Money May, Mystic Mac, Two Girls and One Drinking Utensil
By Tom Kennett
I’m afraid you read the title correctly. The generation that gave you the viral video has outdone itself and produced its own Frankenstein’s monster; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, the two biggest pound-for-pound stars in their respective fields, meeting in a boxing ring - an environment in which one is a future hall of famer and one is a debutant.
Like the titled video, (edited in name to produce minimum shuddering and maximum professionalism), you know it won’t be pretty, things are going to get messy and neither party will come out of it smelling of roses. Yet much like said video (no hyperlinks in this particular article), from the first press conference through to fight night, millions of pairs of eyes will not be pulled from the car crash they are watching unfold. Inexplicably you’ll just have to see what everyone is talking about no matter how much your eyes bleed, whether that be through the flaunting of their respective wealth, as two millionaires inevitably call each other ‘broke bums’ while standing in an outfit that most people would need to re-mortgage their house to afford, or the fight itself, where one defensive wizard will dance round another man who wouldn’t look more uncomfortable in boxing gloves if he was using them to eat his tea. Like with that notorious (apologies) video, an undercurrent of regret will sweep through you as long as the torment lasts and looking friends in the eye afterwards may prove tricky, but a unanimous admission of guilt that it was viewed until the bitter end is silently held by all – some watching through naivety, but most knowing exactly what they are getting in to.
To put its enormity into context Mayweather-McGregor represents an unprecedented frontier in big boxing nights, such is its uniqueness. While a boxing match always risks that familiar feeling of a long-anticipated night out with the boys that fails to live up to expectations, this event will have had unparalleled hype. McGregor’s trash talk flows like a rapper spitting lyrics, carried out with a charisma that dazzles the impressionable, charms the masses and aggravates the few left over. His personality not only inspires belief but demands that you believe what he is saying. Such complete self-conviction will not only be a necessity in the fight with Floyd, but a key feature of the build-up. Each press conference, every teaser trailer, the Behind the Ropes/All Access/This is Your Life programme that will inevitably chronicle the two training camps will all be engineered to convince us that the Irishman can defy the odds and shake up the world. (And I must admit the very first promo video I saw almost inspired me to abandon all common sense and previous boxing knowledge and go full McGregor fanboy, but rest assured I stayed objective). ‘Look at the size difference between them’ will be a commonly heard phrase as any opportunity is taken to accentuate the physical advantages McGregor holds for the cameras – see David Haye vs Audley Harrison for a prime example of what a big pair of shoes and a square shouldered suit can do for you in a head-to-head if unsure. ‘Conor dealt with him at that presser’ and ‘Floyd looks shook’ will quickly follow, with the sheer strength of McGregor’s character and talk of psychological battles being won proving enough to convince many to ignore the bundle of evidence to the contrary and call a McGregor win.
And here is where we reach the crux of the issue. If it was on talking alone, Conor barely drops a round and blows Floyd out of there. If all facts are put aside and you just listen to him talk, Mystic Mac could convince you that he could beat Usain Bolt in the 100m. Floyd, while no shrinking violet himself and happy to dish out trash talk when pushed, will never be known as a great orator. Happy to hold court in a press conference and dominate an opponent whose English or ambition is limited, he is unlikely to have ever faced anything like what McGregor will bring to the press tour. (Worth noting at this stage that this was written before the first press conference, so if McGregor wraps a steel chair round Floyd’s head and shouts ‘D-VON, GET THE TABLES!’ I called it).
How Mayweather deals with McGregor’s antics is undeniably one of the most fascinating aspects of the ‘build up’ people are anticipating just as much as the fight. That however, is likely to be where the questions end. Like any potential match up with Usain Bolt (not scheduled at the time of writing, though Bolt vs a Bugatti Veyron was an interesting shout for the undercard), we ultimately know too much to be completely immersed in the hype. The chips are too heavily stacked in one favour. Floyd has done this 49 times without a blemish, without even touching on a stellar amateur career – Conor is making his debut. To put it into perspective, Olympic medallist boxers with extensive amateur pedigrees don’t tend to get a real test in their pro career before 10-15 fights, while Conor is taking on the best boxer of a generation in his first. Being thrown in the deep end is one thing; being thrown in there with a live piranha is another. For this McGregor deserves credit, as regardless of the money he is hardly short of options and could have stayed in an environment he is comfortable in. Conor could be better at Floyd at every single thing in life, but if that list excludes boxing, it doesn’t matter one bit – regardless of the pre-fight media coverage that is designed to obscure that fact. Let’s not forget that around the time of the Pacquiao fight there was a large amount of talk that Floyd allegedly struggles to read or write and the relevance of Floyd’s literacy skills seemed minimal that night.
Assuming the inevitable happens, we will no doubt display widespread outrage post-fight. After all, we’re the generation that resents anyone deemed ‘fake’ on a reality TV show where people are put on an island for a few weeks and told to form a realistic relationship in return for a cash prize. However, let’s refrain from criticising either man too heavily. Anyone offered the type of money they will be receiving would be running to the gym like Charlie with the golden ticket before you could finish the sentence ‘Floyd struggles with southpaws’. Indeed, most responses when asked if you would take a punch from Anthony Joshua for millions of pounds tend to be an immediate ‘yes’ with some quick google research into how much facial reconstruction costs, so two guys getting in together at 154 lbs looks a comparatively easy decision. Fights tend to get made on a risk/reward basis and in this case the reward is eye-watering and the risk minimal. Mayweather can sail off into the sunset (probably on a yacht), safe in the knowledge that the greatest businessman in the sport has hustled them all once again. McGregor, unable to conquer this foreign land will be coming home with riches greater than if he had slugged it out in the Octagon ten times over, an even bigger commercial attraction and a sheriff returning to clean up his town – a further reason we can have few complaints in the grand scheme of things as we look forward to more big nights in the UFC.
Besides, just like when you clicked the infamous viral video named above, you knew what you were getting when you signed up to this, you’d had fair warning. And much like said video, the only way we’ll able to process it is to not think about it too much, accept what it is and consign it to a brief albeit unforgettable chapter in our lives when it’s all over. Enjoy the hype, treat the event like the guilty pleasure it is and if you’re in the UK, be grateful you’re only parting with £20 for the privilege in comparison to the $80 being quoted for those Stateside. Boxing fans can look forward to a fight as close to guaranteed entertainment as is possible in GGG vs Canelo three weeks later and UFC fans can inevitably expect another stacked card later in the year that Dana White seems to produce on an almost monthly basis.
And if the unthinkable happens…we’ll know just what odds you could have got three years ago on McGregor beating Mayweather, Trump being President, Britain leaving the EU and Leicester winning the Premier League, as the final leg of that four way accumulator comes in.