Mayweather vs. McGregor is now set for August 26th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Every once in a great while, dream matches happen across the sports world and these matches are met with great acclaim. Every once in a great while, dream matches happen across the sports world with the outcome falling flat, and participants are met with endless ridicule. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were adversaries countless times on the gridiron, and no matter the outcome, the game was remembered as one for the ages. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird squared off in the NBA Finals on three different occasions (’84, ’85, and ’87), and this is remembered as the “Golden Era” of professional basketball. Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier three times (’71, ’74, and ’75), keeping fans on the edge of their seats with every bone-shattering, mind-altering, and life-changing punch.
Then again, there are matchups in which the hype overshadowed the result. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. bored fans for twelve rounds in 2015 and were met with nothing but criticism from critics and fans, alike. In 2013, Alabama and Notre Dame met in a highly anticipated BCS National Championship game that averaged 26.4 million viewers on ESPN and drew a 15.1 household rating. It was over by halftime.
However you look at it, these games all had one thing in common: They could actually happen.
On the most recent episode of Lineup MMA, Joe Warren, Ben Askren, and Sean Wheelock talked about the dream match that seems to be on the tip of all combat sports fans tongues at the moment. The hype surrounding a match such as the one being proposed needs this type of hype because more than likely, it is never going to happen.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. wants to fight UFC Lightweight Champion, Conor McGregor. That is correct…a crossover dream match. He wants McGregor in a boxing ring. Mayweather, along with McGregor and Dana White, wants to draw the biggest pay-per-view number in history.
Now, most MMA and boxing fans are too young to remember, but a similar venture took place in 1976. Muhammad Ali stepped into the wrestling ring with famed Japanese wrestler, Antonio Inoki in a combination boxing/wrestling contest at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. It did not go well. Confusing negotiations, special rules, and threats led to Antonio Inoki laying on his back for a majority of the fight, delivering blistering kicks to Ali’s legs. (You can check out clips on YouTube…you’ve been warned) While this wouldn’t be the case if McGregor agreed to a boxing match, it shows why a match of this type has been avoided for over 40 years.
With that being said, this matchup is trying to gain some traction. There are, however, several issues standing in the way when it comes to making this dream fight a reality.
Issue #1: MONEY
Dana White is prepared to offer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Conor McGregor $25 million with a percentage of pay-per-view buys going to each fighter. “Doesn’t look like this fight’s any closer,” said Sean Wheelock. But, Ben Askren disagreed. “I’d say it’s closer,” said Askren, biting back at Wheelock. “At least that’s a concrete offer.”
While it is a concrete offer, we are talking about a fighter who made over $200 million for slow dancing with Manny Pacquiao. A fighter who has made over $700 million in his boxing career. As noted by Joe Warren, $25 million might not be the number Mayweather had in mind for this matchup. “$25 mil(lion)is a slap in his face,” quipped Warren. “Grand Rapids kid…man, he did better than me.”
Issue #2: WILL PEOPLE WANT TO SEE IT?
When it comes to fights such as these, there has to be an audience. While boxing has seen better days, it is MMA and the UFC who are on the rise. There would most likely be a large audience, and for a multitude of reasons. “There is still this obsession with boxer versus grappler,” noted Wheelock, “and now it’s boxer versus MMA fighter.”
“I guarantee it’s the biggest fight PPV sell there is,” Joe Warren said, “period.”
It could be the biggest pay-per-view in history for several reasons. Neither fighter is what you would call the “darling” of their particular sport. Not many boxing fans like Mayweather’s style. Not many boxing fans like the way Mayweather flaunts his money. Not many boxing fans appreciate Mayweather referring to himself as the “Greatest of All-Time.” He is just not that likable. Boxing fans would tune in with the hopes of seeing him get knocked out.
Conor McGregor is ultimately in the same boat. Not many UFC fans like McGregor’s trash talking. Not many UFC fans think McGregor is the best fighter in his weight class. Not many UFC fans like how McGregor tends to disrespect his opponents. UFC fans would tune in with the hopes of seeing him get knocked out, as noted by Ben Askren. “A lot of people would buy it to watch McGregor get beat up,” said Askren. “I’d probably be in that camp.”
Issue #3: McGREGOR, THE BOXER?
It has been widely discussed that McGregor has been training with former IBO welterweight champ, Chris Van Heerden. According to Van Heerden, a very good fighter in his weight class, he was beating up McGregor. At this point, Freddie Roach has gone as far as to say it would take him three years to get McGregor ready for a boxing match with Mayweather. In three years, Mayweather would be 43 years old. And, McGregor is more than likely not prepared to step away from the octagon for three years just for one boxing match.
Issue #4: THE HYPE
In the end, this may be all hype, no substance. While it is fun to speculate, fight fans would best be served not to get their hopes up for a dream scenario pitting these media hounds against each other in a ring, or octagon of any kind.
“It’s a hype train,” Joe Warren said. “It’s a better hype train than some of the ones we get every year.”