By Nick Giongco
Did you know that Sean Gibbons, head of Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, once went toe-to-toe with Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke of the 9 ½ Weeks fame?
Gibbons used to fight in the light-heavyweight division and while it is likely he didn’t come near to being rated in the top 100, the Oklahoma City native still had a colorful career that spanned 11 years from 1985 to 1996.
Fighting mostly in saloons in the Midwest, Gibbons found himself pitted against Rourke in September 1994 in Florida in a four-round super-middleweight duel.
A newspaper account described Gibbons “as frightening as a G-rated film” and who appeared to have won three of the four rounds with Rourke, who starred alongside nymphet Kim Basinger in the sex/drama flick released in 1986.
Two judges had the fight even, 38-all, while a third judge saw it for Gibbons 39-37. With that, the fight was declared a majority draw and Gibbons partied like an animal right after, just like what he did days before the fight.
Gibbons, now 53, actually has solid boxing DNA within him being a cousin of former world lightweight champion Sean O’ Grady, who, at one time fell victim to the hard-hitting Hawaiian-Filipino Andy Ganigan in the early ‘80s.
While the Rourke fight stands out in his 24-fight career, it was a clash with New York-born Puerto Rican Alex Ramos a few months earlier in Lincoln, Nebraska, that never fails to amuse Gibbons.
“I drove Alex Ramos from Indianapolis to Lincoln, Nebraska, which has a distance of 600 miles,” narrated Gibbons, now based in Las Vegas.
“When we got to the weighin, Ramos’s opponent didn’t show up so the promoter said he would give me 750 bucks to fight Alex Ramos and all the beer I could drink after the fight. I said heck ‘yes.’ And I got
knocked out in five rounds and drank a lot of beer and drove Alex back to Indiana the next day after the fight,” recalled the six-foot Gibbons, whose car of choice was a milky white mid-80s model Honda Civic that eventually logged over 400,000 miles while crisscrossing the US.
Gibbons did a lot of matchmaking and fighting at the same time and driving around that small hatch enabled him to earn some extra cash.
“I mostly fought around the Midwest and I would book three or four guys on a fight card and then get myself on that same card also for a few extra bucks,” said Gibbons, who later worked with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
“I could make like $750 to drive the guys to a fight and fight a four or six-rounder for 400 bucks. I got paid more for travel and that is why we drove in a 2-door Civic.”
Turning serious, Gibbons decided to try out boxing “to overcome his fears,” admitting he was more of a pretender rather than a contender.
“I knew I was never going to be a contender or a champ. I just loved the competition and overcoming your fears of getting into the ring. It takes some heart to get in there and I was scared every time until the bell rang.”
And did you ask about the car?
“Still running today and my nephew has it in Oklahoma,” said Gibbons with a hearty and content laugh.