By Mauricio Sulaiman
WBC President/Son of Jose Sulaiman
The impressive performance that Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. offered last Saturday night has left a great feeling among so many, not only boxing fans, but for anyone who likes sports and entertainment.
It all started on May 1st, with a six-second video posted on Instagram by Iron Mike, where the planet saw him throwing a furious combination at his trainer’s mitts. Social media exploded, and the image went around the world. Tyson who had been suffering from weight and depression problems showed his great power and speed in this clip which instantly made all wonder what was to follow.
Just when we were all locked at home, when the uncertainty of this pandemic had us on the canvas, Mike Tyson generated an impression that seven months later became a reality.
Mike stepped into the ring and along with another superstar in the ring, multi-time champion Roy Jones Jr., taught us all a great lesson in that through work, dedication and discipline, sports can change your life. Two boxing icons, who combined are 105 years old, trained for months and gave a formidable display, taking our minds back to those years of glory, when they were the kings of the ring.
From day one, the World Boxing Council joined the idea of achieving this exhibition and we worked hard to achieve it. Even when the typical criticism and skepticism existed, we were convinced of the greatness of this concept, but why?
Tyson and Jones found in boxing the escape and motivation not to fall into the terrible depression that the pandemic has caused humanity, and in the same way they inspired millions of people to become physically active, thus alleviating the mental state of all. Cheering us up.
The event was conceptualized as a charitable event, “Front Line Battle”, to help various causes and honor the heroes who have fought battles on all fronts to take care of us. This concept is perfectly aligned with our campaign: “Heroes of Humanity”. The event was majestic, a production of which had never been seen in boxing.
Triller, the production company in charge of the event, transformed the Staples Center, with capacity for 20,000 fans, into a gigantic studio with technological state-of-the-art; in the center it was the ring, surrounded by screens, lights and audio equipment, a commentator’s booth and 15 seats distributed on the floor, where we were seated with the California State Boxing Commission. It was a perfect and fitting setting.
On the same floor, there was another stage, where the presentations of the musical acts took place. On the other side, there was the entire video production system for the pay per view event, where, by the way, Ernesto Amador was in charge of narrating the actions in Spanish.
The preliminary fights were very good, since three WBC-USNBC were contested; Also former world champion Badou Jack impressively fought and famous influencer Jake Paul dramatically knocked out former NBA star Nate Robinson.
Snoop Dogg made an incredible performance and after the national anthem came the stellar moment, the main event of the evening Tyson vs. Jones Jr. with my dear friend Michael Buffer as ring announcer
The last time Tyson had been in the ring, 15 years ago, he had lost in an embarrassing way, sitting on the canvas completely exhausted, without strength, without condition, and without hunger. Much was speculated about what was going to happen; there was even great concern.
But we did see a great display; two athletes, over 50 years old, giving a great show, taking our minds to the past; not comparing to what was before, but appreciating what they are today.
Many people have expressed the nostalgia it generated and how they remembered watching Tyson’s fights with parents or grandparents; it was a feeling of inspiration and hope. Mike and Roy gave of themselves fully to entertain a world, hungry and thirsty for positives, inspiring stories, leaders, and ambassadors for good deeds. They had a lot of fun and in the end in the center of the ring they embraced into an exemplary sporting hug. Fair Play at its very best.
We presented a commemorative belt as a well-deserved a very much deserving reward for both, which marks the culmination of a dream come true.
Back in the dressing room, I was able to talk a lot with Mike. He was happy and excited. He asked insistently: “How did I do it? What do you think? Did you like it? Look, everyone, I won a belt, the same one I won when I was 20 years old! ”
I closed the dressing room door, seeing Mike sitting with his belt on, staring at it, cherishing it, while hugging the love of his life, his wife Kiki.
DID YOU KNOW…?
Mike Tyson is a fan of Mexican boxing; Even in one of his visits to Mexico, he asked my father to invite Mantequilla Napoles to meet him in person and talk with him. He also traveled to Culiacán to accompany the Great Mexican Champion, his close friend: Julio César Chávez, in a benefit fight in the early 90s.
How difficult to choose today’s story; there are so many things I could tell about Mike Tyson and his unique relationship with our beloved Don José.
He came to Mexico in ’88 to support my father in his re-election as President of the WBC, and every time he saw a child in the street he would stop and buy sneakers for them.
There is also that famous reunion at the Arroyo restaurant, where he found himself in the little bullring and he saw the baby bull coming he ran and jumped up onto the platform to be safe, or the time he asked me to accompany him, as he wanted to escalate towards the Angel of Independence statue!
The most significant, without a doubt, is that afternoon when Mike visited my dad at UCLA hospital. He entered ICU, got into his room, took him by the hand and prayed with tears streaming down his face.
After being alone with him for more than an hour, he came out to sit with my mom and the rest of the family, in the tiny waiting room, talking very deep things and giving us great encouragement. He has always called Doña Martha “mom”, and he also took her by the hand and caressed her, wanting to comfort and alleviate the deep pain and anguish of the moment.
Miguel, as I affectionately call him from the first day I met him, will always be special for the Sulaiman family and the WBC family and we will always be in his corner … Tyson was one of the first to call me to ask me not to leave the WBC, after my father left, and he is always there ready to help in whichever social responsibility campaign we are running.
This Saturday, November 28, Don José was present at the Staples Center, smiling, watching one of the greatest in history offering a historic night.