BRAYDEN ISSA analyses the initial fallout from the McGregor-Mayweather announcement and sets the stage for the superstar clash
After months of speculation, fake releases and presumed dates, hardy negotiations as typical with anything surrounding Floyd Mayweather and some hilarious verbal sparring expected with anything Connor McGregor related, we finally have a fight. August 26th will see the first two-division champion in UFC history take to the ring to attempt to bring down the 49-0 phenom that is Floyd Mayweather.
There is plenty of time between now and August 26th to preview the bout, but taking initial stocks, the reaction has been unsurprisingly mixed.
There are the skeptics who claim this is nothing more than a money grab, that McGregor has literally no chance in the ring, and the fight will be nothing more than Mayweather dancing before picking up his cheque. They might have a point.
Cast a thought back to the last Mayweather ‘super-fight’ against Manny Pacquiao, an acclaimed boxer who many thought could more than challenge Floyd’s undefeated streak.
The super-fight of a generation, the most anticipated drawcard in modern boxing history. For the first time in years, there was a legitimate buzz around a fight.
And not just from boxing purists or fringe fans. Everybody cared.
The fight was a complete dud. Mayweather outclassed Pacquio for 12 rounds, his defensive ability far superior to Manny’s striking as he failed to land much of anything — to the total dismay of the massive crowd watching.
For the uninitiated, those who weren’t accustomed to Floyd’s defensive style, the fight was disappointing. Pacquio, a vicious striker, couldn’t land significant punches.
How about Canelo Alvarez, another power striker;
Oscar de la Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley suffered the same fate.
Floyd’s proven his defensive ability can stifle the best boxing has to offer whilst McGregor is without a professional fight. Even McGregor’s current sparring partner has written off his chances at landing a punch. Something to think about.
But this is undoubtedly a win for Floyd Mayweather, because it means even after months of ‘retirement’ Floyd Mayweather still matters.
For Connor, this is a massive scalp. And whilst it’s a big deal that Mayweather is still considered a major draw, it’s an even bigger deal that McGregor has finally ascended to global status. What may seem like a smart business move for Floyd is a golden opportunity for Connor.
And that’s not just in terms of monetary value, even though he stands to pull in somewhere past 10 time his UFC career purse in one night.
Connor will enter the fight as possibly the biggest underdog in recent boxing memory. He has nothing to lose. His novice ability definitely makes tipping a victory awfully difficult, but should he pull it off, that would be one for the ages. Even Leicester City would appreciate this underdog story.
But at the end, both organisations lose out. Now, you’ll hear scatterings of the “any publicity is good publicity” theory in terms of why the UFC is interested in getting into this predicament. Allow me to push back for a moment.
Any time McGregor spends in the boxing ring is time he isn’t in the octagon.
Whilst there is a positive in the free promotion, let’s be realistic about how the UFC has ended up here.
McGregor is going to do what’s in his best interests. He’s changed divisions (thrice), demanded select opponents and now changed discipline. Dana White has done enough business with McGregor to understand how he works, and contract or not he wasn’t getting in the way.
Not to mention, their best hope of having Connor come back to the UFC, hopefully for the elusive completion of his trilogy with Nate Diaz, is to basically allow him free rein.
And they stand to at least net a gain, simply by growing the profile of their biggest star. Boxing however, can’t say the same.
A 50-0 record will overwhelm any nay-sayers trying to damage Mayweather’s reputation. The already plummeting reputation of boxing stands to take more heat. Selling out to yet another fad in the name of money in hopes to draw in big crowds.
Call Floyd what you want, he is as much a genius businessman and negotiator as he is a genius boxer. Taking this fight won’t stain his legacy; years from now, this will be remembered for what it is — one last cash grab and victory lap before bowing out with an unblemished record. The money is available, the interest is still high and the risk is so minimal it’s almost criminal.
Should he somehow lose this fight, however, there is much, much more at stake.