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Tyson vs Jones: Organizers insist fight will be scored, knockout possible, winner will be announced

The sell job for Saturday’s exhibition fight has become a war between promoters and the California commission.

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American boxer Roy Jones Jr gives master class in St Petersburg, Russia Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

UPDATE (8:09 pm ET): A further statement from Ryan Kavanaugh, co-owner of Triller:

“We have nothing but the utmost respect for Andy (Foster) and everyone at (the California State Athletic Commission). For total clarity we are not implying that CSAC is picking a winner or scoring this, WBC is doing both. WBC is scoring under a 10-9, and a knockout will be a win under WBC’s scoring. The results will not be reflected on their fight record. We apologize for any confusion and look forward to a great night of fights Saturday night.”

The Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr exhibition on Saturday night might not be able to live up to the back-and-forth between promoters and the California commission that we’re seeing ahead of the bout.

With the commission making it clear this week that Tyson-Jones is about “entertainment” and not “competition,” and trying to get people to understand that this is an exhibition, organizers are swinging back.

“Know there have been some false rumors swirling, so to be crystal clear: the WBC is scoring the fight. There could be a knockout and there will be one winner,” Triller co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh said in a statement. “Anyone who says there is going to be no judging or no winner either does not understand the rules or has their own agenda. Unquestionably. 100%.

“DraftKings is the betting partner and is taking bets on the fight in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Illinois. The only difference in this fight is the gloves are 12 ounces, there are eight rounds and the rounds are two minutes rather than three. That is it.”

First of all, they’re not rumors. It’s exactly what Andy Foster of the California State Athletic Commission stated:

“Let’s call it an exhibition. That’s what it is. I want the public to know what this is because I don’t want people to be disappointed. As long as they know this is an exhibition, I’m fine for everybody to earn. ... There’s no official judges. The WBC is going to have some guest celebrity judges remotely, not official, not 10-9 [scores], nothing like that. No cumulative score. No winner announced. That’s a very entertainment centered thing. It’s about entertainment. It’s not about competition. ... It is what it is and it’s not more than it is but it’s going to be fun.”

Yes, the WBC is going to have the fight scored, and they’re handing out one belt or two belts or whatever. Anyone could have a couple belts made up; the WBC also awarded a belt at the end of the recent Julio Cesar Chavez-Jorge Arce exhibition in Mexico City, which nobody tried to convince you was a real fight because someone got a belt.

As for betting, there are several sportsbooks that allow you to bet on the outcomes of WWE matches, too, including DraftKings, at least in the past. I’m not saying this is a WWE match even if it’s a full-on exhibition, I am just saying that the ability to gamble on the event is not necessarily a sign of its legitimacy.

How to Watch Tyson vs Jones

Date: Saturday, Nov. 28 | Start Time: 9:00 pm ET
Location: Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
TV: PPV ($49.99) | Stream: FITE TV PPV ($49.99)
Live Online Coverage:

Now that said, let’s again be clear:

  • No headgear, unlike Chavez-Arce
  • 12 oz gloves
  • Eight rounds, two minutes apiece
  • The fighters did do VADA testing and completed medicals
  • The fight is not sanctioned and will not count toward either man’s official record
  • Foster has said the bout is not to go beyond “hard sparring,” and that the exhibition will be stopped immediately on a “bad cut” (it seems like a little nick or two will be OK)
  • The commission has said fighters are not to go for a knockout, but in all honesty I don’t see how you can enforce that other than having referee Ray Corona risk life and limb by jumping in the middle if he thinks they’re punching too hard

Listen, here’s the bottom line, because I would like to be done fielding statements: you buy this PPV at your own risk. Know what you’re going into. Take the organizer statements as seriously as you wish, have that information from them, but also have the information from the California commission. If you have all that and $50 sounds good to you, then there you go.

Either way you lean on actually buying it, we will be here at 9 pm ET on Saturday, Nov. 28, with live coverage for the full card, including round-by-round, to-the-minute updates for both Tyson-Jones and the Jake Paul-Nate Robinson fight, which is sanctioned, for the record.

In other Tyson-Jones news, Viddal Riley has withdrawn from his bout with former UFC fighter Rashad Coulter, which probably isn’t a massive shock to anyone, and will be replaced by Hasim Rahman Jr.

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