Boxing Opinion: The ironic implications of Mayweather vs McGregor

Floyd Mayweather has been a self-cast villain throughout his career. At the T-Mobile Arena he’ll be walking in tied for that title when he finally meets Conor McGregor.

Finally, after all of the back and forth, the monumental showdown of Mayweather vs McGregor is going to happen this weekend. There are no titles at stake, no actual boxing implications. What we will have is a well-hyped spectacle. A performance that happens to take place inside a ring.

Even as the last minute bets pour in, the greatest risk belongs to Floyd Mayweather, a 49-0 world titlist in five weight classes. We’re not talking odds and physical harm. The man they call “Money” will be risking what’s left of the reputation of an already beleaguered sport.

How ironic is that? The complicated pleasure of a Floyd Mayweather fight comes with all of the baggage of his violent past against women juxtaposed to a brilliant Hall of Fame worthy career inside of the ring. Withstanding the fact that it’s been a tremendous year for the sport in just about every division, especially at welterweight, this Saturday evening could do much more harm than good.

Boxing continues to have to prove itself worthy of fans’ trust that squirrely judging and corruption won’t interfere with an outcome. For all of the clinics and display of skill that the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford give us, the blatant robbery of Manny Pacquiao in favour of Jeff Horn level sets fight fan experiences back to tepid optimism.

Even as we are nearing a super fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, boxing is stepping on the momentum of its own marque match-up. The Nevada Athletic Commission sanctioned an event, not a boxing match. No need to look for McGregor’s ability to adapt on an inside game. No need to look for a rare KO by Mayweather. All of that was negated by granting a license for this spectacle.

A Floyd win won’t do much to persuade non-boxing fans to continue to follow its athletes. A Floyd loss works to hasten the advancement of a narrative that the ring is being supplanted by an octagon.

Watching a train wreck

In any sporting match-up of individuals we find a hero and a villain. In most cases, it’s fairly easy to identify which is which. Not so much Mayweather vs McGregor. Their coziness in the moral gutter, has resulted in more interest and even tacit approval of disgraceful behavior.

Both can be categorized as virtuoso trash-talkers competing to be more derisive than the other.

McGregor’s “Dance for me, boy!” “I’m half-black—from the belly button down.” And flippant cracks at Mayweather’s domestic violence victim was met by Floyd calling McGregor a “faggot.”

Whatever happens, Saturday’s showdown is expected to be the most watched combat sporting event ever and could set all sorts of Pay-Per-View revenue and viewership records. It will be aired in more than 200 countries and could attract 1 billion viewers.

If those numbers hold it could eclipse the massive revenue records (approximately $600 million) set by the 2015 mega fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The fight is already on pace to set the Las Vegas fight wager record. Bookmakers expect Saturday’s fight to exceed $60 million. About $10 million more than May-Pac took in.

If I weren’t in the industry, I wouldn’t even pay in the form of attention to this event. So, if you don’t mind let me know what happens. I won’t be watching.

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