On June 26, 1976, Muhammad Ali stepped into a ring in Tokyo watched by 1.5 billion people around the world in a fight labelled ’bout of the century’. no, it wasn’t against Foreman, Frazier, Liston or Norton. It was a Japanese wrestler called Antonio Inoki.
A freak show fight Japanese MMA fans will be familiar with played out and was labelled a con job. Ali was paid 6 million for the bout which left fans screaming for their money back feeling cheated. 40 years and change removed from that event we have a similarly bizarre fight on the horizon. A fight betweenFloyd Mayweather jr vs Conor Mcgregor, the biggest names in boxing and MMA has seemingly captured the world’s imagination in the last year to the point where the money involved is staggering and its almost impossible to not make happen by all involved.What started off as what looked like a verbal back and forth by the shrewd promotional prodigies to keep their names in the news cycle has snowballed into a frenzy that has the media around the world in addition to both casual and hardcore fans of boxing and MMA alike talking non-stop about it.
The biggest obstacle in the early murmurs of this fight happening was the UFC. The UFC in its 23 year history has ruled over its fighters with an iron fist and has often taken draconian measures in keeping control of their fighters but since the sale of the UFC by Zuffa to WME the new owners have rather large debt obligations in the first few years of their ownership to meet so this may look far more attractive to WME than it would have to The Fertitta family. For Mcgregor it is a no brainer, as he described it in the past ‘dancing around a ring for 100 million dollars’ he will make 5 times what he would in any MMA contest and he is in a situation where he is so up against it that a loss means absolutely nothing. In Floyd’s case, he gets to get in the ring with a man who has never had a professional boxing match and potentially will make more than he has in any other contest in his storied and money-laden career.
For Mcgregor it is a no brainer, as he described it in the past ‘dancing around a ring for 100 million dollars’ he will make 5 times what he would in any MMA contest and he is in a situation where he is so up against it that a loss means absolutely nothing. In Floyd’s case, he gets to get in the ring with a man who has never had a professional boxing match and potentially will make more than he has in any other contest in his storied and money-laden career.
The fight still has many details to iron out but the check marks keep getting ticked off as the weeks and months run on. What was total fantasy 6 months ago now seems like it is approaching reality Mcgregor has got a boxing license and solved his issues with Nevada over the silly bottle throwing incident that preceded the last Nate Diaz contest.He has Also worked out the even sillier 125k fine that followed and bartered it down to 25k after vowing to never fight in Nevada again.
Drug testing will likely be done by USADA who run UFC’s anti Doping program and Floyd has also used them in the past over Vada so no conflict similar to the Manny Pacquiao fight should arise from drug testing. Floyd has made Las Vegas his boxing home and hasn’t fought outside Nevada since 2005 so unlikely he will break from his 14 fight streak this time around. The UFC has recently signed a multiyear deal with the T-Mobile arena in Las vegas so logically that will be the agreed upon venue. Floyd has mentioned Russia as the hosts but I think that was more his keen fine-tuned sense of leverage at play than real talk.
The proposed weight for the fight is 147lbs. Mayweather is very comfortable at the welterweight mark and has fought up as high as 151lbs against Miguel Cotto. Mcgregor was the UFC 145lb featherweight champion until he was recently stripped by the UFC and also the promotions current 155lb history making 2 weight champ. based on Floyd’s past he will be very aware that McGregor has trouble getting as low as he once did and in negotiations will look to get Mcgregor as low as possible in similar circumstances to when he weight drained a starving Canelo Alvarez. I don’t expect Conor to balk too much about making 147lbs but between 147-150 is pretty much guaranteed. The glove size at 147lb would be 8 oz (or 10oz above) a 4 oz rise from MMA gloves and obviously, add to the difficulty landing clean shots and increase the ease of blocking punches which also heavily favors Mayweather greatly.
The question of the A side or B side and who gets the bigger slice of the pie will probably settle in at somewhere around 60/40 in Floyd’s favor and obviously with Conor being tied into a contract with the UFC they will take a fair percentage. The UFC president Dana white is set to meet Mcgregor in New York any day now after the birth of his incoming son. We do know Mcgregor and his coach have been busy planning a training schedule and have set up a specialized boxing gym just for the showpiece in the same industrial area as his SBG home on the Naas rd in Dublin.From the UFC’s side it could also be the carrot to get Conor into a new deal that is more favorable for them, Mcgregor suggested after Eddie Alvarez fight at UFC 205 ‘that shit was about to hit the fan’ and he wanted a stakeholding in the UFC going forward. There is no doubt that the UFC will take measures in negotiations for this crossover
From the UFC’s side it could also be the carrot to get Conor into a new deal that is more favorable for them, Mcgregor suggested after Eddie Alvarez fight at UFC 205 ‘that shit was about to hit the fan’ and he wanted a stakeholding in the UFC going forward. There is no doubt that the UFC will take measures in negotiations for this crossover fight to ensure they keep a hold of their most prized asset.
Boxers have already in the past made the crossover to MMA with absolutely no success, Specifically, Art Jimmerson who fought Royce Gracie at UFC 1 not landing a punch and getting submitted with little effort from the legendary Jiu-Jitsu specialist. James Toney also made the step into the octagon at UFC 118.The former 3 weight world boxing champion getting easily put to sleep by Randy Couture in one round.
Coches, boxers, MMA fighters, Commentators, Analysts and basically nobody involved in both sports think McGregor’s foray into boxing will go any different in reverse, the real question being asked is can he even be competitive. The suggestion and advice for McGregor ranged from getting on the inside and rough Mayweather up and be generally dirty to stay on the backfoot and don’t barge forward into the master counter punchers clinical counter right hand. The answer to that puzzle could certainly be both. staying out of mid range is prob McGregor’s best bet to make something happen in the 1st 3-4 rounds, being on the outside with his reach and size advantage or smothering and dirtying the fight up.
No boxer has been able to solve this puzzle in 49 fights so the prognosis is pretty grim in terms of expecting to see anything competitive. For the millions of fans wanting to watch and waiting for an announcement it’s likely to speed up in the next 30 days after McGregor meets Dana White in New York, The expectation is it will be in September and Showtime are all but nailed on to be the broadcast partners for this event but good luck to any regular fan trying to get a ticket for this as this could snowball easily into similar ticket prices as Mayweather vs Pacquiao where close to ringside seats went on the secondary Market for two hundred thousand dollars Both men are equally motivated by the green dollar and are sure to milk this for everything its worth.
It is sure to be a huge spectacle as both fighters will use their sharp wit in the build up and my only real advice to fans is to grab a beer and enjoy it for what it is…entertainment