Boxing used to love its exhibitions. Exhibitions were used widely and smartly back in the day, like when Muhammad Ali was king of the world, the best known person on the planet, with people everywhere craving to see him in person.
But he could and would book only so many fights. So to feed the appetite of the punters, his people would do exhibitions, and that allowed Ali to stay busier, get out and about, make the rounds, stay in the news, stay relevant.
Many folks still remember the night George Foreman took on five comers in an “exhibition” format.
The practice fell off hard in the 1980s, and while we’ve seen a couple pop up now and again, mostly the exhibition construct has lay dormant.
No surprise, though, that Mike Tyson — a deep-dive scholar of things old school — lit a fire under the concept.
From Ali to Mike Tyson — to Manny Pacquiao?
Maybe you saw the Steve Kim Tweet on Monday, which touched on the possibility that a bout between the 42-year-old fighting Senator from the Philippines might next take on young gunner Ryan Garcia, and the format could be that of an “exhibition.”
OK, Im told that in regards to Pacquiao-Ryan Garcia, nothing is finalized. The plan is for this bout to be an exhibition. Also, it would take place at THE ONE on Sunset Blvd.... #boxing— Steve Kim (@SteveKim323) January 25, 2021
So, they would fight, but without the structure of it being a “real” faceoff, with the formatting that’s generally agreed to by all parties.
A friend of mine on the West Coast who would be in a position to know said he thinks Kim’s source on this matter is pretty strong. But nother friend over there with a great track record of having smart ears to the ground said it won’t be an exhibition.
I reached out and messaged Sean Gibbons, who advises Manny Pacquiao, and asked if Pacquiao-Garcia could be an exhibition bout?
“Rules of engagement have not been decided yet,” Gibbons said. “Real fight sounds fun. Senator Pacquiao and King Ryan are real fighters! No BS UFC fighters or YouTubers!”
Agreed, and that’s why I’m really hoping the powers that be find a way to go the “real” route, and have this be a regular fight, not an exhibition. I think I’m probably in the majority there; a couple others besides myself worry that some of what we saw in the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr match, that same energy, could inject itself into a Pacquiao-Garcia fight.
I like to watch fights. Certainly, I enjoy jousts in which form is valued over fury, but if I’m going to be asked to pony up for a pay-per-view fee, then yeah, I want to have full confidence that both guys are going to be trying to kick the other guys’ ass. An exhibition does not encourage that dynamic.