Ring icons Tyson and Jones Jr did battle across eight two-minute rounds at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night, with the result declared a draw by an unofficial panel of three WBC judges.
Both Tyson, 54, and Jones, 51, showed fleeting glimpses of former glories, with many observers feeling that Tyson in particular had done enough to be declared the winner of the contest.
But the bout was characterized by extended periods of clinching and inactivity, which was perhaps to be expected given the two pugilists’ combined age of more than a century.
Respected Russian boxing reporter Belenkiy told RT Sport that while the pair looked good for their respective ages, he had been saddened to see what unfolded in LA.
“I didn’t score the fight, I was too upset,” Belenkiy said.
“Both fighters showed what they were in the past but only remnants.
“I think Tyson won, but to say anything else, well, I can’t.
“I didn’t enjoy the fight, it was a sad, sad fight. Both fighters were old, good for their age, but old.”
After the result had been announced, large numbers of fans and pundits vented their anger online that Tyson had been ‘robbed’ of victory in what was his first contest since his last professional fight way back in 2005.
Belenkiy suggested that the former world heavyweight champion had been the busier of the two men on Saturday night, and that Jones had rarely looked like troubling Tyson.
“Jones showed he didn’t have a punch to stop Mike Tyson. Without that, at least he can last eight rounds. But I doubt he would last a single round if the fight was real,” said Belenkiy.
“The only thing he was doing was avoiding Tyson’s power punches and that’s it. He was good for his age, and Tyson was good, but only good for his age.”
Belenkiy added: “If they had fought in their [primes] maybe that would be good, but this fight, no.
“The only thing that surprised me was that Tyson was better in the eighth round than he was in the beginning of the first. This is some man in there, this is a stallion.
“You’re trying to make me say something good, but in general my attitude to this fight is very negative.
“[Tyson] unleashed his full power which he has at the age of 54, he’s good for 54 but not for 44 or 34, and much less for 24.”
Touching more upon the question of whether the fight would have panned out differently had the pair met back in their primes, Belenkiy said the result would likely have been the same – with caginess from Jones and Tyson doing most of the pressing.
“[In their primes] I think it would be more or less the same, but it would be 10 times faster. I think Roy Jones would still try to avoid his punches and probably he would do it,” said the ring reporter.
“Jones would do this but wouldn’t do anything else. If they fought three times in their prime, for example, once at least Tyson would hit him and that would be a month-long knockout.
“What today’s fight showed is that this would be a long fight, but this would not be a good fight.
“Jones never had the power to stop Tyson. It would be more or less the same as it was today.”
There was concern in some quarters before the fight that it should never have been sanctioned in the first place, although both men hinted they could again return to the ring.
Belenkiy, however, urged fans in the future not to shell out for showdowns between faded former stars.
“Don’t buy these fights. I was deeply disappointed. I haven’t had the time to explore the boxing forums. Maybe some people say they were good. But I was disappointed. That would be my main message,” Belenkiy cautioned.