Press Box: The Spectacle of Mayweather v. McGregor

 

 

Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather just don’t get the respect they deserve.

To be sure, the word “respect” should be interpreted in a strictly business-oriented sense here, because neither man’s character warrants much admiration.

Mayweather’s dirty laundry has been aired extensively. His long history of domestic violence allegations — he’s served multiple jail sentences and shelled out millions of dollars in settlement money — paints a vivid picture of Floyd’s violent personality.

What’s more, recent clashes with the IRS over alleged tax evasion have many speculating as to just what the 40-year-old Mayweather has been up to with his vast fighting fortune. “Money” Mayweather has lived under the public spotlight far too long for him to front any kind of calculated persona at this point.

We know who he is. We know what’s he’s done — and we will still watch him fight Saturday night.  

The 29-year-old McGregor entered this circus as much more of a dark horse. The UFC-based Irishman had, before the Mayweather “hype tour” at least, developed a devoted following.

McGregor’s fans boasted of a rags-to-riches saga driven by bullying in high school and an unbending desire to prove doubters wrong. The 5’9’, 154-pound southpaw was never supposed to make it past training in his garage. Yet, McGregor flaunted an Ali-esque confidence in the faces of much more experienced opponents, and fans ate it up.

Everybody loved the kid, and he raked in even more admirers every time he backed up his trash talk.    

However, the seemingly loveable McGregor lost many of his sympathizers during the fight’s third press conference in Brooklyn, when he was asked whether he and Mayweather were pushing the “race narrative” of the fight.

“A lot of people have me saying I’m against black people. That’s absolutely ridiculous,” McGregor said. “Do they not know I’m half black? I’m half black from the belly button down. I have a present for the beautiful, black female fans in the crowd.”

As if that wasn’t enough, McGregor proceeded to gyrate his hips on stage.

Granted, with armed white supremacists marching in our state and the White House failing to denounce them, racially-driven penis jokes from an Irishman can plausibly be taken with a grain of salt these days.

But these are nevertheless incredibly immature and insensitive comments that reveal to us the true personality beneath McGregor’s heroic persona.

We know who he is. We’ve heard all the crap he has to say — and we will still watch him fight Saturday night.

So, hear me out. I’m not asking anybody to respect these audaciously disrespectful men as human beings. Not many people do at this point.

What I am asking is that you recognize them as the genius, maniacal businessmen that they are — because, as we all begin another work week, they will be licking their wounds and laughing all the way to the bank. The extent to which their evil perpetuates their success must be recognized.

The reality that needs to be illuminated is that, whether we like it or not, this will be a seminal moment for professional fighting. The waning world of boxing will be fused with the upstart aura of UFC to produce a ratings-dynamo capable of bringing much needed vitality into a corner of sports which has come under fire since the horrors of concussion-induced CTE were brought to public light.

More importantly, we need to recognize that everything has been calculated. Everything has been thought out. Everything about this fight — from the media splashes to the tax evasion comments to the racial narrative quips — has been premeditated. These are business geniuses who have made fortunes largely off of exploiting and maintaining their larger-than-life public personas.

Yes, they ran with whatever narrative presented itself to them. Make no mistake, they know exactly what they are doing. They will say and do anything to make more people pay to watch them fight.    

Because all Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather will ever care about is their bottom line.  

Nine figures, people. That’s the bottom line here — NINE. FIGURES. PEOPLE.

Forbes agrees with both fighter’s depiction of their paydays.. Mayweather will  rack in a reported ~300 million-dollar check, while McGregor has settled for a paltry ~100 million.

We know who they are. We know what they’ve done. We’ve heard everything they have to say — and we, the American public, will pay them hundreds of millions of dollars to fight for us Saturday night.

No, not even to fight for us. This will be a spectacle, something much closer to a WWE match than a real fight.

And we will eat it up.  

Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather just don’t get the respect — or the hate — they deserve.

But they’re not worried about it.

 

Zach Joachim

Sports Editor

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