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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Jake Paul, Mike Tyson Netflix Fight Raises Questions About Oversight

  • Netflix announced a live boxing match between Paul and Tyson this summer.
  • Tyson’s age and health bring up questions about boxing oversight, or a lack thereof.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Paul and Mike Tyson will face off in the ring this summer in a boxing match streamed live on Netflix from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the streamer announced Thursday.

Netflix is co-promoting the event with Most Valuable Promotions, cofounded by Paul in 2021. The 27-year-old social media personality and rising boxing competitor will face the 57-year-old former world heavyweight champion, who last fought in ’20.

“I’m very much looking forward to stepping into the ring with Jake Paul at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas,” Tyson said in a statement. “It’s a full circle moment that will be beyond thrilling to watch, as I started him off on his boxing journey on the undercard of my fight with Roy Jones and now I plan to finish him.”

The reference to the 2020 fight with Jones—which was contested in California under special rules meant to protect the frail combatants—raises a key issue here, which is why the fight is allowed to happen at all.

In most states, boxing and other combat sports are regulated by a commission that enforces regulations meant to, among other things, protect competitors. Notable examples where that didn’t seem to be the case include boxer James Toney being licensed in Massachusetts to fight former UFC champion Randy Couture despite never having competed in MMA at all, and CM Punk, who had also never fought MMA, being licensed to fight for the UFC in Ohio. (A commissioner said that Punk’s pro wrestling experience was functionally equivalent to an amateur career and compared it to the wrestling background that allowed pro wrestler Brock Lesnar to fight without an MMA background; Lesnar’s experience, though, included an NCAA wrestling championship, a very different thing from participation in staged spectacles.)

In the Lone Star State, fighting is overseen by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which is not known for zealous enforcement of the codes governing combat sports. These include a requirement that fighters pass a prefight medical exam showing them fit for competition—a subjective standard, but even so one it’s difficult to imagine being met by Tyson, who has a history of head trauma and suffers from nerve pain known as sciatica, which can occasionally leave him needing to use a wheelchair.

As of now, the department has yet to issue any sort of approval for the fight, because it has not been asked to do so, it said.

“The promoter has requested to have an event that day, but we have not received any proposed cards and thus have no details about what they are planning. All bouts are subject to review and approval by TDLR,” a spokesperson for the department tells Front Office Sports.

Netflix has not yet responded to FOS requests for comment.

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