In case you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that on August 26th, Floyd Mayweather will come out of retirement to face UFC champ Conor McGregor. The event marks the first time a boxer and mixed martial arts fighter will meet in a boxing match. Yet, that’s just the beginning this fight’s appeal. The biggest stars from both factions of combat sports are facing off and they also happen to the best showman/trash talkers in their respective sports. If the world-wide press tour didn’t show you that nothing will.
Yet, for all the hoopla bestowed on this bout, as Rocky Balboa would say “it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” As with any event of this magnitude there has been good, bad and just plain ugly about the fight otherwise known as MayMac.
Put simply, the fight raises the profile for both boxing and mixed martial arts. Everyone from your hardcore boxing and MMA fan to soccer mom will tune in to see this fight. Why? Novelty, it’s never been done. Second and no less important, the combatants have a talent for wearing the black hat. Everyone wants to see either McGregor or Mayweather get their ass handed to them. Yet, irrespective of the reasons, everyone is paying attention and that’s good for both sports. Boxing always seems to be in need of an increased approval rating, while MMA although on the rise, is still boxing’s little brother looking to show he’s his own man. Should the bout be competitive, you can be sure there will be more cross-pollination which could help combat sports on the whole.
Speaking of competitive, should the fight be a dud or in any way farcical, you can be sure each sport will suffer a black eye. Yet, both will likely recover. After all it wouldn’t be the first time either sport has stumbled, however, the fears of purists in both boxing and MMA will have been realized. For boxing, it’s the non-competitive affair many predicted it would be. For MMA, a comeuppance. Perhaps the ultimate lesson to stop trolling boxing for legitimacy. In the end both sports will have been denigrated, which ultimately is bad for both.
On a smaller level, there are the little side show drama’s erupting as we near the big day. One may cough it up to promotion, however, it would have no place in any other event of this magnitude. Case in point, the Paulie Malignaggi sparring debacle. While he disputes the account of being dropped in sparring, it’s not a good look for Malignaggi to be anywhere near the canvas against McGregor. And for McGregor, if Malignaggi’s account is true – you need to stop photo shopping your sparring sessions. Judge for yourself in the video below.
In case you haven’t seen the sound bites from the press conferences in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto or London, Mayweather and McGregor seem to be going the extra mile in an effort to insult one another, gain a psychological edge or simply sell the fight. Trash talk is all well and good, but in this case, it seems to be going to some dangerous places with racial innuendo and domestic abuse among the subject matter touched upon by the fighters. There are some places you just shouldn’t go. These press events seemed more like an episode of WWE Raw or Smackdown and by the end had many feeling like they had a hangover. At what point is this more circus than sport? The approach not only demeans each sport but tip toes into the social ills which seem all too prevalent today. So, it begs the question; how much is too much? Are we at a point where we strip away the dignity and respected norms for the sake of ratings? That is just plain ugly.