Stephen A. Smith ‘disgusted’ at Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson being sanctioned as pro bout

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is not thrilled with Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson being a sanctioned professional boxing match.

MMA Fighting confirmed with a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) spokesperson on Monday that they have allowed the bout to be a professional contest, counted on both fighters’ pro records. Paul vs. Tyson headlines a massive event on July 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with the card streaming live on Netflix for subscribers.

The fight serves as Tyson’s first professional bout since losing to Kevin McBride back in 2005.

Smith reacted to the news this week on First Take.

“I’m sad, I’m saddened by it,” Smith said. “I’m disgusted by it. I don’t like it one bit. I’m not taking anything away from the great Mike Tyson, who we all treasure because of the years of greatness he gave us, but he is 57.

“And in Jake Paul’s case, the only real fighter he’s fought has been Tommy Fury, who is not considered in the upper echelon in anybody’s mind. Jake Paul has been training with professional boxing trainers for years … when are you going to get in the ring with a modern day reputable fighter with a big name who isn’t 20-plus years removed from retirement? The only time we’ve seen [Mike Tyson] in the ring in that span is for an exhibition with Roy Jones Jr.

“I mean, c’mon man. Listen, Tyson can hurt anybody … and I’m not dismissing that, but he hasn’t been fighting, and Jake Paul hasn’t fought any real, ranked professional boxers. Why should this be a sanctioned boxing match?”

Per the TDLR, the bout was approved for pro status “with certain waivers,” including the fight happening over eight, two-minute rounds, with both fighters wearing 14-ounce gloves.

While Smith is not in favor of the bout being positioned that way, he does give Paul credit for growing the sport’s fan base. Smith also wants Paul to choose a lane when it comes to his continued growth as a boxer.

“I like Jake Paul, and I appreciate what he does for the sport of boxing in terms of bringing attention to the sport, and showing you can do it promoting yourself as opposed to being at the mercy of promoters,” Smith explained. “The flip side to it, however, is that he keeps telling us how serious he’s taking this, and how bad he wants it. Well, OK, if you want the money, man, please, keep doing your thing.

“But if it’s not just about that, and if it’s bout you wanting to elevate your level, then you’ve got to get in the ring with somebody of your ilk, your age, your size — because he’s fought dudes who are smaller than him, by the way, and stuff like that. You got to do that.

“I’m saying, how about fighting lesser guys who are challengers to see how you measure up against them? Nobody’s asking him to go in the ring with some Canelo [Alvarez], [Dmitry] Bivol, or a [Artur] Beterbiev, or somebody like that. Nobody’s asking him to do that, but you could get in the ring with dudes who are actually fighting professionally in the modern day era.”