Great food, good times, and lots of laughs: those are all you need to impress me. The last form of entertainment appeared to be lost from the boxing world for about a half decade, until now.
The boxer formerly known as “Pretty Boy,” now going by Floyd “Money” Mayweather, is set to step back into the boxing ring at the age of 40 in a non-title bout with an opponent who is simultaneously both his equal in many regards and not in the same stratosphere in others. His opponent is a man from Ireland who, after Ronda Rousey’s fall from grace, has become the face of MMA. Conor McGregor is 28 years old, in the prime of his career, and ready to defy the odds against the overwhelming favourite, Mayweather, in a sport he wouldn’t even be considered an amateur in. With all of that said, I will not watch a single live second of Mayweather versus McGregor next month.
The chief reason as to why I’m not enamoured with this fight boils down to this question: Who benefits from it?
Neither boxing nor mixed martial arts sees their stock rise with this fight. While the event is set to happen in the boxing ring, there are no titles on the line. The subcard may as well be non-existent. This is a prize fight that is all about bragging to the world. Both participants and their camps are set to pull hundreds of millions of dollars from the event in Las Vegas, which could reach another level depending on how many people feel the need to watch it from their couch, computer, phone, or local watering hole.
It’s understandable to recognize that many sporting and entertainment events come down to the dollars and cents. Other events, however, are better at diverting attention from the financial windfall to the sports themselves. While the Super Bowl is a major attraction, buying advertisements is costly but worthy, given how big the draw is. Players do get incentives the further they go into the NHL playoffs, yet people are more concerned with changes to the line-up more than what bonuses the players will receive when they raise Lord Stanley’s Mug.
What this fight does is remind the general public about showmanship. Of course, while the inflammatory barbs traded between the two featherweights is not exactly school appropriate, the fighters are trending on social media. They also made daily appearances on Sportscenter for a week to promote the fight. With each presser, you wonder how the two sides will up the ante, but they’re easily doing so with each insult, crossing the line into homophobia and racism. The press conference tour across North America has sparked outrage over and anticipation for a match that in reality should not be close.
Sadly, this fight benefits few people: the fighters, their respective camps, and the promotion company. A matchup between the two biggest talking heads sounded good as a barbershop debate yet was scoffed at when it became reality. While Mayweather will be in his 40s for the fight, he carries the title as the best boxer on the planet. Conor McGregor is a great MMA fighter who has employed many disciplines to become a star in the octagon, but he lacks the experience to be a credible threat between the ropes for Mayweather. While there is surely a segment of the public that is dying to see how it all unfolds, I would rather spend Saturday night doing just about anything else than aiding in the profits of either Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather.