Exhibition fights have always been a part of boxing. The sport has long hosted such types of fights throughout history.
Particularly during the early 1900s, exhibition encounters were a regular feature even among the top names.
Legends such as Jack Dempsey, Jimmy Wilde, Jack Johnson and Benny Leonard were well known for climbing into the ring for unofficial bouts during their prestigious careers.
There have been plenty during modern times too, involving high-profile names. So the announcement that Mike Tyson will be making a return to the ring to face Roy Jones Jr. shouldn’t be as much of a surprise to boxing fans.
But, nevertheless, it has caused a massive reaction within the boxing world. The two men will square-off on September 12th in a scheduled eight-round exhibition in California.
Ahead of that showdown between two iconic figures of pugilism, here are five other famous exhibition fights to have taken place.
Oscar De La Hoya vs. Shaquille O’Neal
As far as mismatches go, this has to be up there in terms of sheer size difference.
In 2009, ’The Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya took on former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal as part of a TV series called ‘Shaq vs…’.
After four two-minute rounds and a one-minute long fifth round, it was the legendary six-division world champion who prevailed by unanimous decision.
Shane Mosley vs. Shaquille O'Neal
As if big Shaq didn’t get enough from first facing Oscar De La Hoya, he came back to the squared-circle for even more.
This time it was against another legend in ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, who eventually ran out a unanimous decision victor.
This took place during Season 2 of O’Neal’s then ongoing show, with esteemed boxing trainer Freddie Roach even getting involved to give him some tips. It didn’t help in the end.
Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki
Perhaps the most famous exhibition of them all. The greatest heavyweight fighter in boxing history had his hands full in June 26th, 1976 as Muhammad Ali met Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki.
Dubbed ‘The War of the Worlds’, the event drew a mammoth audience as Enoki tried to use this platform to prove wrestling was the world’s dominant martial art.
But it proved to be a huge anti-climax, with world heavyweight champion Ali dancing around the ring avoiding kicks from the home combatant in Tokyo. It was ultimately declared a draw after 15 dull rounds.
Mike Tyson vs. Corey Sanders
The youngest ever heavyweight world champion is no stranger to exhibition fights.
Mike Tyson may be coming back after well over a decade away from the sport but he has been involved in such bouts in the past.
Back in 2006, ‘Iron Mike’ returned from retirement to don his gloves and contest fellow former pro Corey Sanders in Ohio, nearly accidentally knocking him out during proceedings.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Tension Nasukawa
Since retiring as an undefeated professional prize-fighter, with an impressive record of 50-0, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has also delved into the world of exhibition boxing.
The American recently dubbed himself the ‘King of the Exhibitions’, boasting that he can make easy millions of pounds for short contests.
He did exactly that on New Year’s Eve 2018 in Japan, when he knocked out the much smaller Japanese kickboxer Tension Nasukawa at the Rizin 14 Saitama event. As is usually the case, it was all about the money for Mayweather.