In one of the most interesting ideas in boxing history, Floyd Mayweather and Don Moore will face off on May 14 on a helipad. The Burj Al Arab hotel is one of the largest structures in the world. It is home to a multi-purpose helipad almost 700-feet off the ground. High above the air, the fight brings some intrigue to it.
The helipad is considered an unorthodox location for a fight, especially an exhibition bout like this one. It has hosted other events before, whether it be golf, tennis, or racing. It is not the first time a unique venue was used for a boxing fight.
Whether in the United States or in the Philippines, there have been a number of instances where boxing has outdone itself with unique venues. Thinking outside the box was the name of the game. The Sporting News looks into some of the most interesting locations a fight has taken place.
The Playboy Mansion (July 15, 2003)
The Playboy Mansion, known for Hugh Hefner’s parties and the Playboy Bunnies, played host to a boxing fight in 2003. Hefner was a huge boxing fan, and bringing bouts to his castle was a no-brainer. One of the premier fighters on the card was former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye. In his fifth pro bout, Haye beat Vance Winn via TKO.
“It’s amazing to get paid for doing something like that,” Haye told Men’s Health when reflecting on the experience. “I’d boxed for 12 years as an amateur for no money, just to learn the game, and then when you turn professional you get opportunities like that, where you’re getting paid good money to fly first class to the Playboy mansion. It gave me a little taster of the potential fun ahead I had for myself as a world champion.”
After that, the Playboy Mansion was home to a few more combat events. In 2007, Strikeforce held an event that featured the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Gilbert Melendez, and Daniel Puder.
“The Rumble in the Jungle” (Oct. 30, 1974)
One of the biggest events in boxing history, “The Rumble in the Jungle” helped change the way boxing was produced. 32-year-old Muhammad Ali fought 25-year-old George Foreman for the WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles.
Promoter Don King managed to bring this fight to Zaire, where dictator Mobutu Sese Seko ran things. The event featured musical guests, celebrities, and young fighters. The clash ended up being watched by about one billion viewers worldwide and was the most-watched live television broadcast at the time. Zaire was recognized for its cultural impact.
The fight was remembered for Ali using the Rope-a-Dope and beating the favorite in Foreman.
Downtown Streets, Tulsa, Oklahoma (Aug. 15, 2020)
As the sports world was attempting to open back up following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn had an idea to host a fight in a unique venue in the United States. Hearn decided to block off 4th and 6th Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Matchroom’s fearless leader brought the fights to the literal streets, where fans could potentially watch from the office buildings nearby.
The main event would see Jessica McCaskill beat the dominant Cecilia Braekhus. McCaskill became the one to dethrone Braekhus and win the undisputed welterweight titles. It was a unique venue that ended with a historic moment in boxing history.
Titanic Quarter (Sept. 6, 2014)
Looking for his first taste of world title gold, Carl Frampton fought Kiko Martinez in a rematch from their 2013 bout. Last time, the European super-bantamweight title was on the line. This time, the IBF super-bantamweight title was on the line. Frampton fought Martinez in the Titanic Quarter, the Belfast dockyard area where The Titanic was built.
Made specifically for that fight, about 16,000 fans attended to watch Frampton make history and win his first major title.
Caesars Palace parking lot (June 11, 1982)
In 1982, a huge bout in the heavyweight division was finally booked in Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney. The fight had interest for good and bad reasons (The “Great White Hope” nickname for Cooney not helping anyone’s cause). A stadium was erected outside of Caesars’ Palace for the fight.
29,000+ were in attendance, absorbing the outside heat, as Cooney fought the WBC heavyweight champion in Holmes. The fight lasted 13 rounds, and Cooney, who was knocked down a few times, would lose via TKO.
The fight holds the record for the highest attendance at a boxing match in Nevada.
Matchroom Fight Camp (2020)
With fights in the U.K. severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Eddie Hearn decided to take matters into his own hands. In Brentwood, Essex, Hearn used the backyard of Matchroom Boxing’s offices to stage fights. Originally, the house was his childhood home.
Matches within Fight Camp included Katie Taylor vs. Delfine Persoon 2, Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin, Sam Eggington vs. Ted Cheeseman, Kid Galahad vs. Jazza Dickens, and Natasha Jonas vs. Terri Harper.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) August 1, 2020
“The Thrilla in Manila” (Oct. 1, 1975)
The third and final clash between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier is considered to be the best one of the three.
The Philippines received a boost in recognition from this fight, thanks in part to Dictator Ferdinand Marcos wanting to bring the bout to the area. The then-Araneta Coliseum hosted the event, and the atmosphere was electric. It was also extremely humid. In a battle for the ages, Ali and Frazier tired one another out.
Frazier would have the edge in the later rounds, and Ali would lose after Eddie Futch asked the ref to stop the fight following the 14th round. The bout changed both men, as Ali thought he wouldn’t make it out alive. The first shopping center in the Philippines would be named after Ali following the affair.