Thanksgiving brings with it plenty of football, but this particular year it also brings a bit of a quirky boxing event. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. are facing off in an exhibition bout on Saturday that will headline a seven-fight card at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The undercard gets going at 9 p.m. ET and will via live stream at Triller and on traditional TV PPV.
The second to last fight of the evening will feature retired NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson facing off against YouTube personality and burgeoning fighter Jake Paul in a six-round cruiserweight fight. Robinson has never fought in a boxing match while Paul is 1-0 as a pro after winning his only amateur fight.
This is curious to say the least. Celebrity boxing matches are not new, but that never makes it any less odd seeing two notable non-boxing names stepping into the squared circle. And in this case, it’s not some random FOX event that’s entirely a circus. While Tyson-Jones is meant to be a basic exhibition rather than traditional competitive fight, this is still a card loaded with fighters who have previously or are currently making their careers as boxers.
Paul began his fighting career with an amateur win over Deji, brother of British YouTube KSI. They fought on the undercard of KSI’s fight with Jake’s older brother Logan as part of a YouTube PPV card. Jake won his fight via fifth round TKO after Deji’s corner threw in the towel. Paul announced his decision to turn pro in 2019 and on January 30, 2020 won his first professional fight against YouTuber Gib. Paul won the fight via TKO in the first round at the 2:18 mark.
Following that fight, Paul apparently was talking a lot of trash about fighting professional athletes and Robinson decided to call him on it.
Robinson’s manager met Paul at an event in 2019, per ESPN, and this year they were able to put the fight together. Robinson has been looking for challenges outside the NBA, and this certainly qualifies as one — particularly with no prior fighting experience.
Neither fighter is to be viewed as a long-term boxing prospect, but by all accounts both are taking this extremely seriously. It likely won’t be a particularly compelling technical display, but hopefully it’s not entirely awful boxing. The 6’1 Paul will have a height and reach advantage over the 5’9 Robinson, so we’ll see if Robinson tries to engage early or if he plays it safe to avoid Paul’s reach. This could end in a hurry or turn into a slog fairly quickly depending on how Robinson approaches the reach difference. But if that’s your cup of tea, by all means, enjoy it!