Yankello enjoying big stage

Cranberry man training Jones, Jr.

November 18, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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Cranberry Township resident Tom Yankello, left, is training Roy Jones Jr., right, for a bout with Mike Tyson Nov. 28 in Las Vegas.

CRANBERRY TWP — The rounds will be two minutes each and there's only eight of them. The gloves will be 12 ounces.

And the bout is termed as an exhibition.

But when 51-year-old Roy Jones, Jr. steps into the ring against Mike Tyson, 54, Nov. 28 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the world will be watching.

“This is an event,” Cranberry Township resident Tom Yankello said. “There's a lot of intrigue to this because of the two guys involved.

“They have so much pride. They're both legends. This is about their legacy. Will either guy hold back? Not at all.”

Yankello should know. He recently worked with Tyson on some boxing instructional videos available on the former's World Class Boxing channel. And he's been training Jones for the bout at Yankello's gym in Ambridge.

“Roy is a monster competitor, probably the best athlete in the history of the sport,” Yankello said. “When I heard he was going to fight Tyson, I reached out to him. We've known each other for a long time and I wanted to train him.

“We had mutual friends in the sport. My brother was a match-maker, Roy's done some promotion and I had a nice stable of fighters. I worked with him from time to time.”

Yankello trained Jones for two fights (2011 and 2012) and Jones won both of them. They've stayed in touch over the years.

Tyson is 50-6 with 44 KO's in his career, but hasn't fought in 15 years. Jones is 66-9 with 47 KO's and retired only two years ago.

Tyson was the first heavyweight to unify the WBA, WBC and IBF world titles. Jones won world championships at four different weight classes, including heavyweight.

“When Roy won the (heavyweight) title against John Ruiz in 2003, he wanted to fight Mike,” Yankello said. “Things couldn't be worked out contractually, Mike retired and it never happened.

“Why not have the fight now? The last thing an aging boxer loses is punching power and these guys have plenty of it. I've seen Roy spar in the ring, getting ready for this. He definitely has something left.”

Jones has been training since August. The fight was originally scheduled for Sept. 12 before getting moved back.

Jones has sparred against Center Township resident and former pro heavyweight Brian Minto along with some younger heavyweights with 13-0 records.

“They weren't going to have judges at first for this bout. Now they are,” Yankello said. “It's a fight. They're going to go at each other.”

Yankello, 49, has been training pro boxers for more than 20 years. He ranks the Tyson-Jones bout among the biggest three boxing events he's ever been part of.

“I trained Brian when he fought Axel Schulz in Germany and there were 16,000 people there,” he said. “I trained Calvin Brock when he fought Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight title in front of 16,000 at Madison Square Garden.

“This event will be similar to those.”

With one exception — no fans will be allowed in the building at the Staples Center because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“That will be different,” Yankello allowed. “But we're talking about a pay-per-view event here that's going to surpass a million buys. This is big.

“The intrigue is that no one knows how this is gonna go.”

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John Enrietto

John Enrietto

I graduated with a Journalism degree from Ohio University in 1979. I started at the Eagle on August 24, 1997. My awards include 2nd place in feature writing from Ohio Associated Press (while working for the Steubenville Herald-Star), media award from Lernerville Speedway and 3rd place in a Pennsylvania AP contest for story feature.