UFC boss Dana White was a guest this past week on the Sportsnet Tim & Sid show in Canada to discuss UFC 249 and other topics, one of which was the possible ring return — in whatever capacity — of boxing legend Mike Tyson.
Tyson, as you surely know by now, has said he’s interested in doing some exhibition bouts. A clip of him hitting the pads went viral, which stoked the fire. Evander Holyfield wants to get in there with him, Shannon Briggs wants to get in there with him, I’m sure plenty of others would leap at the chance.
But White, who has been friendly with Tyson for years, isn’t among those who want to see it.
“I love Mike Tyson. I love the guy. He was one of my guys that I looked up to growing up. I’ve always been a huge fan of his and all that stuff, and he and I have become very good friends,” White said. “And I’m begging him not to go fight. I’m begging him. I said, ‘You look awesome, you’re still explosive, you’re obviously still powerful. You’re one of the all-time greats, [but] Mike, you’re 53. Please don’t do it.’ We’ll see what happens.”
White added that he knows Tyson seems dead set on returning in some form, and suggested he might try to step in and give Tyson something else to do instead.
“He absolutely wants to do something. I don’t know what he’s gonna do, but he absolutely wants to do something. Bottom line is I don’t want Mike to fight, and if it comes down to where he’s about to do something crazy, I might have to jump in and, I don’t know, figure out something for him not to do it.”
Tyson will surely do whatever he wants to do here, and the intrigue people feel is understandable. He’s an almost mythical figure in the world of boxing and sports in general, but Mike Tyson was finished in the ring 15 years ago. A short exhibition with protective gear would be one thing; anything more than that seems like too much of a risk, really, at least in my view.