Boxing

Tyson-Paul fight sanctioned as professional bout. But many in boxing call it ‘exhibition.’

Tyson-Paul fight sanctioned as professional bout. But many in boxing call it 'exhibition.'

George Foreman called the fight between Mike Tyson and Jake Paul an exhibition, even after it was announced on Monday that the fight scheduled for July 20 in Texas has been sanctioned as a professional bout.

Unlike standard pro fights, the rules for the Tyson-Paul bout, set for eight rounds, call for two-minute rounds and 14-ounce gloves. Rounds are usually three minutes and gloves typically weigh 10 ounces.

“Purely an exhibition!” Foreman, the former heavyweight champion, told USA TODAY Sports by text message after the rules were announced Monday. “Great for each man; Tyson can’t get hurt and Paul can have a good night as well. Paul doing more for boxing than any mainstream contender.”

Teddy Atlas, a retired trainer who once worked with Tyson, told USA TODAY Sports that calling the fight a professional bout “is a bit inaccurate or a creative use of words.”

But Tyron Woodley, the former UFC champion who in crossover boxing matches lost to Paul by split-decision in 2021 and got knocked out in their rematch, said the designation of the fight is irrelevant.

“It was a real fight whether it was exhibition or not,” he said.

The modified rules were proposed by the promoter, Holden Boxing LLC, according to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which oversees combat sports in Texas. Other figures in the boxing world shared their thoughts with USA TODAY Sports by phone and text message.

Abel Sanchez, retired trainer

“Disappointed, all the hype leading up to it. That being said, I think it benefits Mike, but the luster of the unknown (anticipation) of what is left in Mike is diminished,” Sanchez said.

“All of it, might as well call it a glorified sparring session, and will fans pay to see a sparring session???”

(Tickets are expected to go on sale in May, and the fight will take place at 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium.)

Billy White, assistant trainer for Tyson

“It’s (Marquess de Queensbury Rules), yet no matter what the rules are, I always say you can throw all that out the window when two opponents climb between the ropes and the bell rings,” said White.

Tony Tucker, retired heavyweight boxer

“That’s a little different. I’m used to three-minute rounds. It may be reasonable (because of Tyson’s age),” Tucker said.

Larry Holmes, retired fighter

“You mean these guys are (changing) the rules? I’ll bet a quarter on Mike Tyson,” Holmes said.

Kathy Duva, promoter

“The shorter rounds favor Tyson and the bigger gloves probably favor Paul. At least they both know what to expect going in,” said Duva.

Lou DiBella, promoter

“The glove size means nothing. Does nothing to soften brain blows; some argue that the bigger mass creates more contact and more ricochet effect of brain moving. Two-minute rounds favor less stamina, particularly with a 58-year-old man fighting. (Eight rounds) appropriate,” DiBella said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Tyson vs. Jake Paul sparks pushback after sanctioned as pro bout

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