Here we stand, mere hours away from Mayweather vs. McGregor, a fight that promoters desperately want to advertise as the veritable “fight of the century.” However, ardent patrons of both boxing and MMA generally don’t appear to be too terribly enthused about this matchup, despite its gargantuan marketing push, with a recent CNBC story even indicating that ticket sales were sagging.
Sports fans have always gravitated toward the theoretical, constructing hypothetical confrontations between a given sport’s generational icons. Combat sports aficionados have long pondered and debated history’s most riveting potential matchups.
Every boxing fan has undoubtedly heard the Tyson vs. Ali debate, and perhaps even participated in it, arguing either in favor of the former’s destructive inside-the-pocket ferocity or the latter’s prolific elusiveness and out-boxing crispness. In 1970, the public was even treated to “The Super Fight,” a computer-generated simulation which pitted arguably the two greatest heavyweights, Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali, against one another.
In MMA, particularly given its relatively short history, fans have hedged somewhat close to the actualization of legitimate super fights. Sure, fight fans were never treated to a long-rumored bout between Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, but we did get to see the sport’s very first, and perhaps only, credible super fight in Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at Pride Final Conflict in 2005.
Yet in recent years, with the aforementioned meteoric rise of MMA and relatively little in the way of lengthy history necessary to cultivate generational heroes capable of creating dream matchups, fight fans have added a new dimension to their hypothetical pastime. Now the debate encompasses the whole of combat sports, and true to its origins, it takes aim at the cultural staple of boxing.
In the perennial, and all but settled, quest to prove which combat sport reigns supreme, we’ve been left with a fight between Mayweather and McGregor. An apparently long-awaited boxing match between an undefeated all-time great in Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and MMA’s most popular superstar in Conor McGregor.
The reality is that the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight is little more than an unashamed cash-grab, an affair that is leagues away from constituting an authentic super fight. As longtime boxing analyst Jim Lampley stated in an interview with Fight Hub TV, the fight is both a grotesque mismatch, and a meaningless spectacle that is sure to have little in the way of a lasting impact.
True to his bombastic and larger-than-life nature, McGregor has boldly predicted that he’ll emerge from Saturday’s fight as the “new king of boxing,” as was reported by CNN. One can’t blame McGregor for displaying his trademark brand of unabashed showmanship, but the odds that he’ll unseat the reigning kingpin of boxing are exceptionally slim.
Sure, it’s a fight and anything can happen, but even a dynamic striker like McGregor is going to be hard-pressed to lay meaningful leather on a master of the “sweet science,” even with eight-ounce gloves. It’s an assault on common sense to give the counter-punching McGregor anything better than a remote puncher’s chance to defeat one of the sport’s greatest defensive boxers.
It’s preposterous to seriously entertain the notion, even despite his size and reach advantage, that a mixed martial artist, who has never boxed professionally, will step into the boxing ring and down a man who is 49-0 and regarded as one of the greatest boxers in history. It’s a tremendous leap of misplaced faith to think that McGregor is going to be able to do what the likes of Pacquiao, Alvarez, Cotto, Ortiz, Mosley, Marquez, De La Hoya, and Castillo, could not.
I’m a tireless supporter of underdog fighters, but this is an event that the Nevada State Athletic Commission shouldn’t have sanctioned in the first place. Despite the rampant hype, Mayweather vs. McGregor is little more than a circus attraction in which a man who has not yet ascended to the Mount Rushmore of MMA is going to box against a man who has completely dominated his sport for two decades.
This fight is going to showcase less of the competitiveness seen in Mayweather vs. Maidana, and more of the bludgeoning seen in Mayweather vs. Hatton — albeit in half the time. Perhaps the great tragedy of this fight is not necessarily that neither sport will benefit from this athletic albatross, but that one of the most coveted records in all of sports, Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 undefeated streak, which has stood for over six decades, will be shattered by a glorified exhibition.
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]