Pinstripe suits with f-bombs stitched into the pinstripes. Insults about who makes more money. Insults about clothes. Clothes that deserve to be insulted. Racial taunts. Homophobic taunts. Exactly what aspect of this is supposed to make me want to spend $100 to see Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight on August 26?
From Los Angeles to Toronto to Brooklyn to London, these two took their road show all over last week, trying to hype a fight that needs all the help it can get. They could have just as easily done the entire show from one place since it was all for the benefit of the television cameras. For that matter, they could have just repeated the same show four times, for all the imagination that was displayed. This spectacle was so degrading, the only wonder is that they didn’t make a stop at the White House to compare notes when they were done.
These kinds of shows are as old as boxing itself, and they have never been models of decorum. Muhammad Ali infamously referred to Joe Frazier as a gorilla before their third fight. As best as anyone could tell, the fight is more interesting if we believe that there is true animosity between the two men. Sometimes the weigh-ins even turn violent, although there has never been any correlation demonstrated between the intensity of the pre-fight hype and the actual quality of the fight. If there were, this fight will suck.
To recap, in Los Angeles McGregor made fun of Mayweather’s tax problems and the fact that he showed up for one of the events in sweat pants. Mayweather then made fun of McGregor because Mayweather has earned more money over his career. McGregor wore a suit that had “f— you” stitched into the pinstripes. In Toronto, McGregor led the crowd in chanting “f— the Mayweathers,” and accused Mayweather of being illiterate, and Mayweather draped himself in an Irish flag and again bragged about how much money he has earned. In Brooklyn, McGregor told Mayweather to “dance for me, boy” and compared himself to an African American in terms of sexual prowess, while Mayweather called McGregor a bitch. In London, McGregor gave Mayweather a double middle finger and rubbed Mayweather’s head, while Mayweather used an anti-gay slur, not in reference to anyone, just felt like saying it, apparently. Are you not entertained?
It’s worth pointing out that in May Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays was suspended for two games for saying essentially the same thing that Mayweather said, and Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks was fined ten thousand dollars for something similar. Acts that merit punishment in every other sport are promotional tools in boxing.
Meanwhile, the media traipsed along behind, covering this as though something was actually happening. If you wished to do so, you could hear a detailed analysis of each man’s attire and word by word critiques of their trash talking skills. Even if trash talking were really an event requiring or even deserving analysis, all of the highlights are truly contained in the preceding paragraph, so you can draw your own conclusions without the help of ESPN. In four days, after more than six thousand miles of flying, not one thing was said that we will remember a month from now. It vaguely resembled one of the gangsta rap scenes in “Eight Mile,” except that one of these guys throwing up on stage would have been an improvement. For the sake of anyone who spends a hundred bucks, let’s hope they put more effort into their training than they did into this.
It’s all a show, which is what the sport is. Even calling it a sport at this point requires some stretching of the truth. You would think that boxing would thrive in an era of reality television because for decades boxing has been more about personalities than about skill. But the Kardashians looked at boxing and said even we have standards. So Floyd Mayweather, whose last big fight against Manny Pacquiao was more than two years ago and was about as entertaining as a cat video after the cat dies, will try to milk some more money out of us with this novelty act, because his actual boxing career is no longer interesting enough to earn him big paydays. He should accomplish that goal because McGregor has more fans at this point than any boxer, which says more about boxing than it does about McGregor.
Whether the fight itself will deliver is open to question. There seems to be a widespread assumption that Mayweather is a more skilled fighter, although he hasn’t really resembled his best self since he fought Robert Guerrero more than four years ago. McGregor is a decade younger than Mayweather, with a level of aggressiveness that Mayweather has not seen recently. If McGregor can translate that aggressiveness into actual boxing skills, this could be more competitive than the oddsmakers are expecting. One possible bit of intrigue lies in the fact that Mayweather’s last seven fights have gone the distance, raising the question of whether he can actually knock anyone out at this point. Meanwhile, McGregor, being a UFC guy, has been past the second round just twice in his career, so a long fight would be a different test for him.
But I won’t watch because I don’t care. If nothing else, what the four-day spectacle last week proved is that these are two loathsome human beings who don’t deserve our respect or even our attention. Certainly not our money.