Who had the better career between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr?
By Gavin Howie: Later tonight, there will be an exhibition fight where 2 genuine legends, albeit past their prime, will face each other in a scheduled eight-round fight. Whether or not this fight should be taking place is 1 thing, but I would like to explore who actually had the better career of these two Hall of Famers.
Roy Jones Jr ended his career with a record of 75 fights, 66 wins, and 9 losses. His last fight was only in 2018, and he won his last 4 bouts before retiring.
Mike Tyson finished with a record of 58 fights, 50 wins, 6 losses, and 2 no contests. In comparison, he lost his last 2 fights by ko and last fought 15 years ago, way back in 2005.
Mike Tyson campaigned at heavyweight his full career and, at just 20 years old, became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. In addition to being the youngest champion in history, he was also the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles. He had a career spanning 20 years, having his first professional fight in 1985.
The biggest wins on his record include Larry Holmes, Trevor Berbick, James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith, Tony ‘TNT’ Tucker, Michael Spinks, Donovan Ruddock, and Frank Bruno.
In my opinion, there are no genuine heavyweight greats on his record, other than a well past his prime Larry Holmes, who at 38 years of age was coming out of a 2-year retirement as well as having lost his last 2 fights.
Following one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history at the 1988 Summer Olympics, where Roy Jones Jr was denied a clear victory in the final, only to be given a silver medal instead, he then decided to turn professional and made his debut in 1989 as a Middleweight.
His first title at Middleweight was in 1993 when he defeated the future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins by a unanimous decision to capture the IBF belt.
After just another 4 fights at Middleweight, he moved up to Super Middleweight to dethrone James Toney of his IBF title, winning by a very wide unanimous decision in what was his very first fight in this weight division.
He made several defences before moving up to Light Heavyweight in 1996 to beat Mike McCallum for the interim WBC title. This was upgraded to the full title shortly after. A DQ loss to Montell Griffin in his first defence was quickly avenged with a 1st round KO in the rematch.
He would go on to win the WBA and IBF titles at Light Heavyweight and was considered by many as the p4p no1 in the world for a number of years.
In 2003 Jones Jr moved up to Heavyweight to win the WBA title after defeating John Ruiz by unanimous decision and become the first former Middleweight world champion to win a heavyweight world title in 106 years.
Tyson’s peak years were undoubtedly between 1985 – 1989 when he was simply a wrecking machine. The death of his trainer and father figure in Cus D’amato, along with his well documented out the ring issues, certainly had a major impact on what he may have gone on to achieve in his career.
It is up for debate as to what else he may have achieved in his career but going on the hard facts, then Tyson lost and lost convincingly when he faced the best of his era in Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield.
If Jones Jr had retired after winning the Heavyweight title in 2003 with only 1 avenged DQ loss on his record, then I strongly believe he would be very high, if not at the top of the greatest of all-time list. Instead, he chose to carry on for another 15 years, firstly moving back down 2 divisions to face Antonio Tarver and win a close majority decision.
In the rematch that followed, he was knocked out for the first time in his career. He went on to suffer several more bad KO losses as his once cat-like reflexes were completely gone. He was well past his best at this point, and as a result, these losses have certainly dented his legacy.
The question is, who had the better career? Tyson’s peak was short-lived but in these short years, he was literally indestructible. Jones Jr had a far longer spell at his peak and beat the best of his era but just continued on far too long.
They both won major titles, both made good money, and both suffered some losses they may not have had at their peak. They will both go down as legends of the fight game, but who had the better career?
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