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Boxing/UFC

Mike Tyson and Henry Cejudo mix it up in AEW pro wrestling brawl with Chris Jericho

While most of the world expected Mike Tyson’s comeback in combat sports to happen in boxing, or even bare-knuckle fighting, it appears his first stop is in a different kind of ring. And he apparently has some backup.

Tyson was involved in a storyline segment at the end of All Elite Wrestling’s Dynamite show Wednesday night, which aired on TNT. He faced off with wrestling legend Chris Jericho on the live show in Jacksonville, Florida, in a continuation of a story that started 10 years ago in WWE.

Tyson, 53, has gotten himself back into fighting shape and reports are that he is considering some kind of return to combat sports. Names including Tyson Fury, Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva have said they have been approached about competing against Tyson in some form of fighting.

In the AEW segment, Tyson walked to the ring flanked by several big names from the MMA world, most notably former UFC two-division champion Henry Cejudo.

.@IAmJericho wanted @MikeTyson. He got him AND @vitorbelfort AND @HenryCejudo AND A WHOLE LOTTA TROUBLE 😱 #AEWDynamite pic.twitter.com/iqvEnqx9Nb

— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) May 28, 2020

Two days ago, the UFC announced that Cejudo was considered retired and his bantamweight title was vacated. Cejudo was involved on Tyson’s side in the storyline brawl against Jericho’s faction. With Tyson and Cejudo on Wednesday were UFC Hall of Famer Rashad Evans and MMA legend Vitor Belfort, who is currently on the ONE Championship roster.

Cejudo, 33, successfully defended the UFC bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz on May 9 in Jacksonville and announced his retirement in MMA in his postfight interview. He has been coy about his future beyond fighting, and many have speculated he’s angling to get a bigger contract from the UFC. Cejudo intimated in a message to ESPN on Wednesday night that he is not currently signed with AEW but is not ruling out the possibility.

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Tyson is a longtime friend of AEW president Tony Khan, whose family owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tyson appeared Saturday night at AEW’s Double of Nothing pay-per-view event, awarding the new AEW TNT championship belt to title winner Cody Rhodes.

“Special moment to have Mike there for so many reasons,” Rhodes said Saturday. “Just surreal. That’s the best way to really describe it.”

Belfort was also at Double or Nothing, seated next to American Top Team gym owner Dan Lambert. Cejudo, too, was in attendance on Saturday night but was not shown on screen.

Sports report

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Boxing/UFC

Mike Tyson is a boxing legend … of the past, not today

May 22, 2020

Steve KimESPN

Mike Tyson is throwing rapid-fire combinations, showing off speed and accuracy with every mesmerizing punch. The former world heavyweight champion hits the pads, and his trainer smiles as he ducks out of the way of Tyson’s final shot. In these nine seconds of video, Tyson looks like a fighter in his prime. The “Bad Boys for Life”-sponsored tweet quickly goes viral, and with that comes talk of a return for “Iron Mike.”

In the wake of that buzz, former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who defeated Tyson twice, announces his own intention to return to the squared circle for a charity event.

Tyson is 53 years old. Holyfield is 57. Stop the madness.

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Instead of a renewed focus on Tyson and Holyfield, all eyes should be on the current generation of heavyweight greats — Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder. Or middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, arguably the biggest draw in the U.S. Or current champions Vasiliy Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., Jermell and Jermall Charlo. Or young stars such as Teofimo Lopez Jr., Ryan Garcia, Shakur Stevenson, Naoya Inoue and Devin Haney.

Those are the faces of boxing in 2020 — the ones who put on a show each time they step into the ring. While the attention for the sport is nice, it’s time to stop putting the future of boxing in the hands of stars from the past.

Nostalgia is boxing’s addiction. We yearn for the iconic moments from greats like Muhammad Ali. We remember the fights that defined a childhood or were part of a night spent together with friends. We understand that the sport was different back then. Not so much in the actual physicality of it, but the fighters — the characters — who were engaging and held influence far beyond the ring.

Tyson was one of the most well-known figures in the world; he was polarizing, too, with his dominance striking envy into many of his would-be competitors. And Tyson spent three years in prison from 1992 to 1995 after being convicted of rape.

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1:14

Rafael Cordeiro marvels at the idea of Mike Tyson making a return to the heavyweight division even at 53 years old.

In recent years, Tyson has emerged as a friendlier figure in pop culture, appearing in movies and hosting his own podcast. But at his core, he will always be a fighter. And for fans, it seems they want to believe there are remnants of 1988 Tyson. But if you really want to see Tyson at his best, ESPN is showing nine of his greatest fights on Saturday starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. That’s a better option.

Think about this: The country collectively enjoyed “The Last Dance,” a documentary about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls’ championship season. But we don’t see basketball fans pining for the return of Jordan to the NBA every time he heads into a gym to shoot free throws. Instead, there is an appreciation of what he was, and what he stood for.

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Tyson was similarly dominant. The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world was called “the baddest man on the planet.” But that was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. You could argue that Tyson hasn’t been that guy since he was upset by James “Buster” Douglas over 30 years ago.

Tyson and Holyfield are boxing legends whose contributions to the sport are immeasurable. But we have to be realistic. Boxing is a sport dominated by young men in their physical prime — not middle-aged ones who long ago were at the top of the boxing world. And that’s saying nothing about the damage these fighters have already taken, and the risks of putting them back into the ring — even if it’s just for charity and entertainment.

Still, if any of these iconic fighters were to return, we’d all be at least a tad curious. And yes, most of us would watch.

The video of Tyson’s “training” has been viewed 9.5 million times. It’s built up enough hype that offers — including $20 million from the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship — have come Tyson’s way. But money hasn’t swayed the former champion just yet.

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John Fury, Tyson’s father, calls out Mike Tyson in a fight for charity.

Assuming the money talks, whom would Tyson fight? Former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs, a relative youngster by comparison at the age of 48, says Tyson has received “tons of offers” and “some offers involving me.” There’s also 51-year-old James Toney, who has stated his own intentions to get into the mix.

Even John Fury, who named his son, current WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, after Mike, issued a challenge.

It wouldn’t be the first time boxing made way for a blatant, lucrative money grab, and it wouldn’t be the last. But there’s only so much spotlight to go around, and before boxing ground to a halt over the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic, a handful of stars had started to make waves.

On June 9 in Las Vegas, boxing will return, and when it does, the sport will need its breakout stars to make a massive impact right out of the gate. They’ve earned that opportunity, and the long-term viability of boxing will rest in their hands — not in the hands of two legends who are at least two decades past their prime.

Sports report

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Boxing/UFC

Boxing’s ‘Tiger King,’ Mike Tyson, says he was wrong to own tigers

As the world acquaints itself with Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” the Oklahoman “Tiger King” made famous by a recently released Netflix documentary, former heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson has admitted he was “wrong” for keeping two tigers at his Las Vegas residence years ago.

Tyson, 53, said that although he used to go so far as to sleep with his tigers, he has since realized he never should have tried to “domesticate” them. He no longer owns the animals.

“I was foolish,” said Tyson, on an Instagram Live with Fat Joe. “There’s no way you can domesticate these cats 100 percent. No way that’s going to happen. They’ll kill you by accident, especially when you’re playing rough with them, you’re punching them back. They get hyped up, hit you back and you’re dead.

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“I’m just happy I educated myself. I was doing the wrong s—. I shouldn’t have had them in my house, believing they were domesticated. I was wrong.”

Tyson said he actually came into possession of two tiger cubs while serving a prison sentence. An acquaintance informed him of the opportunity to legally buy big cats, and Tyson, who was involved in some of the highest-grossing boxing matches of the 1990s, took him up on the idea.

“I was talking to one of my friends who I bought cars from, and he was saying one of my friends owed him money,” Tyson said. “He said, ‘If he doesn’t pay, I’m going to take some of these cars and trade them in for animals,’ and I said, ‘What kind of animals?’ He said, ‘Horses and stuff.’ And he said, ‘They have some nice tigers and lions, too. If you got one of those, that would be cool in your Ferrari.’ I said, ‘That’s true. Why don’t you order me a couple and I’ll be getting out in a couple months.’

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“So, when I got out, I came home and I had two cubs.”

Tyson went on to share a story of one of the tigers attacking a female trespasser, and him paying her $250,000 “when [he] saw what the tiger did to her hand.”

Tyson’s tigers were even made into a major plot point in the 2009 movie “The Hangover,” in which the main characters steal one of his tigers and are forced to return it.

Netflix’s seven-part documentary has been the source of thousands of memes on social media since its release this year. The film’s subject, Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a federal prison sentence on two counts of murder for hire.

Sports report