Jake Paul-Mike Tyson: Legitimate Event, Or Exhibition?

Jake Paul’s dreamlike participation in boxing has landed him the most significant living name in the sport with Thursday morning’s announcement that Mike Tyson and Paul will stage a “global live sports event” by boxing on Netflix July 20 at AT&T Stadium in Texas.

How much boxing life remains in Tyson, 58, remains to be seen.

What remains especially true is that Paul, 27, has manifested an amazing experience in the fight game from his younger days spent hosting a YouTube channel.

Certainly, this event will have bricks thrown at it by boxing purists. Will the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation even sanction it as a legitimate event, or will it be cast as an exhibition?

The way I see it, you’ve gotta hand it to the likeable kid from Cleveland who saw an opening into boxing that he could talk his way into, and hasn’t shut up since.

He’s called out Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, badly ruffled Ryan Garcia, beaten an aged Nate Diaz and flattened a who’s who of ex-jocks and “real boxers” who deserve the quotes around their title.

Now, he reunites with Tyson, whom Paul joined on their November 2020 card on which Tyson fought Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition and Paul scored a crushing, frightening knockout of ex-NBA player Nate Robinson.

Participating now as a cruiserweight, Paul (9-1) has a loss on his ledger via a decision defeat by Tyson Fury’s brother Tommy, but he’s rallied to score first-round knockouts of the obscure pro boxers Andre August and Ryan Bourland, whom he disposed of with a barrage of power punches Saturday night in Puerto Rico on a DAZN-streamed card.

The move to Netflix makes sense given its placement last year of his documentary, Untold: Jake Paul the Problem Child, on the platform.

“I’m stepping up to face Tyson to see if have what it takes to beat one of boxing’s most notorious fighters and biggest icons,” Paul said in a news release. “We’re about to produce the biggest fight in history, a fight in the biggest NFL stadium in the US, broadcast live, on the biggest streaming platform in the world – a testament to all we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. Whether you’re tuning in on Netflix or showing out in person, whether you’re Team Paul or Team Tyson, or whether you’re a lifelong boxing fan or watching your first fight, you’re not going to want to miss this event.”

What the bout will generate is certainly of interest given a near-prime Tyson’s ability to capture nearly two million buys for his knockout loss to Lennox Lewis – the bout that effectively marked his farewell from significant matches.

Of course, Tyson, who reigned as heavyweight champion from 1986 to 1990 and again in 1996, has remained a globally known figure thanks to his early onslaught of vicious knockouts, his merciless demeanor in those days and his resurrection from the nastiness of “The Bite Fight” in losing to Evander Holyfield to now standing as a beloved ambassador of the sport who often takes the stage at ringside and at weigh-ins of major bouts.

Now, because of the unique career trajectory of Paul, Tyson will experience the big crowd’s roar and the bright lights once again.

“I’m very much looking forward to stepping into the ring with Jake Paul,” Tyson said in the statement. “He’s grown significantly as a boxer over the years, so it will be a lot of fun to see what the will and ambition of a ‘kid’ can do with the experience and aptitude of a ‘GOAT’. It’s a full-circle moment that will be beyond thrilling to watch; as I started him on his boxing journey on the undercard of my fight with Roy Jones.

“Now I plan to finish him.”

Nakisa Bidarian, the co-founder of Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions, said he’s convinced the event will be a successful draw.

“Six generations of boxing fans will have a stake in the outcome and will be able to watch an anti-hero, Jake Paul, put it all on the line against the baddest man on the planet,” he said in the statement.

As Paul wisely calculated, the debate over who will win and why will certainly stir the masses into debate.

Tyson has appeared fit in recent years, both in his bout against Jones Jr., in men’s health videos and at his public appearances.

When they fought, Jones Jr. praised Tyson’s strength and power.

Reached Thursday morning by Boxing Scene while on an airplane, Jones Jr. was asked who will win the fight.

“Tyson,” he said simply.

He said this is happening because “Paul wants a big payday.”

Don’t we all?

But it’s Paul who’s pulled it off. In a few months, his ongoing dream experience in this sport will have him standing across the ring and exchanging leather with the one and only “Iron” Mike.

And while Jones Jr. gives voice to the many who see this as making a mockery of the sport by concluding Paul “can’t beat Mike, anyway”, Paul has beaten the doubters who refuse to even consider what can be realized with visualization and fierce determination.