Floyd Mayweather Jr. was at his most Mayweather on Saturday, announcing to a crowd in England that he planned to come out of retirement to fight the UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in June. In what should be called Mayweathering, the boxer called out, lectured and challenged his potential opponent, making the fight seem likely, if only McGregor would come to his senses.
We’ve seen this movie before, of course. It’s straight from the Mayweather playbook for hyping up a fight. That his announcement ignored some important details Mayweather vs McGregor Live ontract with the UFC, for instance—mattered to the boxer not even a little bit. What mattered is what has always mattered to Mayweather: eyeballs, publicity, relevance—and how all that can be translated into cash.
This column, just the fact that I’m writing it at all, is proof of Mayweather’s marketing genius. The bout itself, should it happen, would be less of an actual fight and more of a publicity stunt, an event that would drive record traffic and vacuum-suck attention and end up like most Mayweather fights, in a unanimous decision that’s criticized as boring by those who don’t appreciate Mayweather’s defensive acumen.Would I still cover it? I hope so.
That’s the rub with Mayweather, always has been, forever will be. Fans can hate the match-up. Hate the domestic violence record. Hate the cockiness, hate the hype cycle, hate the jewelry stashed and the money flashed. But they still watch, read and listen to Mayweather on repeat. This is exactly what he wants: maximum exposure and profit while minimizing risk as much as possible. That’s not to say Mayweather hasn’t taken risks, fought champions, or earned his Hall of Fame career. He’s just strategized through all of it.
We might want this story to go away but it will not. At the Super Bowl in Houston, a Mayweather vs McGregor Fight insider insisted the champion would fight and in June. No one would confirm that. Boxing executives cited wide gulfs in negotiations, thousands of details yet to be worked out. McGregor flew to Las Vegas, ostensibly to negotiate with Mayweather at his home in person, but left without a contract. The Telenovela continued on.
I spoke with Stephen Espinoza, the general manager of Showtime Sports, on Saturday evening. He had been flying to Austin for The South by Southwest festival and landed to 38 or so Mayweather-related text messages. The boxer’s comments were “a little bit of a surprise,” Espinoza said, adding, “But he’s been pretty aggressive in making clear he wants the fight. That’s the first time I’ve really heard him say it publicly, explicitly, like that.”
Floyd Mayweather has insisted he is “officially coming out of retirement” to fight Conor McGregor
Does that mean the bout is likely? “Maybe (what Mayweather said) is the final psychological barrier to people taking this seriously,” Espinoza said. “He removed the last shadow of doubt about his intentions. It’s up to everyone now to come together.
As for the likelihood of that, Espinoza said, “At this point, the one loose end is really the UFC and whether they are interested in letting the fight happen. We’ve let that part be handled by Conor and the UFC. They have relationships contractual and otherwise. Once they get that done we can move pretty quickly and make this happen.”MMA is more like wrestling than boxing, or more like boxing mixed with wrestling and ju-jitsu, and that’s why wrestlers or kickboxers or martial artists transition into UFC stardom, not boxers.
Even if it happens—and that seems way more likely today than yesterday—let’s be clear here Mayweather vs McGregor Live Stream is a bad idea. It’s taking two things that seem similar on the surface—mixed martial arts and boxing—and pretending they’re sort of the same thing when they’re not. Both sports involve combatants who want to punch each other in the face. But that’s where the similarities end.