Exclusive: Mike Tyson returned to the ring to beat depression

Mauricio Sulaiman has revealed the reasoning behind Mike Tyson's boxing comeback last year against Roy Jones Jr.

The heavyweight legend fought eight, two-minute rounds against the former four-division world champion in an exhibition bout that ended a draw.

It was the first time fans had seen him in action since 2005 and "Iron Mike" has since been linked with rematches against Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield.

Meanwhile, Jones told Planet Sport about his hopes of securing a showdown with MMA legend Anderson Silva who recently beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Sulaiman spoke to Tyson on Wednesday to wish him happy birthday after turning 55 but said there was no discussion of him fighting again.

However, the president did open up on the motivations behind Tyson's extraordinary return to the sport.

"It was a unique experience because of the pandemic. The pandemic brought all of us great anxiety, concerns and uncertainty. Mike Tyson was heavily overweight - he was depressed, and when this came about because of the pandemic, he started training," Sulaiman exclusively told Planet Sport.

"We had a talk one day, he said he was training and then he put a video on Instagram - I believe 80 seconds long - and it went all over the world viral with huge expectations.

"His intention was to at all times, to do an exhibition, to do it for charity and to do it to entertain the millions of people who have or had been suffering at that time from the pandemic, the lockdown and depression.

"It took him out of depression, took him in shape and changed his life around. It was a great all-round experience. He did it with great professionalism because he trained very well and also he was very cautious.

"He understood it was an exhibition, not a fight. Not an attempt to win or to hurt his opponent he was just simply having lots of fun and he showed in the ring his great skills and it was overall a very successful event," he added.

The pandemic has contributed to boxing comebacks

Another famous name is plotting a comeback in Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya.

He will face Vitor Belfort in an eight-round bout and has a weight limit of 175lbs compared to 190lbs for Belfort.

De La Hoya recently appeared intoxicated while commentating on an undercard fight of Jake Paul's first-round win over Ben Askren.

More and more fighters from the past seem more serious than ever to return, whether that's a professional fight or an exhibition and Sulaiman believes the global pandemic has had an influence on their decisions.

"I haven't spoken to Oscar [De La Hoya]. There is a trend of fighters wanting to go back into the ring. My opinion, it is all consequences from the pandemic and the mental state that we all suffered during last year.

"We all went back and did what we used to do. I went back and played soccer with my kids and pretended to be a goalkeeper like I did when I was a young kid. But instead of flying when I used to fly, I fell over like a bag of potatoes, and I could not walk the next day.

"Everyone is wanting to do exhibitions, wanting to do real fights and there's a concern. It is different - it is not a game and if you fight, not an exhibition. In a fight there has to be absolutely thorough medical, a thorough organisation and a thorough examination from the commission as well a good referee and a ring doctor so it is all administered. As I say, boxing is not a game."

WBC cares about fighters

The WBC have introduced plenty of protocols to ensure that safety comes first, including the Clean Boxing Programme.

And Sulaiman explained the procedures fighters have to go through under their organisation, especially Tyson and Jones who are over the age of 40.

"We had great communication from the California State of Athletic Commission [CSAC] who did a sensational job administering that exhibition (between Tyson and Jones).

"There were thorough medical examinations and there is a different protocol for when you are over 40 years old, and of course when you are over 50, it's absolutely a more thorough examination.

"Weights (get checked), anti-doping testing, the rounds were two minutes instead of three minutes, the gloves were 12oz and we always recommend using headgear in exhibitions like Julio Cesar Chavez has done.

"There's a difference between an exhibition and a fight. I believe there has to be a very well structured local commission sanctioning and approving an exhibition," Sulaiman concluded.

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