Cover image courtesy of Bloody Elbow
On 26 August, an American and an Irishman will step into a boxing ring after two months of verbal jabs and trash talk, egged on by a vociferous crowd in the stadium and watched by millions of people around the globe. It will be one of the greatest sporting events in history. It will also be the greatest con job pulled off in combat sports. Mayweather, McGregor and their associates will be swimming in a vulgar amount of millions; everybody else will feel robbed and swear to never get conned again. Until the next sideshow comes along.
History has shown, however, that we love ridiculous sideshows. The Greatest of All Time Muhammad Ali engaged in a ridiculous fight with Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1976, which has to be seen to be believed and ended in a draw. When asked why he accepted the fight, Ali replied, “Six million dollars, that’s why.” You cannot fault the man for his honesty.
A year earlier, George Foreman took on five opponents in one night in an exhibition match. All five were handily beaten but the true blow was to Foreman’s reputation, which steadily dropped throughout the night as the crescendo of boos reached fever pitch.
But let’s come back to the present time. Over the next two months, many analysts, commentators and water cooler experts will argue that Floyd Mayweather is too old, too slow and has never been touched by McGregor’s left straight that is blessed with Asgardian might. Perhaps even Mayweather himself will contribute to the hype, claiming that McGregor does stand a chance. After all, the man’s entire career has been built on two things – making people detest him enough to want to buy his fights and see him get his comeuppance, and giving his opponents hope that they might just be the one to send the great Mayweather crashing to the canvas.
The truth is that McGregor stands absolutely no chance in the squared circle against the best defensive boxer of our generation. What makes Mayweather great is also the reason why the layman will find Mayweather incredibly boring to watch. The casual viewing public wants to see blood spilled and two fighters stand and bang. Mayweather will do no such thing. He is the epitome of boxing’s mantra – hit and not get hit. And it is almost impossible to hit Mayweather, thanks to a lifetime perfecting the Philly Shell stance, an advanced defensive posture tailored for counterpunchers. In fact, prior to his reincarnation as “Money”, Mayweather’s nickname was Pretty Boy because his face had never been bashed up during a fight.
Mayweather has only been officially knocked down once in 20 years and even then, it was because he had hurt his hand punching Carlos Hernandez back in 2001. Some of the most ferocious boxers in the world the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez, Marcos Maidana and Oscar De La Hoya, barely touched the man. On average, less than 20 per cent of punches thrown by Mayweather’s opponents connected. And those that did connect hardly fazed Mayweather. What can an amateur boxer like McGregor do to Mayweather when others who have spent their entire lives perfecting the sweet science of boxing barely hurt the American?
Now, don’t get me wrong. McGregor is an amazing fighter. But he is stepping into Mayweather’s kingdom that the latter has ruled for over two decades.
Many in the boxing community have criticised Mayweather for accepting this fight and in the process, hurting the sport that has given him so much, including his $600 million net worth. After all, boxing is only beginning to recover from the fiasco that was Mayweather vs Pacquiao two years ago, which left both men $400 million richer in total and the sport a lot poorer. 2017 has been a great year so far, with multiple amazing fights already done and dusted and a few more upcoming, including the highly anticipated bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin in September. But with one swish of his right hand, Mayweather has again sent the sport of boxing to the canvas.
If I was being generous, I would give Conor McGregor half a per cent chance of winning because of his unshakeable self-belief and also because the money that both McGregor and Mayweather would make from a rematch would be astronomical. And that truly is what this fight is all about – the heist of the century willingly swallowed by a public.
Mayweather and McGregor will feast heartily on our regrets and we will go home at least a hundred dollars poorer after being led by the two trash talking Pied Pipers into handing over our hard-earned money.