Mike Tyson Faces Off With Sharks on Shark Week Ahead of Comeback Match

Mike Tyson

MIKE NELSON/AFP via Getty Image New World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is lifted into the air wearing the championship belt after defeating WBC heavyweight champion Frank Bruno of Great Britain with a third round technical knockout.

Once considered one of the most feared boxers in the sport, former World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion, Mike Tyson, recently faced a fear of his own — sharks.

At 54-years-old, Tyson agreed to be part of Shark Week, the Discovery Channel’s annual summer series that has become a staple of American TV culture and is dedicated to learning more about one of the world’s most fascinating creatures.

Tyson said even though he is scared of sharks he wanted to face that fear as part of the comeback he’s staging. In an announcement about Tyson’s appearance on the second show of the week-long series on Sunday night called “Tyson VS. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef”, he said:

I took on this challenger to overcome fears I still deal with in life. I equate this with overcoming my fear of getting back into the ring at 54 years old. I learned from this experience doing Shark Week that whatever intimidates me, I am still able to step up to the challenge of overcoming anything that would prevent me from accomplishing my life’s mission of reaching my highest potential in life and bringing me closer to God.

But not to worry, Tyson doesn’t use his iron fists on any sharks. While his job is to get total knockouts, in the case of sharks, blows to the head aren’t necessary. Rather, a cool trick called tonic immobility is used. By gently flipping a shark on its back, the animal becomes subdued temporarily for up to 15 minutes until they flip back over and snap out of it, according to Shark Trust. Researchers use the measure to gather information.

Tyson is Slated for his First Match Against Former Four-Division Champion Roy Jones Jr. on Sept. 12

It’s been 15 years since Iron Mike Tyson boxed professionally after retiring in 2005. He’s been hinting at a comeback for months and released a video in May showing himself in training sessions, looking agile, strong, quick, and fierce. At the end of the video, he says, “I’m back!”

The match against 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. is slated for Pay-Per-View on Sept. 12. Jones holds several titles, including being the “only boxer in history to start his career as a junior middleweight and go on to win a heavyweight title,” according to Jones’ website.

He told the New York Post, “I’m trying to make a comeback and it’s pretty nerve-wracking. I felt that [the sharks] would give me an upper-hand in dealing with the fight.”

But he didn’t just jump in with the sharks right away. He had to work up to getting in the water and get comfortable with sharks around him, starting by training in a pool with an animatronic shark, then getting in the Bahamian sea in a cage several times while sharks swam around him before finally getting out and trying the tonic mobility maneuver, according to the NYPost.

Essentially — he trained. Just like he’s been doing for his upcoming exhibition match with Jones.

In Tyson’s Upcoming Exhibition Match Against Jones, They Won’t Be Trying for Knockouts

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California State Athletic Commission Executive Director, Andy Foster, told Boxing Scene that he doesn’t want to mislead the public to think they’re going to see a brutal fight or any ear-biting in the Tyson vs. Jones match. With Tyson coming out of retirement at 54 and Jones being 51, the match is more of a way to see how the boxers have fared after decades of being in the rough sport.

Foster told Boxing Scene that in a Zoom meeting with the champion boxers he told both of them, “don’t ya’ll start trying to kill each other.”

I wanted to have their assurances that they understand, ‘I don’t care if they spar. I don’t care if they work.’ They are world-class athletes, even still,” said Foster. “They have a right to earn, and all these types of things. They’re about the same age. We can’t mislead the public as to this is some kind of real fight. They can get into it a little bit, but I don’t want people to get hurt. They know the deal.

It’s an exhibition. They can exhibit their boxing skills, but I don’t want them using their best efforts to hurt each other. They’re going to spar hard, but they shouldn’t be going for a knockout. This isn’t a record-book type of fight. This is not world-championship boxing right now. It’s not what this is. People shouldn’t be getting knocked out. The public can see what kind of shape Roy and Mike are still in.

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