Mayweather-McGregor: Make fun of the farce all you want, but you’ll be watching

Boxing fans, UFC fans, spectacle junkies and curiosity seekers will make this the most lucrative fight in history, with speculation pay-per-view revenue could top US$1 billion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 5:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 5:38pm

Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor was minted as real – the fight is set for August 26 in Las Vegas – and the moment that happened the gatekeepers of the sanctity of sports sprang into righteous action.

“What a farce!” the elitists and purists cried. “Made-up event! Won’t even be competitive! Money grab! Who’d pay to watch that? What a joke!”

To those acting as if Mayweather-McGregor is some sort of criminal travesty, instead of simply a novelty-event unworthy of outrage, get over yourselves, please.

The reaction has been comical.

First, no moral high road is available to fans of either sport. This brief shotgun marriage of boxing and mixed martial arts makes sense in that both endeavours are the modern yet archaic blood-sport progeny of gladiators in Roman arenas.

Fighting for our entertainment, whether in ring or octagon, is civilization’s barbaric outlier, as humanely logical as bullfighting.

Some fans of boxing and MMA may be offended this hybrid is happening, but I’m not sure which group should be more insulted by the association.

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This will be a boxing match, by the way, to Mayweather’s great advantage. In fairness, it should be a trilogy. The second bout would be under UFC rules, tipping the scale for McGregor.

Then, should a tiebreaker be needed, the third and deciding duel between the two pugilists would be a chess match, a spelling bee or perhaps a recitation of Shakespearean sonnets.

Sports have never been quite as serious as some of the gatekeepers would prefer.

This week’s NBA draft and the buildup to it have been hijacked by shameless self-promoter LaVar Ball. Baseball’s All-Star Game (which Miami will host next month) has seen the game itself usurped by the frivolity of the Home Run Derby. Even the No Fun League just relaxed its rules against end-zone celebrations.

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Enter Mayweather-McGregor. You’ll watch. And if you won’t, most of your neighbours will.

Boxing fans, UFC fans, spectacle junkies and curiosity seekers will make this the most lucrative fight in history, with speculation pay-per-view revenue could top US$1 billion with perhaps 10 million PPV buys on Showtime.

The existing record: 4.4 million for Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

Mayweather, though 40, is a huge 1-6 betting favourite, via Bovada, although money is flowing in on the underdog McGregor, 28.

“We have had up fight odds since November 2016 with the hope it would take place, and there has been non-stop McGregor money from being a 10-1 underdog to his current line as 4-1 underdog,” said Bovada sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley.

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“We expected more money to come in on McGregor, but not at this level. The overall money and wagers on this may rival the Super Bowl, if not bigger.”

Re-read that last sentence, please. Mayweather-McGregor isn’t all hype. The interest and appetite are real.

“When you talk about superfights, this is a superfight,” said UFC boss Dana White.

The fight taps old versus new and the boxing versus MMA rivalry but mostly is driven by two outlandish personalities – both men polarising, as disliked as they are popular.

How do McGregor’s fellow UFC fighters in Asia for Singapore Fight Night think he’ll fare against unbeaten Mayweather?

Mayweather is the money-minded braggart whose custom Rolls-Royce limousine is lined with chinchilla fur carpeting. McGregor is the bodacious, cocky Irishman.

Rarely have two athletes gone head to head in equal need of comeuppance, of humbling.

Only one can suffer that, and – guilty pleasure or not – the world will be watching to find out who.