Let’s accept Mayweather vs McGregor for what it is

When Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor was announced, my first reaction was it was a mismatch; one that disproportionately favoured Mayweather but would have an entertaining build up and generate a lot of money. That isn’t to throw any shade at McGregor but he’s taking part in a sport that he’s never competed in against a fighter considered a pound for pound great. If those odds aren’t stacked against him, I don’t know what is.

Nevertheless, the fight presents some intrigue, less so around the result which is roundly expected to convincingly go Mayweather’s way, but in what it represents in potential commercial success and an analysis of the overall event.

Firstly, this fight needs to be accepted for what it is in a commercial endeavour rather than a sporting one. Indeed, aside from trying to generate further hype and anticipation, I expect the delay in negotiations was more about how they could generate the most income and deciding what each fighter’s revenue streams would be. Both Mayweather and McGregor have a well publicised penchant for money and as I previously predicted, post-retirement Mayweather’s lack of fight income means he has little to offset his gambling debts, apparent poor business acumen and financial management. That’s also now compounded by an IRS bill.

The fighters may argue otherwise but there’s little legacy to fight for here. A Mayweather victory means he beat a 0–0 fighter from another sport. This fight is about money first and bragging rights second.

McGregor in Bantersaurus Rex mode

Consequently, entertainment and generating interest is high on the agenda. The first presser was entertaining with Mayweather probably edging McGregor in the banter stakes but the subsequent presser in Toronto was a 10–8 round to McGregor who put in a bant-tastic display that echoed Muhammed Ali in his prime. As a fellow fight fan put it, McGregor had more zingers than KFC. However, after Toronto, New York and London were mediocre to say the least.

New York and London represented a pantomime akin to that expected from WWE but one that was crass and desperate. After Toronto, the world tour had run out of steam. It was gassed like a fighter in the championship rounds that had neglected their cardio in training.

I’d go as far suggesting the Toronto presser will remain the main event and high point but what of the fight itself? I can only see a Mayweather victory and all the evidence points towards it.

Combat sports aficionado and multi discipline participant, David Dennis, shared some of his thoughts on the fight and agreed that all roads lead to a Mayweather victory. A wide UD points decision where McGregor is toyed with for 12 rounds, made to repeatedly miss in a defensive masterclass from Mayweather, or a TKO, probably with McGregor walking onto a shot similar to the check hook that saw Hatton hit the canvas when he fought Mayweather, were both scenarios we envisaged. Furthermore, McGregor could even see himself disqualified if his muscle memory reverts to type as he forgets that he’s now operating under Queensberry rules rather than MMA where his fists are the only permitted tools.

Mayweather’s fragile hands probably won’t allow for any meaningful power punches and as the bigger man, McGregor may be able to use his size and grappling experience to rough Mayweather up on the inside. But the chances are Mayweather’s too smart to allow him to get close enough to do that. Anything can happen in boxing and if McGregor lands a big left, Mayweather could be in trouble. Although the likelihood of that is slim, albeit not impossible. As David put it, “Floyd really is as good as everyone hates to believe he is” and he gave McGregor a 2% chance of victory.

David added further insight into the commercial value of the fight with PPV buys perhaps being eroded by boxing purists who have shown much vitriol toward the fight, more than I previously expected. Oscar de la Hoya, promoting Canelo vs GGG as a genuinely epic fight only a matter of weeks later, has been very vocal against Mayweather vs McGregor (which will undoubtedly eat into his own PPV buys). Many of the traditional boxing press, who already felt Mayweather’s braggadocio was unwelcome in the sport, are similarly against it.

Boxing has admittedly had a chip on its shoulder when it comes to MMA, primarily UFC with its commercial success. For many within the boxing community, this is a fight that is not only boxing vs UFC but also one that they will turn their backs on as a brash Irishman attempts to hijack their sport.

That leaves the casuals, the intrigued and McGregor fanboys to make up the bulk of PPVs buys. Yet in McGregor especially, boxing and UFC’s premier salesmen and self promoters will certainly maximise those numbers to an extent beyond much else seen in either sport.

McGregor does provide some intrigue insofar as he presents Mayweather with a type of opponent that he’s never faced. Certainly more outlandish, a better self promoter, more braggadocious, void of fear of Mayweather and with a self-belief that he really can win, McGregor makes for a great rival. It’s just as well because that translates into promotional hype to sell the fight. It just doesn’t translate into fighting ability in a sport that McGregor’s never competed within.

Both fighters presumably realise this fight is a spectacle but one that will make gargantuan amounts of money. As spectators, we too need to realise and accept that. That means enjoying the inevitable entertainment that we’re likely to get, albeit outside of the ring, and appreciating the fight for what it is.

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