Bros everywhere have long pondered the question: “How much money would someone accept to get the shit beaten out of them by a pro boxer on live TV?”
We may finally have our answer.
In two months, UFC fighter and Notre Dame mascot-lookalike Conor McGregor will go up against boxing icon Floyd Mayweather Jr., in what will be, make no mistake, the greatest cash-grabbing pillow-fight in history.
It’s like in those heist movies, where the two anti-heroes distract the crowd while their buddies are emptying out the vaults. It’s that #OneLastRide before the old timers disappear with millions in cash, leaving those snooty suckers confused and angry.
Only this time, we’re the suckers. And it ain’t Oceans Eleven, it’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.
Mayweather will win by unanimous decision, it won’t even be close, and the “Fight of the Century” tagline will haunt the boxing world like a certain banner did a friendly old man. And anyone who says this will be a close fight is in on the heist, too.
Age will not be a factor in this fight.
Think of it like this: if 18-time Grand Slam winner and tennis legend Roger Federer were to play a tennis match against Nationals’ right fielder and Bryce “the man who brings sexy back to baseball” Harper, would anyone really be saying “Well Rog is getting up there in age and Harper is really good at hitting balls that come at him really fast?”
As a defensive counter-puncher, Mayweather’s style is synonymous with longevity. For example, Evander Holyfield and Archie Moore (his nickname was literally “The Old Mongoose”) — both champion boxers from vastly different eras, but with the same style as Mayweather — were competing when they were 48 and 46, respectively.
They were able to do so because defensive boxing relies more on intelligence and reflexes than anything and Mayweather, at 40 — despite a trail of asinine comments that he leaves in his wake— is still sharp enough to fight.
Unless McGregor is planning on completely reinventing his boxing style from his MMA style, he will likely fight southpaw, carry over great footwork and continue to be an aggressive combination puncher. If that sounds at all familiar, that is because that was literally Manny Pacquiao, and we all remember how that “Fight of the Century” played out. Except Pacquiao had been boxing all his life, as opposed to the two months that McGregor will have to train for the fight.
In other words, McGregor has no advantage over Mayweather. McGregor will not throw out anything that Mayweather hasn’t faced before, unless in a blind rage McGregor releases a capoeira kick to Mayweather’s chin or a Muay Thai knee to the face — in which case, McGregor would immediately be disqualified and lose the match, although that would be pretty sick.
I will give McGregor this: he is one of the most technically skilled fighters in MMA. He might have also been the tallest kid in his kindergarten. But these accomplishments fade quickly with time. Once the competition improves in the UFC, which is only 23 years old by the way, McGregor will not hold up. Just look at Ronda Rousey (that isn’t meant to be a dig at Rousey at all: I loved her in the “Entourage” movie and “Furious 7”).
Mayweather, on the other hand, to most people’s begrudging acceptance, is a top-50 boxer of all-time, and probably one of the best defensive counter-punchers ever (second only to the aforementioned Mongoose). He has enjoyed career longevity, all the while remaining undefeated and avoiding serious injuries.
So why is Mayweather agreeing to this fight? What’s in it for him?
Aside from the $200 million he’s projected to make, Mayweather is trying to make a memorable fight that will cement him in history. It’s simple: Mayweather has never had a truly great fight. He has never had a match where he has been truly tested, laid flat on his back.
He has never entered a fight as an underdog.
And not because those fights didn’t exist, but because Mayweather cleverly avoided them until those fighters were past their prime (Pacquiao) or until his team could schedule the fight for a time that was clearly inconvenient for the other side (Miguel Cotto).
He has also never had a spectacular crowd-pleaser or blow-for-blow fight, not that I personally hold that against him. That’s just his style. You don’t go to a Warriors game expecting Steph Curry to put on a dunk exhibition. That’s just not his thing.
To compensate for a lack of good fights or a crowd-pleasing style, Mayweather has been exceptional at controlling his career’s media narrative. He talked a big game, flaunted his exorbitant amount of cash and could always boast an undefeated record. Since bursting onto the scenes 20 years ago, he drew comparisons to Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali (much of which have been self-promoted, but the sport was quick to endorse in order to bring back viewership and interest).
But he would never be Ali because he never had the spectacular victories that Ali and the other greats had.
For as much as Ali taunted Frazier and Foreman and said all those mean things about their respective weights and faces, those names would all eventually go down in history as some of the best ever, and by clashing with and beating them, Ali was able to cement himself as even greater.
In boxing, greatness is not defined by standing a head and shoulder above the rest. It’s about finding another fighter who meets your eye level and beating him too. And if you can’t find anyone like that around you, you keep moving up until you find somebody — Roy Jones Jr.’s indelible quest to conquer multiple weight classes — or you beat those heads around you in a spectacular fashion — Joe Louis and his bum of the month club, when he defended his title 13 times in 29 months.
Now these are truly reckless things to do, and sometimes they don’t pay off. That’s why many of the greats don’t necessarily have undefeated records. But that is what cements legends.
Mayweather, on the other hand, for better or worse, was too clever his entire career to do anything reckless, and thus too shrewd to be a legend. Every fight was calculated. Every match carefully agreed on.
And he has tried to hide that. He has cultivated an image for himself that is utterly false, and with this fight against McGregor, he is even hyping up his own opponent, trying to trick us, the audience, into believing this will be a good fight.
Where Ali talked down great fighters, which made his eventual victory all the more impressive, Mayweather is talking up a bad fighter, hoping it’ll accomplish the same. He’s trying to trick his way into GOAT-status.
But make no mistake. No matter how barely or decisively Mayweather wins, no matter how many millions of views this fight gets, it will do nothing to improve his legacy.
And if you are going to watch this fight, do so only for the fact that this is probably the last time you’ll see McGregor in a ring. Because if you think he’s going to return to the UFC after making an estimated over $100 million from this fight, you are kidding yourself.
This is no Tyson v. Holyfield. This is no Thrilla in Manila. This is no Louis v. Schmeling part II.
This is a disgrace.