Both fighters had impressive moments during a fight that was unofficially ruled a draw by the WBC judges at ringside. Tyson and Jones fought eight two-minute rounds, and both emerged smiling and apparently healthy from a highly unusual event at Staples Center.
"This is better than fighting for championships," Tyson said of the heavyweight exhibition, which raised money for various charities. "We're humanitarians now. We can do something good for the world. We've got to do this again."
The former heavyweight champion of the world's return to the ring after a 15-year absence attracted international attention, and Iron Mike did his best to show the form that made him a legend to a generation of boxing fans. Tyson tagged Jones with body shots and a handful of head punches during a bout that was required to be a fairly safe glorious sparring session by the California State Athletic Commission.
"The body shots definitely took a toll," said Jones, the former four-division world champion widely considered the most skilled boxer of his generation. "It's something to take the punches that Mike throws. I'm cool with a draw. Maybe we can do it again."
Jones walked to the ring with gloves and trunks honouring Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, while Tyson wore his signature all-black trunks. After the traditional pre-fight pomp and an introduction by Michael Buffer, the 50-something champions both came out throwing punches that evoked echoes of their glorious primes.
They also tied up frequently on the inside, and their occasionally laboured breathing could be heard on the microphones in the empty arena.
Hip hop star Snoop Dogg's witty television commentary was among the loudest noises inside Staples, and he had a handful of zingers: "This is like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue!"
Tyson and Jones were the headliners in the most improbable pay-per-view boxing event in years, engineered by social networking app Triller and featuring fights interspersed with hip hop performances in an empty arena.
The event was derided as an anti-sporting spectacle by some critics, yet both Tyson and Jones appeared to handle themselves capably and safely. Fans were clearly enamored, with the show getting enormous traction on social media.
"I hit you with some good shots, and you took it," Tyson said. "I respect that."
In the co-main event, YouTube star Jake Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson, stopped in the second round of Robinson's pro boxing debut. Paul, in his second pro fight, recorded three knockdowns against Robinson, the three-time NBA Slam Dunk contest champion, before an overhand right put Robinson flat on his face and apparently unconscious.