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Where does a supreme athlete like Katie Taylor fit into the charade of Mike Tyson v Jake Paul?

Many boxing fans will turn away, recognising it as meeting of two personalities, one with little boxing ability and the other closer in age to US President Joe Biden than his opponent

There is an advert underneath one of the many dozens of online news stories on ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson that promotes chair workouts for over 40s. Tyson is 57-years-old. He will be 58 when he meets YouTuber turned boxer Jake ‘The Problem Child’ Paul on the same card as Katie Taylor’s world championship bout with Amanda Serrano later this year.

The counterpoint of the advert alongside Tyson’s training clips is difficult to ignore, with many believing the chair workout is Tyson’s rightful place at this stage of his storied career. Then again, that might be termed an ageist opinion. Yuichiro Miura, who climbed Mount Everest for at third time at 80 years young, was championed for raising the bar for what is possible. Nevertheless, the spectacle of Tyson stepping into the ring in July against an opponent three decades younger is still causing jaws to drop. Paul is 27.

The YouTuber, or content creator, is an interesting character in his own right. His professional boxing debut was against Ali Eson Gib in Miami just over four years ago, in January 2020. He has had 10 fights and has lost once, yet he ranked on the 2022 Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes. Forbes crunched the numbers and estimated that Paul made $38 million (€35.61 million) from his three boxing bouts, and various other income streams in that period.

The three fights listed by Boxing Rec in 2021 were against Ben Askren, who had never boxed before and came from a grappling background in MMA. Paul won by TKO in the first round. The next was against Tyron Woodley, another MMA fighter, who was also making his professional boxing debut. He lost to Paul on a split decision and then lost to him again in a rematch in what remains his only two professional boxing outings.


Paul is a polarising figure, with one commentator remarking that he has one of the most recognisable boxing faces in the United States, as well as the most punchable.

Paul/Tyson is the most recent in a long list of crossover fights that are part freakshow, part entertainment and part boxing – but crucially have been able to attract an “expanded audience” and fill pockets. On this occasion they have aligned their bout with the more credible meeting of lightweight world champion Taylor, promoted by Eddie Hearn, and featherweight world champion Serrano, promoted by Paul.

There is still no clarity around whether the fight will be a professional match or an exhibition. But that is beside the point as it will become content gold for Netflix, who are currently mining the world of sport for subject matter with behind-the-scenes docs on rugby, NFL, golf, tennis and F1.

The unlikely prospect of getting a glimpse of the natural rage Tyson once possessed inside and outside of the ring is enough to draw in an audience, one that may know him more from The Hangover movies than destroying opponents earlier in his career. Many boxing fans will turn away, recognising it as meeting of two personalities, one with little boxing ability and the other closer in age to US President Joe Biden than his opponent in the ring.

Another more critical aspect to the event is that there is still no guarantee that the fight will be approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR). Nor has there been any word on how many rounds are scheduled, how long those rounds will be, or what weight of gloves they will use. They are also designating the fight a heavyweight contest, although Paul has never fought as a heavyweight. Details, schmetails.

There is also an issue over Tyson’s highly-publicised use of cannabis, which he not only smokes but sells as Tyson 2.0. A daily consumer of weed, which is illegal in Texas, he claims he has given up using it for the fight. Joint-free preparation, he says, is a positive thing for aggression and he expects to turn up on the night as the Mike we have come to know and love, “really, really irritable and nasty”.

The 2015 fight between world champions Floyd Mayweather jnr and Manny Pacquiao made $410 million (€384.6 million) in the United States with 4.6 million pay per view buys. Pacquiao said he made $30 million (€28.14 million) from advertising on his trunks alone and quipped “your kids can’t eat legacy”.

He understood the reality television aspect of the show and his part in that charade. Boxers are not like bands, re-running their greatest hits. They can’t do that. Pacquiao knew the difference between boxing and providing content.

Tyson probably does too. But you have to wonder where two supreme athletes like Taylor and Serrano fit in this reality boxing soap opera.