The date has been set. The tickets are set to go on sale and pay subscriptions and bets are being lined up. Why? Simply put, the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight offers entertainment value like we’ve never seen before.
This matchup is Gladiator-the-movie type theatre being played out in front of our eyes — different fighting genres clashing on the biggest of stages. According to Vegas, the odds of McGregor winning are so low (at this point) that one would have to put $1100 on Mayweather just to net a mere $100.
Something smells terribly wrong though.
No one seems to want to say it (anyone?), so I’m just going to get it out. There is clear and imminent danger here folks! The upset potential is real. Yes, Floyd Mayweather is a defensive genius in the ring, and yes, Conor McGregor is one of the better strikers in MMA. Yes, both fighters will earn money above and beyond their normal purses. That’s all stuff we know. Skill-sets and money aside, boxing is at risk of tainting its brand given a Mayweather loss, while MMA has everything to gain from this odd, yet unprecedented pairing should McGregor emerge as the victor.
Boxing has long been established, while MMA is defiantly trying to steal a little territory to push its product. There’s no doubt that MMA’s been a good product of late, especially in the face of what seems to be rigged scorecards in boxing — more recently the Pacquiao vs. Horn match that went awry. However, is boxing stuck in La-la-land? Even if Mayweather wins the bout, boxing still loses. What’s next — Brock Lesnar vs. Andre Ward? What a can of worms being opened here! Hats off to whoever the marketing genius is that pushed for this fight in the MMA camp. You’ve clearly won already in what appears to be a very Don King-like coup. Step forward and take a bow.
I’m the first to admit that WWE’s caged matches and battle royale’s back-in-the-day were most intriguing because they featured everyone against everyone with the likes of the classic Andre-the-Giant versus Hulk Hogan pairing. It was, and perhaps still is, a great concept (‘Last man standing’) within the confines of one particular genre, WWE. Ironically, it now feels as if the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight has turned into an anyone versus anyone, WWE type scenario itself — your style against my style to see which genre stands tallest. The saddest thing about the whole setup is that, as pure entertainment, I kind of like it! I’ve been sucked-in with the best of them, even though I prefer traditional boxing. This fight is cross pollination in its infancy and I’m on the edge of my seat with popcorn and licorice in hand. I want to walk away from this weird type of theatre, but the previews keep getting better.
However, boxing is playing a dangerous game. No discredit to MMA, as many MMA fighters are just as highly skilled as boxers, but boxing is on the verge of watering down its sport. Tell me, what happens in the future when two pure boxers deliver a less than stellar fight with no KO’s, TKO’s or other related drama? You simply can’t go backward. Not to the flip phone, not to VCR’s & cassette tapes, and soon, not to plain old boxing. Boxing will become akin to searching for a TV sitcom before realizing that there’s only reality shows left to choose from. I want to stop this fight before it happens, but at this point, the entertainment value is just too high.
(This article was originally published on July 9, 2017)