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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bigger Gloves, Shorter Rounds: Texas Board to Sanction Paul-Tyson Fight

  • The Texas department overseeing the Netflix bout approved terms Monday.
  • The fight will have shorter rounds and bigger gloves than standard fights, meant to give each boxer an advantage.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tyson and Jake Paul’s Netflix boxing match this summer in Arlington has been approved as a professional fight by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The matchup will have eight two-minute rounds with fighters wearing 14-ounce gloves, the promoter, Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions, announced Monday. MVP proposed the terms, both sides agreed, and then went to TDLR for approval, the department tells Front Office Sports.

TDLR said it reviewed medical tests from each contestant with ringside physicians “to ensure they are physically able to compete.” TDLR had already licensed Paul to fight in Texas, while Tyson recently submitted his forms and medical tests, the department said. In addition to age and health, the department said it also considers any fighter’s total number of matches, length of rounds, wins and losses, and losses by knockout (“especially in the previous 12 months”), as well as the proposed terms when considering “the experience—or inexperience—of the contestants.”

Tyson has suffered from head trauma and nerve pain known as sciatica that can put him in a wheelchair. His last fight in 2020, with Paul on the undercard, had special rules including a no-knockout clause to protect the fighters. “It’s about entertainment. It’s not about competition,” said Andy Foster, the executive director of California State Athletic Commission, which oversaw the match.

The upcoming Tyson-Paul fight permits knockouts and does not require headgear. Some in combat sports have regarded the Texas state commission as less rigorous than other states that frequently host bouts.

“The safety of the contestants competing in the ring or the octagon is always the primary concern of TDLR staff. This competition is no different,” the department said in a statement provided to FOS.

Fighters usually compete in three-minute rounds and wear 10-ounce gloves, meaning Tyson and Paul are set to get more protection and rest than during a standard fight. The shorter rounds will be easier for Tyson, who will be 58 for the bout, while the heavier gloves could make a classic Tyson knockout punch less likely to land with devastating force.

“I think they call that a compromise,” Tyson’s brother-in-law Azim Spicer, who helps the boxer make creative projects including as executive producer of Being Mike Tyson, told USA Today.

Despite the nontraditional rules, the match will still count on their permanent records—Paul is 9–1, Tyson is 50–6.

TDLR told FOS in March that it had received a request for an event from MVP but did not have any details, so it hadn’t been able to review or approve the match.

The undercard will feature two female boxers, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, who will rematch after last competing in 2022 in the first female combat sports event to headline Madison Square Garden.

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