Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr will face off in September – 17 years after they should have first met in the ring.
The pair were both boxing superstars but never fought in their prime, despite Jones Jr receiving an astonishing $40million (£33m) offer to take on the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’.
Mike Tyson was the most feared man on the planet for a generation
Jones Jr was infamously cheated out of a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and used that pain and rejection to forge one of the most successful boxing careers in history.
After starting his career at super-middleweight, he won world titles at four different weights and claimed WBA heavyweight strap when he outpointed John Ruiz in 2003.
In February of the same year, Tyson had returned to winning ways by destroying Clifford Etienne inside of one round to bounce back after being stopped by Lennox Lewis.
Iron Mike was nearing the end of his storied career and one last payday against the pound-for-pound king Jones beckoned.
But it never happened as Jones Jr declined the opportunity, believing he should have been paid more than the £33m offered, as Andre Ward recently explained.
Jones Jr went on to face face Antonio Tarver in a light-heavyweight title unification fight, taking home just a fraction of the purse money but feeling he would get an even more lucrative offer to face further Tyson down the line.
But, while Jones beat Tarver, he would go on to lose twice to the Orlando-native – who would later play the villain in ‘Rocky Balboa’ – and never got another shot at Tyson.
Roy Jones Jr claimed world titles in four weight classes – including heavyweight as he beat John Ruiz
Speaking to JRE Clips, Ward – himself a two-weight world champion – said: “There was a [Mike] Tyson fight on the table, and I believe I’m accurate when I say this it was somewhere around $40m guaranteed.
“There was an upside too. You stay at heavyweight, keep the weight on, and Tyson wasn’t quite Tyson at that time.
“He was still dangerous, but he wasn’t quite Tyson. I think they were working towards it. What I heard was Roy wanted more money.
“Roy somehow said, ‘No, the fight will be there down the road,’ and put his attention to Antonio Tarver, and the rest is history.
“I wanted to see him fight Tyson and ride off into the sunset. One more and you’re out.
“Roy could have had a full career, and rode off into the sunset, hunting and fishing, doing whatever he does, and still not been fundamentally sound.”
Tyson is now 51 while Jones Jr is 54 – but both are in incredible shape
There would be no fairytale ending to the career of either fighter as Tyson lost his last two fights to journeymen Danny Williams and Kevin McBride, while Jones Jr fought on until 2018 at the age of 49.
Now in their 50s, the pair seem happy and settled in their lives.
But they’ve been tempted back for the fight they should have had almost two decades, with an eight-round exhibition scheduled in California for September.
It is set to rake in a huge amount of money for both men. Maybe Jones Jr was right to hold out for more than $33m to face Tyson after all…