As good as Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are in a boxing ring or an octagon, where they’ve really excelled is in the pre-match hype.
People look at what went on last month during the four-day three-country press conference tour these two went on to promote this fight and they think they’re going to see these two try to tear each other’s heads off. However, I’m not buying into that.
Mayweather has become a master of earning huge paydays, not just by being an undefeated boxer standing atop the sport, but through manufactured prefight animosity between himself and his opponents.
In combat sports, the quickest way to get people to pay to see a fight is to make them think the two fighters hate each other and that it’s going to be a knock-down drag-out affair with one guy getting his hand raised and the other carried out on his shield. However, judging from Mayweather’s last high-profile contest against Manny Pacquiao, that’s likely not going to be the case.
When that bell rings, everything Mayweather does in the ring is cold and calculated and he wins not by trading his best shot with the other guy and testing each other’s chins. Instead, he uses his technical superiority to simply land more punches than the other guy and not get hit too hard, even if it means not landing his own best punches.
Both men claim that the other isn’t going to go the distance, but again to me that feels like empty hype. This isn’t going to be a Rocky Balboa type of fight where two men hit each other until one falls down and can’t get up any more. That may be McGregor’s style of fighting, but it just isn’t Mayweather’s.
Fox Sports reports that in McGregor’s 10 fights for UFC, he’s connected with 52.7 percent of his strikes while opponents have landed 47.7 percent of their strikes on him, and that includes fights with mixed martial artists whose best skills often lay in submissions and grappling rather than punching.
Mayweather on the other hand, landed 34 percent of his punches in the Pacquiao fight, while Manny’s punches connected on Floyd just 19 percent of the time, according to CBS Sports. Many opponents throughout Mayweather’s career haven’t fared even that well.
I could be wrong about this, as I’m certainly no boxing expert, but I look at this match and I fail to see how McGregor has any hope of being able to outpoint Mayweather. That means in order to have a chance to win, he’s going to have to score a knockout. So in that sense, part of the hype is real because unless myself and seemingly the rest of the world are severely underestimating McGregor as a boxer, he’s going to have to approach this contest with the mentality of a headhunter to have any chance of winning.
McGregor is a very good mixed martial artist. He’s 21-3 under those rules and currently holds the UFC Lightweight Championship. However, he’s never been in a professional boxing match. McGregor is renowned in UFC as a striker with a tough chin, but he’s stepping into the ring with a boxer who is undefeated in 49 professional fights and has long been popularly considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Mayweather is a very smart boxer, and at the level he performs, he has to know McGregor can’t beat him on the scorecards. So, he has to know that McGregor needs to land the knockout punch. That being the case, why wouldn’t he go into this fight with the same defensive strategy he executed in his fight against Pacquiao?
Mainstream sports fans bought so hard into the hype for that fight too, which reportedly generated more than $4.4 million in Pay Per View buys and more than $72 million in live attendance. As I recall, a great many of the people who watched that event were sorely disappointed with how it played out and expressed their frustration with the way Mayweather spent the bulk of the time dancing away and not engaging any more than he needed to in order to land the punches he needed to earn a decision.
To watch the Mayweather / McGregor fight on Pay Per View it’s going to cost $90, and tickets to be there in the crowd are currently priced on stubhub for the lowest available price of $1,650 to sit in the upper deck. Tickets on the floor level are priced at an eye-popping cost of between $15,000-150,000.
If you’re a fan that’s really into technical boxing, you’d be hard pressed to find a better fighter to spend your money watching than Mayweather. However, with the attention that this fight is drawing as a novelty event, a boxer vs. a mixed martial artist, it’s going to attract a lot more eyes beyond just boxing fans like the Battle of the Sexes tennis match did in 1973.
If you’re one of those fans who doesn’t watch a lot of boxing, but have seen the coverage of the press conferences on SportsCenter or on the internet and are thinking of watching this fight, you may want to adjust your expectations.
When it comes to it on Aug. 26, I’m fully expecting Mayweather to do what he does best and execute superior boxing technique and defense to win on the judge’s scorecards, and people wanting to pay $90 or more to see two guys try for 12 rounds to knock each other out could find themselves sorely disappointed.
Less than two weeks from the fight, betting odds are reportedly 55-1 in Mayweather’s favor. However, McGregor has what is commonly referred to as a puncher’s chance. He always has the potential to connect with that one big punch that shocks the world and finally puts the blemish on Mayweather’s perfect record that many people want to see.
Just don’t count on it.