Roy Jones Jr.’s ears must be burning, as his manager has announced he is taking out an insurance policy before the fighter’s bout against ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson on September 12 to prevent exactly that happening.
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Jones Jr.’s Russian manager Zsolt Barna is anticipating a repeat of Tyson’s ill-tempered and ill-fated 1997 rematch against all-time great Evander Holyfield in which the ‘baddest man on the planet’ bit chunks from each of Holyfield’s ears.
In a statement, Barna says he deems it necessary to insure against a “possible extraordinary case” of Tyson damaging Jones Jr.’s lugholes by means outside the Marquess of Queensberry rules of boxing in their upcoming matchup.
After being battered in their first meeting in 1996, in which Tyson lost his WBA heavyweight title by 11th-round TKO, Tyson gnawed pieces from both of Holyfield’s ears in the return fight a year later, allegedly in retaliation to head-butting by the new champion.
The end of the fight came as a 3rd round disqualification for Tyson, but the ructions from the chaos in the ring caused riots in the MGM Grand fight venue in Las Vegas, after which the unrepentant Brooklynite ultimately had his fight license rescinded and incurred a $3 million fine.
Holyfield and Tyson have since become good friends, and were even mooted to be facing each other in a third instalment of their rivalry after news of Tyson’s imminent comeback broke.
According to the general consensus among most fans, it might turn out that insuring his ears is the least of Jones Jr.’s worries, as Tyson has already reiterated his intentions to knock RJJ out despite the match being intended to be a showcase of the fighters’ now-eroded skill sets.
The two legends of the glittering 1980s and 1990s boxing eras will meet in a so-called exhibition, after 54-year-old Tyson announced in July he would return to the ring after months of speculation and seemingly almost every name in the combat sports world throwing their hat into the proverbial ring.
Fifty-one-year-old Jones Jr. has participated in an exhibition once before, taking on social media competition winner Vyron Phillips, although the veteran boxer failed to adhere to the ‘friendly fight’ atmosphere and halted proceedings with a second round technical knockout.
The Florida native was named the best boxer of the 1990s after a decade in which he captured the IBF middleweight and super middleweight titles and became the undisputed light heavyweight champion, in that time topping numerous pound for pound charts.
However, in the last decade or so the former champ, the magic he once possessed in the ring now a distant faded memory, has become a cruiserweight gatekeeper and journeyman with many fans stopping just short of imploring Jones Jr. to hang up the gloves for good after a handful of sickening knockouts to lesser fighters. His record currently stands at 66 wins and 9 losses.
Tyson achieved stratospheric fame as a teenage knockout machine in the mid-80’s, earning him the nickname ‘Kid Dynamite’ and becoming the youngest ever winner of a world heavyweight championship when he breezed through WBC champion Trevor Berbick aged just 20 years 4 months, a record that still stands to this day.
After going on to unify the division, Tyson perhaps spent his peak years in jail when he was convicted and caged for the rape of former beauty queen Desiree Washington in 1992, serving three-an-a-half years in an Indiana correctional facility.
Despite the large hiatus in his career, Tyson went on to win the WBC and WBA titles, before meeting with Holyfield after a long-awaited matchup. Jones Jr. also held the WBA heavyweight title for a period in 2003 when moved up two divisions to produce a masterclass to dethrone champion John Ruiz.
Jones Jr. has since set up boxing schools across Russia and received a Russian passport from president Vladimir Putin back in 2015 in order to make entering and conducting business in the country a little simpler.
After WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev successfully defended his title against Anthony Yarde in his Chelyabinsk hometown last August, guest of honour Jones Jr. told RT Sport he “feels very Russian” and considers himself a fully-fledged citizen of the country.