Back in 2007, when boxing was still a marquee draw and the UFC was only starting to find its footing, two legends took to the ring in an epic, generational fight. A display of technical, raw talent that boxing purists had been salivating over for months. One Golden, one Pretty, Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya duked it out for 12 rounds to a split decision for Mayweather in the mecca of pay-per-view and glitzy opulence – the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. It was all about the fight in the lead up to the event, a US$130 million super bout with multiple storylines, including Mayweather’s disgruntled father looking to cash in on his illustrious DNA. In the end it was a great tilt, but more importantly, what it wasn’t, was a debacle. Eight years and a few months later, UFC fans were introduced to mixed martial arts’ next generational superstar. It took the “Notorious” Conor McGregor one punch and all of 13 seconds to knock out Jose Aldo and become a household name and an overnight sensation. McGregor was arguably at the pinnacle of his career inside the Octagon when he perched himself six feet above the ground post-fight and looked casually around the MGM Grand for his next opponent. Mayweather was supposed to hang up the gloves after his super fight with De La Hoya, and McGregor’s career after Aldo has seen him fight only four times in the UFC since 2015, two of which were losses. Put the duo’s 2017 boxing match aside and these two moneymaking machines have done little lately when it comes to their actual professions, albeit not to the detriment of either’s bottom lines. Dana White looking to get Conor McGregor on UFC 245 card – but no Dublin on December 14 The 42-year-old Mayweather has realised he can get paid just by teasing about fights rather than taking them. His recent no-show in China – where he was supposed to announce a 2020 exhibition bout against a local boxer – was typical of his antics of late. He earned US$9 million for 139 seconds of work when he knocked out the smaller Japanese kick-boxer Tenshin Nasukawa last New Year’s Eve. Advertising flashy wristwatches and stoking social media wars with Manny Pacquiao – Mayweather has cracked the code in passively generating income. Controversy sells, clickbait headlines draw advertising dollars, and actually fighting in a boxing match is kind of besides the point these days. In the McGregor camp, the 31-year-old is doing a similar dance. Tweeting about potential fights, whether it be against Khabib Nurmagomedov or some random person brought in off the streets, is much more important than actually climbing back into the Octagon. McGregor, who watched his prime fighting years evaporate in just over three rounds as Khabib broke down the Irish loudmouth limb by limb, is now no more than a “money draw” who is milking previous talent for prolonged exposure. He will probably never hold a title belt again, but the important thing to remember is that it is not expected to hurt Proper No 12 Irish Whisky sales. It’s not easy retiring from sport, especially when you were one of the greatest. Just ask Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan or even Brett Favre. Fans don’t have patience or empathy for anything other than a storybook ending, even though they should. However, one thing they shouldn’t have is their favourite fighter tugging on their heartstrings for revenue and not actually delivering. Nobody expects Mayweather or McGregor to head out to pasture, buy a plot of land and take fishing trips with their buddies as they reminisce and watch the sun set. These guys are conflict-oriented souls who thrive on controversy, friction and spotlight hogging. That’s all fine and dandy, as long as you back it up inside your respective ring or cage periodically so we don’t start thinking this is all just crying wolf. Alas, the numbers don’t lie and chances are both will be headline draws for a few more years, regardless of how much time they actually spend being pugilists. Ageing gracefully is a skill that requires reinvention. Fighters are not known for switching gears, and athletes in general can only be successful if they employ tunnel vision to their advantage. If it all goes to plan, McGregor could fight a much-improved Dustin Poirier early next year for a shot at redemption, and in a bid to remain in the title conversation. Mayweather is most likely to fight Donald Duck on the outskirts of Middle Earth, for all we know. While the Irishman needs a win desperately to stay relevant, Mayweather is simply diluting his legacy by fighting no names for pay cheques, given a final bout with Manny Pacquiao seems an expertly crafted optical illusion. I don't know what I should expect from these two; all I know is I'm exhausted and tired of reading headlines about them that don't include a fight recap. Riding off into the sunset is the most difficult thing for an athlete to do, though sad epilogues of superstars past their prime do nothing but create cringing and apathy. Mayweather and McGregor were once brilliant fighters who made me stop whatever I was doing and plan a whole weekend around their fights. Now I just wish they would go away so I could remember the good times like a glass of finely aged whisky – without a sucker punch to the face right after.