Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Mayweather and McGregor Circus

So the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is on.

The forty-year-old Mayweather is arguably the greatest fighter of his generation and is certainly one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time while twenty eight-year-old McGregor, a professional mixed martial arts fighter is the reigning lightweight champion of the UFC.

Both men are considered braggarts and have consistently proved themselves to be the biggest draws in their respective sports. Before retiring in 2015, Mayweather achieved the stunning feat of having earned $700 million dollars in his career, while McGregor is the biggest money generator in the UFC franchise.

With 49 wins and no losses, many remained sceptical that Mayweather would permanently retire without leaving the sport with a record of fifty wins and no losses; the idea being to surpass the 49-0 career record of the heavyweight Rocky Marciano.

Often accused of carefully choosing his opponents on the basis of obtaining maximum financial gain at the least risk, many in the boxing fraternity see his choice of McGregor as continuing this strategy.

The Mayweather-McGregor match bears something of a resemblance to two other prominent contests in boxing history.

The first is the world heavyweight championship bout held in 1957 between the reigning titleholder Floyd Patterson and a fighter who like McGregor was making his professional debut. The difference is that unlike McGregor who had a very limited career as an amateur boxer, Peter Rademacher was an experienced amateur boxer who had won gold for the United States at the Melbourne Olympics.

Although Rademacher succeeded in knocking Patterson down in the second round of the scheduled 15-round bout, the champion recovered to score seven knockdowns en route to a sixth round knockout victory.

The bout is being held under Marquis of Queensberry Rules and is not a hybrid one. Mayweather would of course not be in a position to compete with a high level mixed martial artist able to employ kicking and grappling techniques as part of his trade in the UFC’s ‘Octagon’ cage. Also out of the equation when setting up this confrontation was a special rules contest which would enable McGregor to make use of carefully prescribed martial arts techniques.

This was the situation in the contest between heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and the Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki held in Tokyo in June of 1976. Inoki, who was proscribed from grappling or launching jump kicks, lay on his back for much of the 15-round event while aiming kicks at Ali. He connected a few times to Ali’s legs which were enough to cause Ali wounds and two blood clots.

One has to presume that Mayweather has a penalty clause written into the fight contract that would severely penalise McGregor for utilising any of his mixed martial arts skills to either intimidate Mayweather in the clinches or to enable himself a face-saving disqualification if he is being made to look totally inept by Mayweather’s technique or indeed if he finds himself on the verge of being knocked out.

It is the considered opinion of most in the boxing world that despite his advantages in terms of youth and size, McGregor has less than the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell against Mayweather under boxing rules. While McGregor has demonstrated tremendous striking skills in his UFC career, few give him what in boxing parlance is referred to as a ‘punchers chance’.

The fight will have a tremendous buildup with both men drumming up interest through touring media conferences and soundbites which will be replete with braggadocious sentiment and ‘trash talking’.

It will be something of a pantomime circus but is expected to generate record amounts at the live gate as well as from the per-per-view market.

This is strictly a money making exercise.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2017)

Adeyinka Makinde is the author of DICK TIGER: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal and JERSEY BOY: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula. He is also a contributor to the forthcoming Companion to Boxing to be published by Cambridge University Press.

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