Chris Eubank Jr has been helping Jones prepare for Saturday’s fight and says he is taking the exhibition bout ‘very, very seriously’
Chris Eubank Jr has ridiculed the bizarre ‘no knockout’ rule in Mike Tyson’s return to the ring in an eight-round exhibition bout against fellow American boxer Roy Jones Jr in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Eubank has been in camp with Jones helping the 51-year-old prepare for the contest, having spent eight months of lockdown learning from the great fighter once regarded as the best all round boxer on the planet. He has even been aping Tyson’s bobbing, weaving style for the Floridian this week in a gym on the outskirts of LA.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Eubank debunked the instigation by the California State Athletic Commission of the rule. “No knockouts is an impossible thing to implement or to say because this is a fight. They’re punching each other in the head. What if somebody gets hit and they go down? It doesn’t make sense. It’s more of a publicity thing, they have to say that because it is an exhibition.”
Eubank, who was training in Las Vegas but was invited to Jones’ Florida ranch in March when the coronavirus pandemic took its grip, explained that Jones has transformed his views and fundamentals in boxing, but the 31-year-old has been a helpful cohort in camp in preparation for 54-year-old Tyson, who once left a destructive trail of fallen heavyweight fighters in his wake with a life force of frightening intensity.
“We’re in LA right now, in the bubble. There’s a gym outside the city we travel to every day,” Eubank, who hopes to be in the corner on Saturday, explained to Telegraph Sport.”Yesterday I was in the ring with him. Not punching but just head movement. Coming forth, letting him move around me, grab him. Clinching — because that’s what we believe Mike will try to do. Use that presence and weight to try and bully Roy.
“Just getting used to that movement and moving around a come-forward fighter. Clinching and holding, which we think Tyson will use as a tactic. It’s just going to be amazing and exciting how this fight really unfolds. Nobody really knows for sure how this fight is going to look and feel and how they’re going to perform. That’s why it’s so exciting because it’s like what the hell is about to happen?”
Eubank insisted that Jones – like Tyson – means business in the ring, in spite of the derision it has received in some quarters. “Absolutely Roy has taken this very, very seriously. There’s just no way he could take this lightly – even if he wanted to. It’s Mike Tyson. The world is going to be watching and Roy’s a proud man. He’s been on it. He’s been working through the pain barrier that comes with going into a camp at 51 years old. He’s not going through this for nothing.
“We went to Pittsburgh last week in the middle of nowhere. There’s this little gym in the middle of the forest. It’s cold and there’s nothing to do and he’s there. Training everyday. It wasn’t fun, I mean it wasn’t for me. I know Roy actually enjoys being isolated and having no distractions. But he was away from his wife and family. Everything he’s done over the last few months is not for nothing. He’s taking this very seriously and I’m sure so is Mike.”
Elsewhere, Badou Jack, the two weight world champion at supermiddleweight and light heavyweight who defeated George Groves and drew with James DeGale and is chief support on the card against the unbeaten Blake McKernan, told The Daily Telegraph this week: “Mike Tyson reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be the co-main event. I was pretty shocked that they were going to fight. I’m doing this for my charity. That’s what it’s all about.
“But I’m honoured and happy to be a part of Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones, they were both great heroes to me growing up. As for it being an exhibition ? I don’t really think Mike can take it easy. And Roy Jones is one of the greatest ever. He’s got pride so he isn’t going to lay down. I’m excited. I know both guys and I hope nobody gets hurt.”
As Eubank said: “It’s going to be explosive. But how long can Mike Tyson last? It’s well documented he does smoke (marijuana). That’s not going to help his stamina. You can’t smoke and then go eight rounds with anybody let alone Roy Jones. That’s why I think it’ll come down to the first of couple of rounds.
“I do think Mike will be ferocious in those first few rounds. It’s just whether Roy can weather that storm and then dominate in the later rounds. That’s going to be the deciding factor in this fight. Mike could get stopped or he could just give up. He’s done that before.”
And one of Tyson’s great rivals, Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight champion, will be commentating on the event. “It should be interesting. Roy Jones is quick and looks in terrific shape. He’s ripped. I know he’s not going to stay there in close quarters with the most powerful man out there. Mike Tyson still has his power, still has the mechanism, still knows how to move so it’s going to be interesting.”
Could this herald a comeback from Lewis any time soon? “No, I’m happy commentating,” the 55-year-old said.
Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr is live on BT Sport Box Office on Saturday night