The McGregor and Mayweather show is itching closer and with reports of ticket sales not selling as fast as expected and the Paulie Malignaggi sparring sessions ending on a sour note, it goes to show that the circus is filled with many more layers than one initially thought. Floyd Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe held a media scrum at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas on Thursday and offered some interesting nuggets to add to the lead up that up until now revolved around McGregor’s sparring performances. With just two weeks to go, the talk is almost over while the narrative continues to be experience more and alterations. Let’s explore some of those alterations.
McGregor’s chances of defeating Mayweather were always slim-to-none from the get go, in fact fans, celebrities and athletes in both areas of combat predicted that McGregor’s chances were limited to the early rounds and would solely come via TKO or KO. McGregor’s entire argument on why you should buy into his claim that he would stop Floyd in under four rounds is that he is too big and powerful with youth on his side despite never competing in a boxing ring before.
The four city world tour came and we witnessed the two men go at each other’s throats in verbal battle. The sight of both men facing off after taking jabs at each other through the media began to wear off upon the realization that their is no real hatred between the two. Instead, we are witnessing two of the biggest draws in recent combat history take part in a promotional spectacle in an attempt to squeeze every dime out of their scheduled summer boxing affair. The face offs weren’t ever in danger of turning into a heated brawl. The questionable insults involving terms deemed racist or homophobic barely ruffled the feathers of both combatants. The lines were crossed, but nothing came of it. Besides good old entertainment, the build up didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Both men loved to promote themselves and were not afraid of a live microphone.
MMA and boxing fans were tuned in, but they all knew that behind all of the verbal barrage, both men were glad to have one another because they are set to make a ton of money no matter how competitive the fight turns out to be. The style of combat favors Mayweather as does the 10 oz sized gloves and the experience he has inside a boxing ring. The fact that McGregor had to lure Paulie Malignaggi in as a sparring partner, months after he retired from the sport, goes to show that team McGregor is still working on turning doubters into somewhat believers. The photos of Malignaggi lying on his back, the photos of McGregor with his hands behind his back in the middle of sparring “The Magic Man,” actually helped change the conversation into, “boy, he might have a chance,” as well as potentially set up a future boxing match between McGregor and Malignaggi. Only one problem. Mayweather is not Malignaggi.
We heard Malignaggi discuss the trouble McGregor has had with body punches and given the fact that Malignaggi has only 7 TKO victories out of his 36 wins, that does give McGregor fans a reason to worry. Mayweather mentioned knowing what McGregor’s plans are is also another interesting thing to note. The 40-year-old discussed McGregor’s weight being at about 160 lbs and that the Irish fighter will try to switch stances early on in an attempt to throw the veteran off. Mayweather also spoke on trying to convince the Nevada Athletic Commission to allow the fight to be contested with 8 oz gloves because he doesn’t want any excuses from his counterpart. Mayweather is gearing up for another walk in the park and unlike McGregor’s opponents in the UFC, the head games don’t appear to be having much effect outside of the ring. There is a chance that we’ll see them work inside of the ring, but what could McGregor do if he can’t stun the undefeated boxer early on? The longer the fight goes, the more it favors Mayweather. We’ve witnessed McGregor’s lack of cardio in his two fights against an endurance athlete who could withstand McGregor’s power shots. It was the worse we’ve seen McGregor and it’s hard to believe somebody can just improve their endurance drastically in a short amount of time.
What McGregor does possess is the utmost confidence right from when a fight contract is signed. His confidence and ability to put his self belief into words is a gift and one that has gained him the huge following he currently possesses. McGregor is viewed by his fans as a hero on the silver screen with the power to break his opposition and a silver tongue to always say the right things. Mayweather has long been boxing’s wealthy villain who ran into legal trouble in recent memory, but still managed to remain unscathed. The lack of damage he’s received in his storied career angers his detractors who have been wishing and hoping for somebody to come along to put an end to his talk. While McGregor and Mayweather both speak the same language of money, wealth and lavish lifestyles, McGregor managed to put a nation behind his back at an early age. He is big enough to be a superstar yet relatable enough to be a champion of the people. The problem is that now he has completely sold out.
McGregor has criticized other forms of combat due to their lack of complete skill set and yet here he is participating in a mismatch rather than compete in his own environment. He’s no longer discussing the competition that got him to the current level of success he’s endured. He is also now entertaining another boxing match against another retired boxer. He is demanding that fans pay even more for the event he views as his biggest pay day. His usual trash talk was viewed as being good for the sport of MMA, but now it’s viewed as good for McGregor and only good for MMA if he can pull off the upset. The MMA world won’t gain much from a loss or a win. Only lost time. Malignaggi’s interview on the MMA Hour on Monday is another example of the fans’ support shifting away from the “Notorious one.” Sure, he along with Mayweather will both laugh their way to the bank when it’s all said and done, but what good does it do for the fans?
The potentially greatest event in combat sports history is reminiscent of CM Punk entering the UFC with no prior experience and we all saw how that turned out. There’s nothing wrong with tuning in, but there is a lot of wrong in the narrative that McGregor belongs in the same ring against Mayweather at this stage of his boxing tenure. If McGregor decides to retire from combat all together after this fight like some have predicted, it would forever be viewed as a bad day for MMA altogether. If he does return after a win over Mayweather, it’s doubtful that they don’t participate in a rematch. And if he loses to Mayweather, it will be a reminder that MMA’s biggest star talked the talk like he usually does, but could not follow through.