Making the Rounds: Jones 'ready for war' vs. Tyson; Lomachenko-Lopez in doubt

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·Combat columnist
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A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.
A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.

Roy Jones Jr. signed for a light sparring match with Mike Tyson on Sept. 12 in Carson, California, but Jones is expecting far more than that.

Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, said the fight will be a sparring session with no judges and larger-than-normal gloves.

But Jones, who won titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight in a stellar career in which he was long regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, said he has to be prepared if Tyson decides not to lightly spar.

“It’s a sparring session, but you have to remember, I’m the small guy here,” Jones told Yahoo Sports. “Andy Foster can’t control Mike once Mike gets in the ring. I’ve got to defend myself like I’m in a real fight. If Mike goes out there and decides to start hammering, what am I supposed to do, look at Andy?

“Hell no! I’ve got to defend myself and get back in it. I have heard what Andy Foster said, but I also know what Mike said and I can’t depend upon Andy Foster when I am in the ring with Mike. You hear me? I have to get myself ready for whatever Mike may bring. I have to be ready for war.”

Jones, 51, has been plagued by knee pain and isn’t nearly as mobile as he was in his prime, which is why he hasn’t been interested in comeback offers that have been presented to him.

 American former professional boxer Roy Jones Jr
Roy Jones Jr. is readying for his bout against Tyson. (Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images)

Jones said he’s been approached about fighting since he retired after defeating Scott Sigmon on Feb. 8, 2018, but none of the offers have been significant enough to make him give up basketball.

“I have had [knee issues], but I have to tell you the truth,” Jones said. “There was never enough money on the table once I retired for me to come back and truly prepare like I needed to prepare. My knee only bothers me when I play basketball, but I love to play. Nobody was giving me an offer that would make me quit playing basketball.

“Now this fight, they made me the kind of offer that made sense. There is money involved in this fight so I quit playing basketball and I been working to be ready. My knees only hurt when I play basketball but I haven’t played in six weeks and they’re fine, now. The kind of money they were talking about, it was worth it to give up basketball.”

Jones said when the card was originally made, they planned on making several boxer versus MMA fighter bouts on the undercard. But Jones told Yahoo Sports that would make it appear like a “freak show” and he didn’t want that. Jones said they are going to make a boxing undercard. He said he is talking to Chris Eubank Jr. about fighting on it.

One thing he’s sure of, though, is that it will sell.

“People are going to be sitting at home with nothing on TV and nothing to do, and they hear Mike and Roy are fighting, what do you think they’re going to do?” Jones said. “Hell yeah, they’re going to watch. You wait and see. They’ll tune in.”

Lomachenko-Lopez in doubt

Top Rank will have three shows the rest of August, with one in the U.K. on Aug. 15 and then shows at the MGM Grand Conference Center on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29. Then, they’re scheduled every Saturday in September, and perhaps longer, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said.

But that series of shows may not include Teofimo Lopez. Top Rank had hoped to make Lopez vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko on Oct. 5 at the MGM for the lightweight title, but Arum said that Lopez has declined the contract offer.

He said Lopez’s representatives told him that the coronavirus pandemic isn’t Lopez’s fault and so he shouldn’t have to take less.

“The contract we offered them is already more than double his highest purse and they starting talking all this crazy stuff,” Arum said. “They were talking numbers based on a $3 million live gate and close circuit. It’s crazy! They’re saying, why should they be affected by the coronavirus?

“Loma has a contract and he’s already given us relief. He’s fighting for less than his contract says because he gets it. I’m not in the business to lose money. If they turn down a record contract for him, nothing I can do. On to the next.”

Arum said if Lopez can’t come to terms, they’ll look to pit Felix Verdejo against Lomachenko.

Fight Camp opens with a slugfest

Eddie Hearn’s “Fight Camp” got off to a rousing start Saturday with a highly entertaining super welterweight bout between Ted Cheeseman and Sam Eggington. Cheeseman won it by unanimous decision that Hearn called one of the best fights he’s ever seen live.

But according to The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger, the show averaged just 93,000 viewers on Sky Sports, though it peaked at 202,000.

Those are distressing numbers, particularly since boxing is generally far more popular in the U.K. than it is in the U.S. The fight streamed in the U.S. on DAZN, which does not share streaming figures.

But rest assured it came nowhere close to the 93,000 average who saw it on Sky. That’s not a good sign for boxing as it attempts to recover from the pandemic.

He said it

“This is search and destroy, and I’m looking forward to recapturing my glory,” Tyson said to TMZ, about the upcoming fight with Jones.

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