Tyson vs Briggs or Will it be a Tag Team Match vs Klitschko Bros?

Posted on May 8, 2020

One step forward, one back, two steps forward.

That herky-jerky pattern reveals the sports world’s slow-but-definite rebound from the coronavirus.

The triumphant return will all look official when major-league baseball, the NFL, NHL, and NBA ultimately return.

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But like a grass-roots movement that ultimately becomes a national trend, the comeback is actually being authored now. One small development at a time.  One continued package of lunges, lurches, and leaps – forming an upward direction. 

The events will lead to bigger NJ online sports betting news if no major setbacks occur during this building period.

Here are some developments that look significant when grouped.

LURCH: Tyson vs Briggs… On-And-Off

Mike Tyson’s will-he-wont-he $20 million appearances against Shannon Briggs in a Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship became the latest development in that process.

UPDATE: Tyson has not yet agreed to a deal with BKFC. Additionally, Briggs is offering the idea of a tag-team fight featuring Briggs and Tyson vs. the Klitschko brothers, or a Klitschko and David Haye. He thinks being able to tag in like wrestling could be a fun thing. Why not?

It flickered and fizzled in a 24-hour period. But what’s interesting is the contrast between now and the early COVID period of mid-March. People were canceling events, not proposing or announcing them.

The Tyson saga developed at a lightning clip Thursday, with the deal actually announced before the back-tracking began. Fight promoter David Feldman took to Twitter late Thursday night, saying there’d been a fake profile bearing his name with the news, and that no deal existed.

On Friday, some news outlets blindly repeated the original story, announcing as fact what had already been corrected.

More developments in that situation may come. Tyson could eventually sign on as an associate of Feldman’s group, which would become a coup, fight or no fight.

mike tyson bare knuckle

Tyson has already been offered money for exhibition fights in Australia and his training videos, depicting the athleticism of someone much younger than his 53 years, has sparked excitement. So much so that when reports of a $20 million payday for Tyson surfaced, news outlets bit.

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Feldman, of course, didn’t mind the publicity that elevates his organization’s existence:

That bare knuckle-fighting unfurls in a 22-foot circular ring, encased in a 28-foot square. That fighters toe the line to start the match-three feet apart, fight their way out of clinches and can grab and hit the back of their opponents’ head in or order to discourage being tied up. Refs only intervene if there is a three-second lull in the action.

Feldman got free attention and Briggs, one of the most likable fighters in history, reportedly joined the BNFC this spring. Even if Tyson signs on to work in the BNFC outfit, as a non-combatant, this will be a victory for them.

For Feldman, even what became fake news was good news. Somewhere along the line, the business will follow.

Leap: UFC 249

Tyson, the one-time Baddest Man on the Planet and the most feared puncher in boxing history has become revered at large. He’s become an interviewer these days and one of his recent podcasts involves a UFC fighter “who wants to be a legend like you, Mike.”

Bringing us to the next piece of the comeback. The compliment was paid by Justin Gaethje before his UFC 249 headliner appearance against Tony Ferguson.

The very existence of this fight (Ferguson -177, Gaethje, +150 as a relative sportsbook average in this interim lightweight title bout), breaks ground by its mere existence.

The 12-fight card without spectators is the first breakthrough of major sports against the Covid-19’s strangulation of business and entertainment.

Three fights in eight days take place without spectators, in Jacksonville, Fla. UFC President Dana White has said that people need sports “or they will go out of their minds.”

It looks like they won’t do that for the next week at least. There are no spectators allowed for UFC and some fighters who feed off the crowd won’t have that advantage. But this is the new normal and fans will take it.

They will also bet it. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and others delivered a strong platform of betting options for UFC 249 and already has some amassed for May 13 and 16.

White showed ingenuity to parlay Florida’s decision to consider UFC essential a couple of weeks back.  That opened the way for White to bring events with viewing (varied ESPN outlets) and betting from the sportsbooks.

It also showed resilience, because White had been blindsided by ESPN, his broadcast partner, earlier in April. The card had been scheduled for April 18, announced by White, scheduled for California, and then hastily withdrawn as ESPN bowed to pressure from California politicians.

 That was a body blow to the optimism of the sports world’s return. But White has responded with a series of headshots.


Nascar is coming back. Next weekend.

And it will try to make up for the lost time by staging seven events in 11 days.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your apps.

NASCAR’s revised schedule goes only through May and has a pair of Wednesday Cup races, fulfilling fans’ longtime plea for midweek events. The first of those races will be at Darlington, three days after the return race at the 70-year-old, egg-shaped oval.

Charlotte Motor Speedway will then host the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 to mark 60 consecutive years the longest race on the NASCAR schedule will be held on Memorial Day weekend. The track in Concord, outside NASCAR’s home base of Charlotte, will then host a Wednesday race three days later.

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For May 17, according to DraftKings:

Smaller Leap

Horse racing continues gaining speed. It started small and went larger.

It began about two weeks back, when little-known Fonner Park in Nebraska obtained permission to extend its Monday-Wednesday racing season through May.

And then came Tampa Bay Downs, extending from May 3-May 30, with a healthy lineup of weekend racing.

Cross into the bigger realm, when Churchill Downs, the industry’s highest-profile track, announced a shortened meet starting next weekend, running until late June.

Churchill Downs? Yes, the same track that had to postpone the Kentucky Derby from May 2-September 5, salvaged a strong chunk of its racing season. Thumbs up. (New Jersey bettors can access it via 4NJBETS.)

Now here comes Louisiana Downs. It will open June 6.

A “four-punch” combo in a short time.

Momentum Gathers

And the hits keep coming.

It seems that, two days ago, we were preparing for March Madness, the NHL and NBA playoffs, and the start of baseball.

It seems that yesterday we waited on the New Jersey DGE to approve ping pong as THE event to wager on.

And now look.

Sports are moving back. Returns are being announced almost as quickly as the postponements were.

Among the newest:

  • Bundesliga returns next week in Germany.
  • Korean Baseball has been baptized. ESPN announced a deal Monday to televise the KBO, which occurs overnight.
  • By Wednesday, somebody hit a four-team parlay at DraftKings.

It’s almost official. Life is getting better. And bettor.

This is the crossover period. Everybody now has to play smart. And safe.

Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a national multi-award-winning writer, and broadcaster, writes extensively on the evolving legalized sports-wagering world. Over the past four decades, he has called fights for all major networks, authored columns for the Associated Press, Atlantic City Press, and iGaming Player. He is in the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and a Sam Taub Award for broadcast excellence, given by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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