Rules are rules, but the Jake Paul-Mike Tyson fight doesn’t have any quite yet


It has been circulated that Jake Paul and Mike Tyson, the two parties involved in the July 20 bout, had come together on some rules.

Be sure to check out my post on Deciphering the Tyson-Paul Showdown.

The Rumored Rules Explained

Along with everyone else, I had been anticipating an announcement of these rules, although, to be frank, I was anticipating them a little less than others because I had a pretty good idea where this would all end up.

What has been passed around is that the fight will:

  • Be conducted with 16-ounce gloves.
  • Have two-minute rounds.
  • Have no official judges doing scoring.

Sixteen-ounce gloves are not used in sanctioned, official professional bouts. Instead, they are used in sparring sessions. And that’s okay because it minimizes the chances of either fighter getting hurt.

Professional Standards and Exhibition Matches

Two-minute rounds are standard when professional women fight. And guess what? As a general rule, they don’t want that. They would prefer to go three minutes at a time for many reasons, including their desire to get paid better (whether that would work or not is questionable, but that’s another discussion). But for purposes of perspective, if this were the case in the Tyson-Paul (or Paul-Tyson, as it were), that would mean they aren’t interested in fighting professional rounds as they are established in the men’s divisions.

And if you are not fighting with judges, you have nothing if the bout goes the distance. No winner, no loser. Does that satisfy a crowd? Would that satisfy viewership on Netflix?

All of these factors more or less define an exhibition. As discussed in a previous story, anything can NOT happen when you have an exhibition if you pardon the expression. It could be a glorified sparring session, something with a pre-arrangement that no one will hit particularly hard.

The flip side is that it could be a fight in which the action is legitimate but will not be scored and will not go on an official fight-by-fight record.

In any scenario, there can be a winner if the fight ended in a knockout, TKO, or (and this is relevant, given Tyson’s past results) a disqualification. But again, if it’s an exhibition, it’s not “official.”

Okay, we’ve covered all that. Oh, except for the EEG and EKG Tyson would be required to take in Texas (the bout is scheduled for AT&T Stadium in Arlington). That was going to be required regardless because of Tyson’s age, so this would not be part of the rules package that is in question.

Betting Odds and Public Perception

Upon looking around, I see Paul as the favorite. At a couple of places, he’s -160, with Tyson at +130. But that may fluctuate significantly as we move ahead, perhaps presenting some “scalping” possibilities.

And by the way, while looking around, I noticed an interesting thing amidst all these reports about the rules, which were published in major media outlets and blog-type sources.

While I was able to find countless social media reports, memes, flashes, and quotes that went viral and were accepted as fact, what I have yet to see is any announcement by the two parties that matter – Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions (MVP) or the combative sports officials at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) –  which would affirm the “rules” that have been passed around.

Then, a couple of days ago, Nikasa Bidarian, the co-founder of Most Valuable Promotions, made his own video and called the reports of these rules “fake news.”

He also added that there are no tickets on sale because there have already been 85,000 people who registered to have access to tickets.

Let’s take those major points one at a time.

Based on my instinct, Bidarian is saying, in effect, that rules have not been settled upon, and any report indicating that rules had indeed been set would simply not be accurate. This is believable. But he didn’t say that these were NOT going to be the rules. I just don’t think they were ready to announce anything yet, OR they were not prepared to propose their rules to the Texas regulatory people. That could be an ongoing negotiation.

There’s another possibility, and this, once again, would be speculation. Maybe word leaked out as to what the rules were going to be, as a “trial balloon” of sorts. A promoter would do this to measure reaction while still maintaining distance from the story itself.

Jake Paul vs Mike Tyson

Exhibition vs. Official Fight: Strategic Considerations

And I can say that 16-ounce gloves, no judges, and two-minute rounds were not met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction. Remember that while viewers are not required to buy this via pay-per-view, they must be subscribers to Netflix. So, if they are not a customer already, they’re going to have to buy a subscription to get it.

To a certain percentage of the potential audience, whether this comes off as a “real” fight or not will make a difference. So I have to imagine that Netflix, as the platform, is somehow involved in this process.

Of course, this might also affect the potential live audience.

And now we get to the subject of tickets. When Bidarian talked about fans registering to buy tickets, he meant that on the Most Valuable Promotions website, there is a place where you can give them your name, email address, phone number, and what kind of tickets you’re interested in. You’ll be on a “pre-sale” list that would conceivably make you eligible to buy tickets 48 hours before they go on sale to the general public.

Do they have 85,000 people registered? Well, if Bidarian says they’re at that level, you can make that 85,000 plus one because I registered and put my name on the list.

I don’t want to doubt whether they have that many people on the list. I would never underestimate the effect of social media, especially when you have someone who knows how to do it right.

I haven’t done any heavy-duty research on this, but I have heard that there are musical artists who are so popular on social media that all they have to do is post a post or two, and that’s enough to sell out a stadium.

And make no mistake about it – Jake Paul has an actual promotional organization. He puts on his shows, and he’s even got other fighters signed to his promotional stable. Among them are Amanda Serrano (46-2-1), one of the great female fighters in the world and the Henry Armstrong of her era, recognizing her ability to move up and down weight divisions; and Ashton “H20:” Sylve, a 19-year-old lightweight with a lot of promise.

The usual group of boxing personalities is pushing the fight, unwittingly or not. Roy Jones Jr., who was the last man to step in the ring with Tyson (in an exhibition) expressed that he was glad the fight got “upgraded” (it has not) and that “When I boxed him, he still punched like Mike Tyson.” Well, Jones never got hit when the guy WAS Mike Tyson. But as they say in boxing, when you get older, you still retain power.

As much as there is some posturing about conducting this as a “real” fight, one of the things that convinced me they were aiming for an exhibition is that they did not target an ultra-permissive jurisdiction—one that will accede to their wishes with few questions asked.

Let me expand on that. When looking at athletic commissions, they don’t all operate under the same standards. My experience is that some offer much more “convenience” than others. What you might not get away with in a place like New York – like using a 58-year-old in an “official” fight – you could probably get rubbed stamped relatively quickly in a state like, say, Wyoming or Kansas or even the Carolinas. They are enamored with the revenue. They are all about commerce. They are starved for significant events. They will roll over if you ask them to.

If Jake Paul and Mike Tyson wanted a “real” fight so badly, why wouldn’t they just go to a place like that? Maybe a locale that is lenient AND has a stadium that hosts, say, college football could seat many people who might be starved for a big event. You could probably figure out a few places like that on your own.

Ultimately, Texas is not the loosest commission, but it isn’t the strictest either. I will give them what they were looking for from the outset.

One of the wittier items within this whole period of hype was offered by KSI, Britain’s answer to Jake Paul, who engages in fights on DAZN that are not any purist’s cup of tea.

Concluding Thoughts and Humor

In an April Fool’s prank, KSI made up a mock poster that had him fighting George Foreman on Netflix. The tags – “No judges, 5-second rounds, 150-oz. gloves, no KO’s, no punching allowed.”

Let’s hope THOSE aren’t the rules Tyson and Paul eventually agree upon.