This fight, though scoffed at by boxing and MMA purists, is captivating for the wrong reasons
I shouldn’t care, but I do.
I shouldn’t be excited showing up to my local Buffalo Wild Wings three hours early just to get a table, but I am. I shouldn’t be counting down the days until I get to watch this sort of circus unfold, but I am. I shouldn’t even be sitting here putting my thoughts about it onto paper, but here I am, racing my fingers across the keyboard. And above all else, I shouldn’t feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I think about the idea of watching one of the greatest of all time compete under the bright lights opposite a man without a single round under his belt, but I do.
I almost feel guilty. Almost.
Every time I teeter on the edge of writing this fight off completely, the voice of reason rears its head. I’m reminded that this is just as much sport as it is spectacle. The very foundation of two men trading blows was built just as much on showmanship as it was athleticism and competition.
Our managing director, Thomas Louis, recently called this contest, “the greatest spectacle of our time.” He was right. This fight, for all its worth, is combat sports defined. The first of its kind and likely not the last.
Is it absurd that this fight even had pen put to paper? Of course. Hyperbole aside, we’re asking Conor McGregor, a mixed martial artist, to do what Miguel Cotto couldn’t. We’re asking him to do what Canelo Alvarez couldn’t. We’re asking him to do what Manny Pacquiao couldn’t. We’re asking a man who’s far from unblemished in the confines of his own sport, a very different form of fighting, to lay waste to a true boxing great in Floyd Mayweather Jr. It’s ludicrous at best.
Take one look at the fight card on paper and try not to scoff at Mayweather’s pristine 49-0 record opposite the words “professional debut.” It’s unlike anything the boxing world has ever witnessed.
I shouldn’t care, but I do.
McGregor has a way of making us believe the impossible is possible. His past triumphs, notably his 13-second destruction of former UFC featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, have a way of clouding reality. His insistence that his left hand sits in a league of its own and that no man alive can survive its power is him conning us into buying what he’s selling. Hell, I’ve already bought my ticket.
Conor McGregor is a showman above all else. He invested his own sweat and blood to build his brand, and he knows his worth in this game. When you strip him of his custom suits and Versace robes, McGregor isn’t far removed from Mayweather himself. McGregor, much in the way Pretty Boy Floyd did for years, forces you to care about him. Your allegiance is irrelevant. He commands your utmost attention each time he fights, a prize far more valuable than any W on his record.
Boxing purists have every right to be upset. This fight is a farce in every sense of the word, a sham designed to do little but sell tickets. Three weeks later, two of the very best boxers alive today will go toe-to-toe in the very same ring and nobody seems to care. Mayweather and McGregor have duped much of the world into believing this fight is going to be competitive, believing that the Irishman will land the historic knockout blow, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.
But this clash isn’t for boxing purists. It isn’t even for the mixed martial arts enthusiasts seeking to cement their superiority. This fight is for every casual onlooker who will be sitting in that Buffalo Wild Wings with me on August 26th, screaming at the top of their lungs for McGregor to land the left cross that shocks the world, as they knock back their sixth Bud Light of the evening. This fight is for those who couldn’t care to know the odds, the fans who simply want a shot at witnessing history.
Will Conor McGregor walk out of the T-Mobile Arena as the new face of boxing? Of course not. Floyd will almost certainly pick him apart the way he did Berto, the way he did Pacquiao, and the way he did Cotto, via a masterclass in defensive boxing. He will send the foul-mouthed phenomenon back to the octagon and all will be forgotten.
And I really shouldn’t care at all, but I do.