Los Angeles (November 30th, 2020) - The immensely anticipated Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Frontline Battle Exhibition fight lived up to the hype with "Iron Mike" and "Superman" turning back time to deliver an intense back and forth affair at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. during the main event on Saturday night.
The main event, which was the culmination of "Frontline Battle" (the first event produced under Mike Tyson's Legends Only League in a joint venture with Eros Innovations), saw Tyson and Jones Jr. trade heated exchanges with powerful bursts of explosive power that reminded everyone of their former world champion status. In the first round, Tyson came out swinging, landing a series of ferocious jabs and seizing the moment at the onset. Jones Jr., being the former world-champ and ultimate competitor that he is, resiliently battled back and absorbed Mike's early barrage of firepower. As the fight continued, Jones Jr. even landed a quick series of combination punches to Tyson's body, reminiscent of the style that earned Jones Jr. the label of "greatest pound for pound boxer on the planet" in his heyday. Ultimately, in the final round Tyson repeatedly landed inside jabs and strong uppercuts, with Jones Jr. bravely holding his ground and surviving the barrage until the final bell. While many had expected the main event to end via knockout, Tyson and Jones Jr. went the distance, with the fight ending in a split-decision tie.
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. were both awarded WBC Frontline Battle Championship belts after their split-decision tie.
The official results from the main fight card are as follows:
Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. - Unofficial Draw
Jake Paul vs. Nate Robinson - Paul victory via second-round TKO
Badou Jack vs. Blake McKernan - Jack victory via unanimous decision
The event, which was streamed globally across Triller and PPV platforms worldwide, was hosted by Mario Lopez and featured commentary from Snoop Dogg, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, and MMA fighter Israel Adesanya. The star-studded lineup from the commentary booth balanced the tense moments in the ring, as Snoop Dogg was even declared the "unofficial winner" of the event by Rolling Stone Magazine. While Snoop didn't duke it out in the ring, he did offer legendary musical performances that capped off an all-star line up of musical acts throughout the night. Frontline Battle featured musical performances from artists French Montana, Swae Lee, Wiz Khalifa, Saint Jhn, YG, and Snoop Dogg who rocked the virtual crowd with top hits like "Unforgettable", "Roses", "We Dem Boys", and "Swag" among others.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no fans were allowed inside Staples Center for the event, but the set-design was specifically tailored to the unique environment with socially distanced stages and virtual screens with Legends Only League graphics that enhanced the viewing experience throughout the night. The intimate set drew the praise of The New York Times' Kevin Draper as he wrote,
"Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night? The production value of the stream is actually pretty good... There is a lighting grid right above the ring — which probably wouldn’t work outside of the pandemic because it would block the view of fans — that is shining directly onto the fighters. All other lights are off, giving the fights a cinematic feel, like a better version of how the Barclays Center is lit for Brooklyn Nets games."
The intense boxing ring and cinematic set-design from Staples Center drew rave reviews on Saturday Night.
"The first night of the Legends Only League was a successful premiere...The structure of the card was smart. It began with up-and-coming talent opening the night, a showcase of one legitimate boxer in Badou Jack to add credibility, and then influencers in Jake Paul and Nate Robinson. The main event featured two big draws, especially Mike Tyson. That is a recipe that can work, permitting the shows don’t run too often."
The first event of Mike Tyson's Legends Only League showed that fans are still drawn to sports stars who may seem past their prime, but still have a lot left in the tank. While Saturday night's event wasn't the same as watching an old school Tyson or Jones Jr. fight, the 1.6 million+ PPV buys and pre-fight PPV sales record showed that watching two legends go at it under the bright lights of Staples Center to culminate a night of exciting entertainment was just the event people needed right now.
Bleacher Report's Kelsey McCarson wrote,
"Tyson vs. Jones was exactly what many probably needed right now. It was a blast from the past that reminded everyone how fun life could be sometimes.
It was a nostalgic ride with some of your favorite people doing old things in a new way. It was Tyson vs. Jones, and it might turn out to be the best thing about an unforgettable year."
Always looking towards the future, Mike Tyson has teased fights in 2021, with names such as Evander Holyfield and Floyd Mayweather being considered as possible opponents. In addition to another marquee Tyson bout, the league is designed to be sport agnostic, with future basketball, tennis, and Formula1 events on the horizon.
While the coronavirus pandemic has complicated sporting competitions at-large in the past year, the success of this inaugural Legends Only League event revealed one important thing that has remained constant amid increased volatility worldwide: people like to be entertained by those who do it best. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. did just that on Saturday night, and surrounded by celebrity influencers, up and coming fighters, and a-list musical talent, Frontline Battle delivered under the most trying of circumstances.
While Saturday night marked the end of a long road back to the ring for two legends, for Mike Tyson's Legends Only League, this is just the beginning. If Frontline Battle showed us anything, it's that, for the league at-large, the best is yet to come.