We wondered, before Mike Tyson took on Roy Jones Nov. 28 in an exhibition match presented by Triller, a rival to TikTok, what the ramifications of the match might be.
We tried to see it from all the angles. Coming in, we understood that success breeds competition, copy-catting. If Tyson were to win, and the promotion did well, I thought that it was entirely possible more exhibitions of that sort would be put together.
As the fight played out, and I saw the social media reaction, saw (non purist) people grooving on the irreverence, on Snoop Dogg's commentary, and I Tweeted out this basic message:
People, the circus is in town. You best get to know and like the circus, or at least accept the presence of the circus, because it's sticking around.
And Tyson-Jones did do well; NYFights first reported the PPV got over a million buys, and at $50 a pop, do the math. It did well.
Older athletes watched Mike, at 54, showing better stamina and marshaling his resources better than he did back in the day. It got their wheels turning.
Why not me? Evander Holyfield has been lobbying hard to get into a ring with Tyson for a third time, and so in the fight game are having lots of conversations about this new reality. The structure to the Tyson-Jones Jr clash served, I think, the athletes, because the California commission made clear they were really not wanting to see a 54 and 51 year old man trading bombs. So, Jones held a lot, and Tyson, like we said, marshaled his resources. He didn't employ the hot mustard very much, though he did launch an uppercut that looked like it had 1986 type of bad intentions on it. And yes, we bet Roy's right side felt those left hooks that thumped him at the Staples Center in the days after the pair did their dance off.
But all in all, that exhibition didn't deliver for anyone who believed Tyson that he'd be coming in there with the express purpose of showing us that “the old Mike” was still present enough to do damage to old Roy.
After the eight rounds ended, Tyson told Jim Gray and watchers that he saw going eight rounds as a victory to be savored more than stopping Jones would have afforded him. There wasn't a blowback of consumers who felt cheated. No…By and large, my unscientific polling tells me that most people who bought the event felt like they go their money's worth.
Which brings us to today's news: Floyd Mayweather, who sort of started the recent ‘exhibition' trend when he ‘fought' kickboxer Tenshin in Japan on Dec. 31, 2018, will be following in the Tyson footsteps, with another dip into the exhinition pool.
The announcement came on Floyd's Instagram account. “Super Exhibition,” it is being billed as, the all-time pugilistic great against a…well, non all-time pugilistic great. Floyd, who turns 44 year old in February, will meet Logan Paul, who holds an 0-1 record as a pro fighter, and is better known as being “Internet famous.” You can look into the betting side of Mayweather vs Paul 2.
The 25 year old Paul built a social media presence, and thus became an “influencer” over the last five or so years. He's a good looking white kid with a frat boy mode, who is irreverent and knows how to push buttons to get social media and legacy media attention. Same for his little bro, Jake Paul, who re-lit a fire of enthusiasm for YouTuber boxing when he dropped and stopped ex NBAer Nate Robinson underneath the Tyson-Jones affair.
Mayweather decided a couple years ago that moving forward, he'd only be about “happenings.” Purists barfed and barked when he met MMAer Conor McGregor on Aug. 26, 2017. That fight was, to me, reasonably entertaining, because Conor did better than I expected. Did Floyd “let” him? Did Floyd carry him until he wanted to take him out, so he could fulfill a betting slip he'd filled out? Only Mayweather knows for sure.
And that's some of the issue that some will have with the Feb. 20 (site TBA) arrangement with Logan Paul, which will cost $24.99 for the first 1 million buyers. After that, the price jumps to $69.99 by Feb. 11.
No, the promotion isn't being done by a Top Rank, or even, it doesn't seem like, Mayweather Promotions.
An outfit called “Fanmio” seems to be the marquee platform we are meant to get to know.
Through Fanmio, one can engage in some interaction, it looks like, from a distance, with boldfaced names. That might be OG comedian John Cleese (see above), or Mandy Rose from WWE, or Floyd Mayweather. Cost starts at $29.99. It feels like the next step from Cameo, I guess.
“Fanmio is all about experiences and obsessed with producing happiness. We’re all fans of something, whether it be a sports team or film; we dream of that chance to meet our heroes.
Unfortunately, these rare face-to-face opportunities require expensive travel and lots of your time. We want to change this.
So we’re bringing these unique and exciting experiences directly to you. Connecting you with your heroes brings new stories to share and meaningful deeper relationships,” that's how they describe themselves and their mission.”
So, ready yourselves. More important than “skill” and “talent” and “technique”in certain circles of the fight game is celebrity. It's how many people know of you, and how many people you can attract, as an influencer, to something a whale wants you to know about.
That doesn't mean skill, talent and technique and fights put together by the more typical promoters and usual platforms won't get play. But for an indefinite span of time, the circus fights are going to be attracting attention, more than purist sorts would like. And if you are one of the purists, please allow me leave you with this thought, which might help you get into an accepting, or understanding, mode: This is the boxing BUSINESS.
And business is about making money. And making money is about attracting more consumers of the product. Floyd vs Logan Paul is just the next one to follow Tyson-Jones, and nowhere near the last.
Abe Gonzalez contributed to this article.