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New role for mellow Mike Tyson as he faces off with Jake Paul | Boxing News

By Keith Idec

NEW YORK – Twenty-two years after he bit Lennox Lewis’ leg and threatened to sexually assault a male reporter during an infamous press conference in Manhattan, a much mellower Mike Tyson was the reasonable adult in the room Monday.

When a foul-mouthed child addressed Tyson and Jake Paul as “fucking legends” and asked which one of them “has a higher body count,” the reformed former heavyweight champion playfully replied, “Where is this kid’s mother?”

The rest of their press conference at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem was relatively tame, nothing resembling the circus-like spectacle many anticipated.

Tyson, 57, and Paul, 27, repeatedly expressed respect for each other as they spoke about their eight-round heavyweight fight. Tyson even admitted that they’re friends, but the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history promised skeptics that he’ll legitimately try to knock out the polarizing Paul on July 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“I really like Jake a lot,” Tyson said. “You know, but once he’s in that ring he has to fight like his life is depending on it, because it will be.”

Neither fighter answered who insisted that they’ll wear 14-ounce gloves, more padded than the customary 10-ounce gloves for heavyweight boxing matches. Tyson acknowledged, though, that he pushed for the two-minute rounds that would seemingly favor the faded fighter who will turn 58 before fight night.

“I wanted the shorter rounds because I wanted more action,” Tyson said. “If we only have two minutes, we’ll fight more – more action.”

Paul (9-1, 6 KOs) has never boxed above the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds, yet he expects to enter the ring somewhere between 230 and 240 pounds to encounter Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs, 2 NC). Though he has agreed to compete in Tyson’s weight class, Paul appreciates that a long-retired legend 30 years his senior was even willing to entertain the idea of facing an opponent who is in the heart of his physical prime.

It was Tyson’s team, according to Paul, that reached out a few weeks after they signed their contracts to demand that this fight is more than an exhibition and will count on the records of both boxers.

“He was game,” Paul said. “I think he’s always wanted to do this. This has been a long time coming. We’ve been calling each other out for years, and we finally got to make it happen on Netflix, the biggest platform in the world. And things just keep on getting bigger and better. I mean, the co-main event [the Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano rematch] – this is literally history that we’re looking at right here.

“And Mike wanted this. He wanted it to be a pro-fight. He wants the war, and so I respect that. I respect them for taking this fight, for stepping up to try to put an end to me. Because that’s what all these fighters have been trying to do, is end the YouTuber. And if Mike can do that, then he’s a hero.”

It’s getting real: Jake Paul and Mike Tyson

The Brooklyn-bred Tyson “fought” contemporary Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition 3½ years ago. He hasn’t competed in a bout that counted, however, since gigantic underdog Kevin McBride made him quit on his stool after the sixth round in June 2005 at MCI Center in Washington, D.C.

Regardless, Netflix’s incomparable worldwide reach might make the streaming service’s first foray into live combat sports the most watched boxing match of the 21st century.

“I truly believe that there’s a lotta people who, you know, see me as an arrogant asshole, which I can be sometimes,” Paul said. “But I’m just having fun and entertaining the world. And I do think that the older generation wants to see Mike knock me out. But at the end of the day, I also have the kids, the middle-schoolers, the high schoolers, the college students rooting for me, and wanna see me end Mike.”

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