In a departure from his past life as the most menacing heavyweight champion of all time, Mike Tyson playfully laughed and tossed soft punches at Jake Paul’s gut during their faceoff while even tickling the YouTuber.

“He’s having a hard time taking Jake seriously,” Paulie Malignaggi said on Tuesday’s episode of ProBox TV’s “Deep Waters.” “[Tyson’s] been in there with [Evander] Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes … he’s probably thinking, ‘I need to intimidate this guy? Whatever. …’”

That opening scene at Monday’s news conference adds a different wrinkle to a Tyson fight, with this bout featuring a softer 58-year-old version of “Iron Mike,” who will be wearing extra-padded 14-ounce gloves in a bout scheduled for eight two-minute rounds to lessen the impact of fatigue.

“I don’t believe Mike can win a real fight,” Malignaggi said. “Fifty-eight is 58. Even though Jake is not on a level Mike was in his prime, he’s still in his mid-20s and has been boxing long enough.”

The Netflix-streamed card will take place July 20 from AT&T Stadium outside Dallas and will feature a co-main event between undisputed junior welterweight champion Katie Taylor versus Amanda Serrano, along with two bouts announced Wednesday: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. versus former UFC fighter Darren Till and unbeaten lightweights Ashton Sylve versus Floyd Schofield.

By staging their news conference on the fight week of the most important heavyweight bout in a generation – the undisputed title fight pitting three-belt champion Oleksandr Usyk versus WBC champion Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia on Saturday – the Tyson-Paul promotion made a misstep and missed showcasing “a tinge of the old Tyson,” Malignaggi and fellow “Deep Waters” analyst Chris Algieri said.

“Mike is the attraction. What they should’ve done with Mike is don’t let him say anything – have him stand there and look menacing,” Algieri said, assessing that such a scene would be interpreted by fight fans as, ‘I’m going to knock this guy out, just watch.’

“Instead, we got this belly touching and smiling thing going on. It wasn’t a good look.”

In fact, Saudi Arabia’s Turki Alalshikh, who is funding Fury-Usyk, urged Tyson on X to avoid “the script” and knock out Paul.

Tyson released a follow-up post on X insisting the fight will not be scripted and that he intends to knock out Paul.

“That doesn’t look real good, either, that they have to convince us this is a real fight. … ‘Trust us,’” Algieri said.

Malignaggi said it’s proved beneficial in recent weeks that boxing has seen real bad blood between Fury and Usyk, between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and his May 4 opponent Jaime Munguia’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, and between Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney before and after their controversial April 20 bout.

“Imagine boxing having this genuine bad blood, guys slapping each other,” Malignaggi said. “It’s extreme, but people want that soap-opera stuff we’re getting in Saudi Arabia.

“People don’t want to watch two guys tickling each other.”

In Saudi Arabia, Fury and Usyk are fighting for the sacred crown of who will stand as the best heavyweight of a generation as the two unbeatens battle, with former champion Anthony Joshua still wanting a piece of Fury should he win.

“If it’s Fury [in victory], you’ve got to make Fury-Joshua, and if Joshua beats Fury, it gets a little scrambled,” Malignaggi said. “If Usyk wins, he’s the best heavyweight of the era.”

As for the meaning of Tyson-Paul, that’s up to the eye of the beholder.

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