the moniker as the “Baddest Man on the Planet.” He was the undisputed heavyweight champion and still is the youngest fighter to win a heavyweight title in boxing history. After serving less than three years in jail for a rape conviction between 1992 and 1995, Tyson returned to the ring just five months later and, after two wins, regained the WBC title by defeating Frank Bruno in 1996.

After starting his boxing career facing fellow YouTubers and former MMA fighters, Paul, 27, lost a split decision to Tommy Fury in February 2023. Last August he faced another MMA fighter in Nate Diaz and stated he was going to change course with hopes of developing a true boxing career. He scored first-round KO wins over Andre August and Ryan Bourland since that point, fighting at the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds.

All of this begs us to ask one question: Why is this happening?

Mike Coppinger, Marc Raimondi and Timothy Bradley Jr. share their thoughts.

Why is this fight happening? Isn’t Tyson nearly 60?

Tyson might be old for a boxer, but time hasn’t eroded his star power one bit. Even though Tyson’s last professional fight took place in 2005, he remains one of the biggest names on the planet, not just in sports.

There’s also no doubt that Paul is one of the biggest social media stars out there. Add them together, and you have one massive event that’s sure to generate worldwide appeal, boxing purists be damned.

Netflix has upward of 260 million subscribers globally, and since this isn’t a PPV, there’s a chance this is the most-watched fight of this century. Seriously. Mayweather’s bout with Manny Pacquiao in 2015 shattered the PPV record with 4.6 million buys.

Long gone are the days of Muhammad Ali fighting on ABC in front of hundreds of millions. The Rumble in the Jungle was rumored to the most-viewed fight globally, but that was in 1974. And even for Tyson, the most popular fighter in the world since Ali — all his biggest fights were televised on PPV.

For the record, Tyson still looks the part, even at his advanced age. He’s in great shape and he still looks ferocious on the pads. Whether he can beat Paul, who is a much better boxer than given credit for, is a different story. — Coppinger

Will this be a real, sanctioned boxing match or an exhibition?

When Tyson faced Jones Jr., in November 2020, it was an exhibition where it was clear both all-time greats weren’t throwing punches with bad intentions. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the promotion isn’t trying to fool fans that it’s a real fight.

It’s unclear if this will be a boxing match sanctioned by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) or an exhibition, but Tyson will be 58 by fight night. And if Tyson-Jones ushered in one thing, it’s a pattern of events like this one where it’s totally ambiguous in the lead-up regarding exhibition vs. sanctioned fight.

In some cases, the exhibition turned out to be a fight where each man tried to hurt the other. Just look at Vitor Belfort and Evander Holyfield in September 2021, an exhibition where Belfort TKO’d the legend in the opening round.

Then there was the Logan Paul-Floyd Mayweather exhibition in the summer of 2021 where it was painfully obvious that neither man was throwing punches with the intent to inflict damage. After all, Paul and Mayweather were 35 pounds apart. That was anything but a real boxing match.

And when Tyson Fury fought Francis Ngannou in October, it was believed to be an exhibition for weeks, but turned out to be a very real fight that counted on both fighters’ records.

With Tyson’s age, it would be surprising if this isn’t another exhibition in the vein of Jake’s older brother vs. Mayweather. Just a fun event with two massive names where they shake out in the ring. But it all remains to be seen. — Coppinger

Should this fight even be happening?

Everyone involved will surely make a lot of money and there’s little doubt this will be one of the most watched boxing matches ever. But no one really wants to see a nearly 60-year-old Mike Tyson get beaten up by Jake Paul. That just wouldn’t be a good look for anyone, Paul and Netflix included. Some will surely believe Tyson will whoop up on the younger YouTube kid. But Paul is big, strong, athletic and three decades Tyson’s junior. He’ll have the advantage in every physical way.

Both are consenting adults and if they want to fight and the TDLR approves Tyson with a clean bill of health, then no one can really stand in their way. These are the kinds of spectacles that get put on these days in combat sports and this is the most polarizing one yet. The best-case scenario is the fight gets classified as an exhibition and the two have a friendly, yet physical sparring match, kind of like Tyson vs. Jones Jr. As Coppinger noted, those two weren’t throwing with bad intentions back in November 2020, but the crowd still went home satisfied with the event. Frankly, this is all about entertainment anyway, not real sports competition. And that’s OK if taken at face value. — Raimondi

Does this fight threaten the core values of boxing as a sport?

“Paper Tiger” is what I think of when I hear the name Jake Paul. The term means a person who appears strong on the surface but lacks the necessary skills and experience. It’s important to note that Paul has gotten better and has shown some improvements, achieving success since his loss to Tommy Fury.

But when I look at this situation with legendary Mike Tyson, who is 57, one of boxing’s all-time iconic figures, returning to the ring against Paul, I can’t help but think about our once-called sport and its lifeline. Many boxing purists, like me, have seen a shift in boxing as the business side has taken over. We see more and more crossover events, high-profile exhibition matches, and celebrity boxing matches becoming more prevalent nowadays. Modern-day boxing now prioritizes entertainment and financial gains over the traditional values of boxing, such as our amateur system, honed exceptional boxing skills, discipline, and overall professionalism.

One can argue these changes bring more eyeballs to our sport and have generated more revenue for boxers. But I would say and raise a question to everyone involved: where is the integrity in our sport we once had? Being called a boxing world champion meant something, as we saw in our featherweight division last Saturday from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, an impressive come-from-behind knockout win from Raymond Ford over Otabek Kholmatov with just seven seconds to go. Now, that’s boxing at its best! A Jake Paul and Mike Tyson matchup is a severe joke and a blow to the authenticity of professional boxing. — Timothy Bradley Jr.

Paul said he was focused on fighting ‘real boxers’ on his path to becoming a world champion. What happened?

Following Paul’s only pro loss, a split-decision defeat to Tommy Fury last year, he turned his attention to his bread and butter: MMA opponents. Paul soundly defeated Nate Diaz in August and then announced he would begin to develop his skills the ol’ fashioned way with bouts against “real boxers.”

Those “real boxers” were unquestionably far below the level of Paul’s MMA foes like Diaz, Ben Askren and especially Anderson Silva, but Jake’s crossover events were losing steam. And it made some sense from a narrative standpoint. Knock out a few part-time boxers with built-up records — the same way star fighters like Canelo Alvarez and Gervonta Davis did on the way up — with an eye on title contention.

Paul scored a first-round KO of journeyman August in December and followed up with a first-round TKO of another such opponent in Bourland on Saturday. But those bouts didn’t seem to elicit much attention.

So Paul has probably made the prudent move with a return to what he does best: star in a circus bout against a fellow big name. Whether Paul ever circles back to his stated goal of becoming cruiserweight champion remains to be seen. But this money-making event with Tyson should do little to change that trajectory. It will only stand to boost Paul’s profile, and again, it should be an exhibition where Paul doesn’t lose any boxing credibility. — Coppinger

What does this mean for Paul’s future prospects?

He’ll remain a big box-office attraction for whoever comes along with a large enough name. Back in 2020, after Paul knocked out Nate Robinson, he said his dream fight was with UFC star Conor McGregor. At the time, it seemed absolutely ridiculous that could ever happen. Fast forward less than four years later and it’s a distinct possibility. McGregor has two fights left on his UFC contract. He wrote on Instagram earlier this week that he wants to fight twice this year, once in June and once again in September. That would potentially make him a free agent before 2024 is out.

Paul fighting Tyson doesn’t necessarily preclude him from continuing to fight gatekeepers with an eye toward title contention one day. But it’s also clear that if these big-money events come up, he’s not going to turn them down to continue steadily on that championship path against unknowns. For all the criticism that this fight with Tyson will rightly glean, it’s pretty remarkable what Paul and Most Valuable Promotions has done in a very short time, putting on major boxing events and building its roster. Paul has made combat sports work for him, rather than vice versa. — Raimondi

How does Netflix fit in with all of this?

The biggest part of this story isn’t Paul or Tyson. It’s that Netflix is streaming this fight live internationally without an added paywall. Paul vs. Tyson will be the third sporting event Netflix has hosted and streamed. There is surely more to come, and not just with Netflix’s big rights deal with WWE for the Raw television show in the United States and the wrestling promotion’s full slate of offerings being available on the streaming giant worldwide.

Paul vs. Tyson at AT&T Stadium is a full-throated message from Netflix that is going in big on not only sports, but combat sports, specifically. That could be a very good thing for boxing with Showtime and HBO bowing out of the game in recent years after decades of being market leaders. Perhaps Netflix could even be a player for the UFC, too, when its rights deal with ESPN is over. — Raimondi

First appeared on www.espn.com

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