Where there is smoke, there is fire. And in the world of professional boxing, the bookies never seem to be too far behind the shenanigans taking place on any given Saturday night in arena's across the globe. And with a closer examination of the sweet science itself, one finds that virtually every level in professional boxing is corrupted and on the take as a seemingly infinite amount of ways to defraud the public exists in mastering the art of separating a fool from his money. From the major state athletic commissions down to the lowly frauds in the combat sports media, they’ve all got their hand in the cookie jar of corruption as fixed fights are increasingly becoming as common place in the combat sports entertainment industry. And with this past weekends Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. showdown blurring the lines between boxing and the entertainment world of professional wrestling, the bastardization of the sport continues its downhill decline into the precipices of the modern day sideshow circus attraction that it has now become.
According to a November 24, 2020 Chael Sonnen YouTube video titled, “Knockouts NOT allowed in a Mike Tyson Fight?” the likely heir apparent to UFC president Dana White’s throne chimed in with his thoughts on the much heralded Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. exhibition showdown with a few points of his own worthy of note. “Okay, back the tape up,” suggested Sonnen. “We find out that Tyson is going to fight again and then we find out he’s going to fight Roy Jones. Wow. Didn’t see that one coming,” said Sonnen. “So, we then get revealed to us and I’m going through the timeline, we then get revealed to us that there are going to be special rules. Most specifically the duration of the rounds; which are going to be shortened from three minutes to two minutes and the number of rounds which are going to be shortened from 12-rounds or even a 10-round fight down to 8 rounds. Great. Get it, like that part of it,” admitted Sonnen.
“Somewhere along the way, it gets revealed to us that they will be forced to wear headgear,” explained Sonnen. “Somewhere else along the way, it gets called an exhibition. A sparring session and then comes full circle back to no, this is going to be a fight. There’s going to be a fight. They are going to fight. Hold that thought and hold that word. Let me continue on,” explained Sonnen in leading in to his ultimate point.
“It then comes out that they are not going to wear headgear and somewhere around a week ago it comes out that this is not going to be fully sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, it’s going to be approved by the California State Athletic Commission. Which simply means it’s taking place in California, the athletic commission which is the governing body, who has said we are not going to do the full testing and the full rigmarole, in exchange these guys are going to exhibit their boxing skills through a hard-sparring session,” noted Sonnen. “I liked the way that was phrased because it taught me something. They are going to exhibit their boxing skill. Because I’ve heard it called an exhibition and I’ve never known what in the hell that means."
Later, the ESPN MMA analyst went on to note, “Okay, I am all for this but what all does it mean? Because there is a promoter, meanwhile, in conjunction with a distribution partner known as pay-per-view who is advertising this as a fight. If they’re not fighting, that’s fraud. Real simple. That’s a class action fraud lawsuit. Real simple,” explained Sonnen. “And within the state of California, you have to go by what fight is. By the way, they define it because that’s where the fight is taking place. You can’t get, you can’t turn to your Merriam-Webster dictionary and look up the word fight. It doesn’t work that way. There is 50 different jurisdictions within this country that all define a fight differently,” explained Sonnen with deep insight into the fight game.
And with the ways in which fights are fixed varying greatly, the ability to bob and weave between different jurisdictions while exploiting the various legal definitions and modus operandi in which the numerous athletic commissions operate enable crooked promoters, commissions, fight managers etc. to exploit loopholes within the system while simultaneously milking the public out of their hard-earned money. With the California State Athletic Commission essentially playing wing man in attempts to defraud the public by working with the fight promoter in their efforts to blur the lines of legality, a spotlight is shined on the athletic commission’s own role in the plague of impropriety saturating the combat sports industry today.
Where there is smoke, there is fire. And with the endless amount of confusion surrounding the exact circumstances and nature in which the Tyson vs. Jones showdown would operate under, one can be certain of one thing for sure; we’re not talking about a legitimate professional boxing contest. In fact, the Tyson vs. Jones exhibition resembles more of a cash grab than anything else.
A fact which highlights the dazed and confused nature in which the Tyson vs. Jones match even managed to come together in the first place according to a November 26, 2020 BoxingInsider.com article titled, “Ryan Kavanaugh, Co-owner of The Triller App, Sets The Record Straight On Tyson Vs. Jones Jr. “There Could Be a Knockout And There Will Be One Winner.” According to the report, “Know there have been some false rumors swirling, so to be clear,’ said Kavanaugh in a recent statement, ‘The WBC is scoring the fight. There could be a knockout and there will be one winner. Anyone who says there is no judging or no winner either does not understand the rules or has their own agenda. Unquestionably, 100 percent. DraftKings is the betting partner and is taking bets on the fight in New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Illinois. The only difference in the fight is the gloves are 12 ounces, there are eight rounds and the rounds are two minutes rather than three. That is it,” explained Kavanaugh.
“Kavanaugh needs to clarify,” writes the author Hans Themistode, “The rules between Tyson and Jones Jr. stem from Andy Foster, Executive Director of the California State Athletic Commission and his insistence on promoting Tyson vs. Jones Jr. as a safe sparring match,” notes Themistode.
“’Let’s call it an exhibition,’ explained Foster during an interview several months ago. ‘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,” the BoxingInsider.com report went on to explain.
“There’s no official judges,” said Foster. “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,” explained Foster.
Though with the Executive Director of the California State Athletic Commission making sure everyone knows this fight was purely for entertainment purposes, it’s interesting to note that the closer we got to fight night, the more the lines between fiction and reality increasingly became blurred.
According to a November 29, 2020 Chael Sonnen YouTube video titled, “Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Here’s What Happened,” the former multiple division UFC championship title contender reflected on Saturday night’s showdown between two of boxings most popular and legendary pugilists. “Alright, we got eight rounds,” explained Sonnen in coming clean with his original fears and suspicions coming into the fight. “Is this going to be one of these situations where as soon as it’s done and we all go, ‘What were we thinking? We’re so sorry. We’re sorry we allowed you two guys to do it. We’re sorry we told our friends to check it out. We’re sorry we Tweeted about it. We’re sorry, we should not have encouraged this at all,'” explained Sonnen. “Or, is it going to be something awesome?”
“Guys, it was the latter. It was awesome. Mike Tyson went out there and he was a bull. He was a bull in a China shop,” admitted Sonnen in great appreciation for the main event. “And he was pushing Roy around, he was walking him down. He was pushing him around; they spent a lot of time in the clinch. They spent more time clinched up then they spent in front of each other boxing. But Mike was pushing him around, and I’ll remind you what we learned at the weigh-in, which is Mike was 220. Same as he weighed in his prime. Pretty cool by the way; Roy was 210. They’re 10-pounds apart,” explained Sonnen.
“So, for Mike to push him around and big brother him the way that he did, he looked like a Mack truck versus a Volvo,” quipped Sonnen. “And understand they’re only 10-pounds apart. Don’t tell me Roy is a middleweight, tell me Roy’s a welterweight. They’re both heavyweights and only separated by 12-pounds, 10-pounds. Less weight than Fury versus Wilder were separated just by perspective. Mike did a good job. He was a big, strong guy that came out and tried to win a fight. The most meaningful punches that Mike landed were body shots,” reflected Sonnen looking back on the contest.
“I was more surprised at how many air balls Roy threw. I was wondering, ‘Did Roy spar for this fight?’ asked Sonnen. Because he did not understand range, the way that you’re use to Roy understanding. Now Roy did a good job, I’m just sharing with you if 90% of the 100% of air balls that he threw hit the back board, meaning Tyson; anywhere -- head, chest, neck, anywhere. Roy would have walked away with this fight but he was missing so many shots,” noted Sonnen.
“So, they go all eight rounds. And, believe this or not. If you didn’t see the fight, if you saw it, I think you’ll agree with me. If you didn’t see this, might be hard for you to believe. When the final bell rang after 8-rounds, you were disappointed that there wasn’t a 9th,” explained Sonnen. “And that is something that boxing can never say and that is something that none of us would have predicted going into this. None of us saw that the promoter was going to make this 8-rounds and thought that was a good idea,” admitted Sonnen.
“The reason they were on the ramp, I think you’ll think this is interesting,” explained Sonnen. “California State Athletic Commission, who… this took place in California, had some pretty clear decentives in place. They had an overarching theme that this is going to be an exhibition. Andy Foster defined that by coming out and saying, ‘They have boxing skills they are going to exhibit. It’s going to be a hard-sparring session. I’m going to disincentivize them from trying to win by telling you I’m not going to judge this and I’m not going to have an announcement of who the winner was,’” noted Sonnen.
“So, because he did that,” explained Sonnen, “Whatever the organization was and I think it was the WBA that was overseeing this, Andy Foster is in control of that ring period. Hard stop. No way around it. But he is not going to get in the way of your level of production. You’re allowed to come and do business within his state, he just wants it very clear that whatever happens in here that I sanction, that I oversee and ultimately comes back against my insurance policy, gonna be done my way. So, what they did, as production, is they took them from the ring in which Andy controlled; they moved them to the ramp. Andy’s got no problem with that; you can do anything you want as long as you’re not in this ring. And that is why they made the announcement there; they weren’t allowed to make it in the ring," explained Sonnen.
And by doing “business” with the California State Athletic Commission, that apparently translates into Andy Foster looking the other way if not outright contributing to defrauding the public by allowing games to be played with the legality of terms in how the production is presented to the general public in convincing them that an exhibition was in fact the genuine article. If the commission truly had the public's best interest at heart, they wouldn’t have allowed for a parallel universe to be created in the first place in playing games with the nuances associated with the legality behind how the production is broadcasted and presented to the public. The commission, traditionally charged with protecting the sanctity of the contest in the public’s interest, sleeping with the devil as they pull sleight of hand techniques like a seasoned street magician in laughing all the way to the bank at the publics expense.
“So, in one way,” Sonnen continued, “They tried to outsmart the athletic commission. On the other hand, Andy’s going, ‘No, no, no. You’re putting a show on. Go ahead and do your show. You guys announce it, you bring in Jim Gray. You pay Jim, Ray; you bring in your judges. These aren’t my guys, but if you want to tell the story the way that it is, you go right ahead.’ But that’s why they did that. So, they took it to the ramp as a way of bringing closure to the show,” explained Sonnen.
“And that was another win by the promoter. If these guys would have boxed and then just stood there like fools and we all walk away and we didn’t get a resolution to this up, down or sideways we would have been pissed,” admitted Sonnen of the 8-round decision that ended in a controversial draw. Which in the eyes of many was exactly that; a fight ending without a resolution. And with the promoter Ryan Kavanaugh having assured fans that here would in fact be a winner, the house likely made a killing in those selected states where bets were placed by those who were foolish enough to wager on anything else but a draw being the only true logical outcome of the contest. With the California State Athletic Commission riding shotgun from start to finish during the scheduled exhibition contest billed as a legitimate pugilistic showdown, the average fan gets a glimpse of the dark side of combat sports where the mechanisms of corruption are exposed to anyone brave enough to pull the curtain back on the impropriety in exposing the fraud from within.
“That was another win by the promoter,” Sonnen went on to explain. “He goes okay, ‘I’m just going to take them out of the ring. I’m going to put them up on the ramp, in which will not be sanctioned and I’m going to move on with my show.’ I thought it was a major win,” said Sonnen in wrapping up among his final thoughts on the contest. “Maybe there is a legends league," continued Sonnen. "Maybe its not all silly and we’re laughing. There was nothing funny about what Mike and Roy did. Mike and Roy told us before this fight, we are going to fight. And many other people told us they weren’t. Many people told us they were going to spar. Many people told us they were going to get a work out. They came out and they gave us their word they were going to fight. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. are honest men,” concluded Sonnen in giving his audience one final thought to think about.
Although the Tyson vs. Jones exhibition fight was less than ideal and decades late in coming to fruition, the fans were treated to something special Saturday night in watching two bonified legends of the sport compete in route to a much deserved pay day for two of boxings most elite champions and stars of all-time. With the convergence of boxing and the entertainment world of professional wrestling increasingly becoming common place, the corruptive elements of the combat sports industry are scarcely even trying to hide their impropriety anymore as the blatant circumvention of the checks and balances inherent to the system itself are collapsing under the weight of their own greed and deception by contributing to defrauding the public out of their hard earned dollars. With every element of the combat sports entertainment industry elbow deep in the cookie jar of corruption; from the state athletic commissions down to the lowly posers in the combat sports media; few are going to lay it out for you on a silver platter in the same manner as Bad Guy Inc. and the MMA Press Room have did in pointing out the back and forth circus act of misinformation surrounding Saturday night’s exhibition contest between "Iron" Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. points to a greater problem in combat sports where if there is smoke, there is fire.