Maybe it’s a sign of the times, maybe it’s a lack of genuine fighting heroes, but this Saturday’s hugely hyped and welcomed super-fight exhibition (if there is such a thing) between Mike Tyson, aged 54, and Roy Jones, aged 51, has ticked the boxes of curiosity for fight fans the world over.
It doesn’t seem to matter that the bout will have 2-minute rounds and that it’s star attraction has not fought for 15 years.
No, this fight is a big deal – as in it’s a big, pay-per-view attraction big deal. We simply do not know what to expect once the bell rings.
But this was exactly the same way things were back on that April day in 1975 when former heavyweight king George Foreman engaged in his own wild, crazy, and out of the ordinary boxing exhibition.
Foreman, who had recently lost the heavyweight crown to the one and only Muhammad Ali, made his mind up: he would beat up five guys on the same night, this to prove “there had to be something wrong with me” on that hot night in Africa.
And so Foreman, no has-been, in fact still in his prime at age 26, gave the world the mad-cap exhibition in Canada. There were knockdowns; there were fights after the bell, there was even a kiss planted smack, bang on Foreman’s mouth.
It was wilder than wild, and of course, Ali’s guest appearance as co-commentator with Howard Cosell – Ali’s true role that of driving Foreman crazy with his constant verbal insults – added to the carnival.
But Foreman, in taking on five fresh (if limited and often undersized foes) one after the other, took far more of a risk of embarrassment of defeat than Tyson or Jones will do this Saturday.
And Foreman never got paid for his exhibition exploits (his opponents were – Alonzo Johnson, Jerry Judge, Terry Daniels, Charlie Polite, and Boone Kirkman). Okay, Tyson and Jones are willing to give their payment to charity, but Foreman was no faded, former champ with no chance of ruling the world all over again at the time of his exhibition (just look at all the things Foreman went on to achieve post-1975).
In short, Foreman did something two more recent boxing greats will do on Saturday, yet he did it on a far grander scale. And again, nobody had to pay to see Foreman Vs. Five.
I wonder, will we get more entertainment on Saturday compared to what the fans that tuned in in 1975 got? Foreman’s exhibition was ridiculed. Tyson-Jones is celebrated. Go figure!