Hype or Hope: Deciphering the Tyson-Paul Showdown



More than three decades ago, at some point after I had been a matchmaker in boxing, I opened up a public relations business with a friend of mine, through which we covered some of the local fight scene. One of our clients was a surgeon who had decided that he wanted to be a professional boxer. 

He’d had a number of pro fights when he was scheduled to box a three-round exhibition against Roberto Duran. This was probably the answer to a dream for him, and there was no containing his excitement. 

This excitement was also absorbed by my partner, who was handling his account. He had gotten the doctor a lot of coverage in the local press and was “drinking the Kool-Aid,” so to speak. He was positively working himself into a frenzy.. 

And the doctor was inviting all his friends from out of town to see “my big fight with Roberto Duran.” Of course, a promoter’s mentality is that if he can sell some tickets with it, why not go with the flow?

But this was getting silly enough to where I had to sit my partner down. “Listen to me,” I said. “I love the guy to death, but I need for you to understand something very important. This is an exhibition. NOTHING is going to happen here.” 

That didn’t sway my partner; not a bit. It all came down to who he wanted to listen to – me or the client. He made the decision to listen to the client. 

I didn’t make any more of an issue over it. Ultimately I didn’t feel I was going to have to.

And so now, here we were on the night of the show, and they actually held this exhibition as the final event of the evening – a “main event,” if you will. I stood next to my partner behind the ringside seats in the spacious ballroom. 

He was nervous. That kind of amused me..

Tyson vs paul
Jake Paul agrees to Mike Tyson’s fight proposal, believing a match with the legendary boxer, who is 30 years his senior, could set pay-per-view records.

The bell rang and the two guys moved around each other. Then Duran, who was considerably out of shape, threw what could most appropriately be described as a VERY lazy left jab to the mid-section; essentially to the point where it was like a range-finder. 

And upon that happening, the doctor doubled over and backed into the ropes. 

I believe at this point Duran got a little worried, and may have concluded that if he made contact with the guy at all, he might hurt him. 

And so for the rest of the three rounds, not a punch was thrown. It didn’t even rise to the level of a light sparring session. 

I looked over to my partner from time to time during all this, and he was getting increasingly agitated. By the time the final bell rang, he was completely disgusted. He felt he had been duped. He muttered something, laced with expletives, about the client. And then he stormed toward the ballroom exit. I followed him for a few seconds, then stopped, with the parting words “But I TOLD you nothing was going to happen.” 

Suffice it to say that he didn’t want to have anything to do with the client again. That was the wrong position for him to take, but let’s just say we were lucky that we had a third man in the office who could handle the account. 

The point of my long-winded intro may be to caution potential viewers that the upcoming Mike Tyson-Jake Paul bout that is slated to take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX (outside Dallas) on July 20 may be one of those instances where “nothing is going to happen.” 

Seriously, we don’t know whether there is going to be a whole lot of “nothing” or not. 

What we DO know is that there are a few sportsbooks that have issued odds on the fight, although several have taken the numbers down, since, well, they don’t know enough about it yet. 

Paul, who is 9-1 and the 13th-ranked cruiserweight in the United States by Boxrec, which has been designated by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) as its official source for fighter records, is a favorite, and was as high as -500 in one venue, but then that figure came down. We didn’t dig and dig and dig, because we’re not “plugging” any place in particular, but we did see that in one outlet Paul was -210 and Tyson +160, with the requirement that it “has to be scheduled for eight rounds.” At another, it’s a little tighter (Paul -200, Tyson +165) with the proviso that “an official result must be declared.”

That’s a key phrase, because it offers some protection for the sportsbook. After all, what are people going to be wagering on exactly?

It was asserted by Nakisa Badarian, the CEO of Most Valuable Promotions (Jake Paul’s company) that the fighters are NOT going to be wearing headgear. That was in response to a suggestion claimed by some people in social media; people who didn’t have any official connection to this event. 

Some of the other stuff is, to this point, a mystery.

For instance:

— We don’t know yet how many rounds this is scheduled for.

— We don’t know if there is an agreed-upon weight. Tyson was 233 pounds for his last fight, a loss to Kevin McBride in 2005. When he fought Lennox Lewis in 2002, he was 234. He has talked about how he lost a hundred pounds before he fought Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition in 2020, implementing a vegan diet, He’s since gotten off the vegan diet. But you know, Jake Paul has never reached 200 on the scales for a fight. So will Tyson have to come down in weight, and if so, how much?

— We don’t know what the size of the gloves is going to be. If they are using 16-ounce gloves, that’s a whole different ballgame than ten-ounce gloves, for example. 

— We still don’t know whether this is an exhibition, or, to use simple English, a “real” fight.  This is not just a matter of semantics. 

Tyson ranks among the most celebrated boxers in the sport’s history.

If it’s a real fight, it will appear on the contestants’ official records. If it’s a real fight, there is a greater likelihood that someone can get knocked out, because the implication is that both fighters would be going “full throttle.” If it’s a real fight, and anything looks like it has been pre-arranged, there will be an investigative procedure that can lead to real penalties. And if it’s a real fight, there are also going to be judges. 

That means there wil be an “official” result, as we go back to the notation that the above-referenced sportsbook odds made sure was attached.

I noticed that some of the online sportsbooks got caught with their pants down in previous “fights” that turned out to be exhibitions, namely Tyson’s tilt with Jones in 2020 and the Floyd Mayweather appearance in Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium against Jake Paul’s brother Logan in 2021. They offered plenty of props based on there being an official “winner” and “loser” and / or whether there would be a knockout or decision. 

Because they were exhibitions, they were not officially judged by the respective athletic commissions (California, Florida) and it made a lot of those props moot. In the case of the Tyson-Jones bout, there was an unofficial judges’ panel of former light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson, former multi-division champ Vinny Pazienza and ex-women’s champ Christy Martin. But it held no weight with the commission (by the way, they came up with a “draw”). 

Reportedly both camps are trying to get this fight sanctioned as an actual fight, rather than an exhibition. In the process, they feel they might largely eliminate the reasonable doubt as to whether it’s legitimate. Invariably such a thing is bound to have some impact on the viewership they’ll get via Netflix, which is the platform where the match will be seen.

The Texas commission, officially the TDLR (Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation) Texas Combative Sports Program, does indeed make allowances for exhibitions. But regardless of whether it is an exhibition or not, they are still in a regulatory position. 

They do not have a maximum age past which one can not compete, at least from what I have seen in their rules and regulations, but that does not mean they will just roll over, even for Mike Tyson and the sizable amount of fees they can realize from a fight that is bound to draw a lot of people. 

There is an application process, and that will include some medical examinations and tests. They require tests for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, as well as an eye exam. 

Also, in their own words…..

“Contestants who are age 36 or older, must submit a report of favorable physical testing including, but not limited to, an EEG (electroencephalography), and an EKG (electrocardiogram).”

There is also a “Criminal History Questionnaire,” which Tyson, who has been convicted of rape, will be compelled to answer. One of the spaces requires an answer to the following:

“Give a detailed description of your actions and why you made those decisions; do not simply restate the name of your offense”

The answer to the  “why you made those decisions” part of that inquiry would be interesting to see.

Tyson may in fact be passed as a genuine competitor, but that would not be the case everywhere. 

Larry Goldberg of Boxing Insider Promotions, the most active promoter in New York, was recently quoted in the New York Daily News as saying that one would never see a bout like this in the Empire State.

“I couldn’t present this to the New York State Athletic Commission,” Goldberg said. “The doctors would never sign off on it. We couldn’t even suggest something like that here.” 

For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume these fighters are successful in getting things pushed through, “for real.” 

We’re not sure yet what their deal with Netflix is. But they are there for a reason. Netflix reports over 260 million active, paid subscribers, and they are making their move into live sports. Of course, one could argue whether the WWE is part of “sports,” but they have a ten-year, $5 billion deal with the wrestling organization, and the UFC (which the WWE merged with) may not be far behind. Netflix has also done a live tennis match and a golf match, and there is more in the way of sports they are considering. 

They’ve done a lot of with documentaries about NASCAR, Formula 1 and the PGA Tour. Generally they seek out content that has longer watchable shelf life, but this was apparently too big a spectacle for them to pass up. Tyson still has clout long after his retirement; his 2020 exhibition with Jones drew 1.6 million pay per view buys, at least as it was reported by Triller, the carrier.

It was confirmed by R. Thomas Ulmstead, a top reporter for Multichannel News, a leader in coverage of the television world, that this event will be made available to Netflix subscribers, and those who sign up as new customers with Netflix, for no additional charge. So rather than a pay-per-view, they are following a similar model to what HBO and Showtime have done with boxing, and Netflix has done with the original movies and TV shows it finances and produces. That is, they are hoping that the fight will be enough of a draw to recruit new paid signups for their streaming service. 

Naturally there are quite a few skeptics. Dana White, the CEO of the UFC, says, “I love Mike Tyson personally as a friend, and he’s one of my favorite athletes of all time. I don’t know. Let’s see what he can go in there and put together a training camp and come in. I don’t like to see guys fighting at (that age). It’d be a 31-year age difference during that fight. You guys know what I think of that stuff.”

He’s worried about Tyson. Of course, anyone who’s followed White knows he’s no fan of Paul.

But I’m not going to disparage Jake’s efforts. I’ve gone on record about this. During my time in boxing I worked with a number of prospects.  If I was dealing with someone who I felt had some possibilities, I was wary about putting him in with an opponent I didn’t know, or failing that, was not known by anyone whose opinion I trusted. Paul has done that on several occasions. 

And it wasn’t everyday that a guy fought a scheduled eight-rounder as early as his third pro fight. In ten pro bouts, Jake Paul has gone eight full rounds three times and ten rounds once (against Nate Diaz). That’s heady stuff for any fighter, much less one who has no amateur background to speak of. 

I respect the fact that he takes the sport seriously and goes through the process of training on a regular basis, rather than treat it as folly.

That having been said, many people who I know in the industry believe that given the opportunity to cut loose, Tyson could take Paul out in short order. But if he is unable to do that, stamina would become a factor. There are short clips of Tyson working the pads circulating around the internet. He looks in shape, but those clips don’t run too long. As such, questions would naturally be raised about how far he go at full speed against an active fighter who is 31 years his junior. It’s obvious that there are some, like White, who don’t think he’ll be able to do it at age 58 (which he’d be on the night of the fight). 

So it would be fair to say that both Jake Paul and Mike Tyson will be looking to confound expectations.

Which Fighter Holds the Edge in the Upcoming Mike Tyson vs. Jake Paul Match?

As we delve into the realm of sports wagering for the anticipated clash between Jake Paul and Mike Tyson, it’s notable that official betting lines from regulated bookmakers remain unpublished. However, insights from the world of offshore betting platforms reveal intriguing prospects. Paul is the preferred contender at odds of -225, positioning Tyson as the +170 outsider.

The betting landscape has seen a noteworthy adjustment in favor of Tyson within just a day of the odds being released. Initially, Paul was significantly favored with odds of -500.

Reflecting on Paul’s recent bout against UFC legend Nate Diaz, it’s evident that his status as a favored competitor isn’t new; several bookies similarly pegged him at -500 prior to that fight.