Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor Is a Terrible Fight—But Who Cares
Let’s get something out of the way before we truly get started—UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor is not going to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a pure boxing match. There is no chance, not even the much discussed puncher’s variety.
Mayweather, the greatest fighter of his generation, has spent two decades making the best boxers in the world look foolish even pretending they belong in the same ring with him. McGregor’s vaunted left hand is just one of many formidable tools he’s spent a lifetime learning to take away.
Remember Arturo Gatti, the blood and guts boxer whose trilogy with Micky Ward earned him a place in the Hall of Fame? The same Gatti who was a world champion in multiple weight classes? He tried Mayweather once and looked so hopelessly outclassed that it was a mercy when the fight was finally stopped. And this was a man who’d devoted his entire life to the sweet science and become an elite competitor in an unforgiving sport.
Mayweather is more than a mere boxer. He’s the best to strap on a pair of gloves in 30 years. McGregor, despite his unprecedented success in the UFC’s Octagon, has never stepped into the ring as a professional.
In a perfect world, that would be enough to halt this spectacle in its tracks. But, in case you haven’t been paying attention to the news, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where celebrities think the Earth is flat and someone invented a juicer that connects to the internet.
In that world, our world, this fight is the perfect athletic contest for our time.
Sure, McGregor doesn’t stand much of a chance. Neither did anyone else Floyd fought. He’s the Golden State Warriors of boxing, and McGregor is a really talented handball player trying to figure out a brand new game. He’s gifted but inexperienced and in over his head.
What Conor lacks in fistic prowess, he more than makes up for in verbal dexterity. Maybe Mayweather will be able to deftly circle away from his powerful left straight and make him pay every time he charges recklessly in desperate search of a miracle.
McGregor may not have Floyd’s skills inside the squared circle, but he has a preternatural gift for making people care about everything he does. The Irishman has been compared to every loquacious boxer up to and including Muhammad All for good reason—he was born with a silver tongue and will surely use it to make this the most talked about fight in modern history.
In his UFC career, McGregor has been required to shoulder almost the entire promotional burden. His opponents have either been incapable of generating much buzz on their own merits or lacking the requisite verbal prowess to effectively utilize the media platforms McGregor so easily attracts.
That, of course, isn't the case with Mayweather. Together with HBO, Mayweather essentially created modern boxing promotion with the trendsetting 24/7 series. The reality television staple helped Mayweather craft his "Money" persona, a fame-hungry capitalist character who fans either loved or hated. It's hard not to see echoes of Mayweather every time McGregor posts a gaudy new purchase on Instagram or tweets about the ludicrous money he's paid every time he steps in the UFC's Octagon.
Now, at long last, the student will face the master.
For McGregor, it's a rags to riches story that almost defies belief. A decade ago he was on the dole in Dublin, an Irishman with an unlikely dream of UFC stardom. Along the way he discovered The Secret and visualized the kind of success that was unprecedented in MMA's short history.
He's been the UFC champion in two weight classes simultaneously, made enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life and will soon cash a check with so many zeroes that generations of McGregors will want for nothing.
Mayweather, who turned 40 in February, is one win away from breaking Rocky Marciano's record and finishing his career at a perfect 50-0. McGregor has talked openly about walking away from fighting to preserve his health and mental faculties. It's fitting, in a way, that the two biggest draws in their sports' respective histories would end their days in the ring against each other.
Fans and media will have two choices about how they respond to this fight. They can either cross their arms, harrumph and write a series of grumpy tweets complaining about the sanctity of legalized fist fighting, or they can take a deep breath, smile and enjoy the show.
I’m grinning already.