I had successfully stopped myself repeatedly, until now, from chiming-in or commentating on the debacle that will be taking place on August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena, in Nevada, between MMA star Connor McGregor and boxing maestro Floyd Mayweather, partly due to me viewing the bout as not only a mismatch, but also a ‘circus act’ that damages the sport of boxing overall.
But, with the Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor hype-machine in overdrive on social media and encouraged by recent footage released of a sparring session between the brazen MMA star and a past-his-best and out-of-shape ex Welter-Weight boxing champion in one Pauli Malignaggi, it would be hard for even the most ardent and hardcore boxing spectator not to capitulate an opinion on the upcoming fight and its outcome.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of both Floyd and Connor in terms of their fighting ability within their respective sport, and find McGregor’s attitude and confidence to challenge the best at ‘anytime’ and at ‘any weight(within reason)’, in swift fashion, a ‘breath of fresh air’.
A disposition that is lacking in boxing and could do with more in all honesty.
I also like Connor’s holistic view of fighting per-se, in much the same manner that martial arts legend Bruce Lee endorsed, i.e. not being bound by convention or strict systems of fighting: helping to promote an attitude in modern MMA that for me harkens back to the days of the UFC while it was still in nascent development and when Royce Gracie and co were challenging a menagerie of martial arts styles instead of the usual Muay Thai/Ju-Jitsu/Wrestling/Boxing combination so prevalent in contemporary MMA.
Apart from the ludicrous amount of money on offer for fighting Floyd, his open-minded thinking towards fighting in this regard might also be one of the reasons that he believes he can upset the odds and win against Mayweather.
Following that train-of-thought: he might also be emboldened by the success his idol Bruce Lee had in the past when challenging boxers while still in his youth, but the difference here is that Lee was an avid practitioner from a young age of a close-combat style of martial arts called Wing Chun, that largely concentrates on hand-strikes and which no doubt would have helped a lot in any conversion to fighting in a boxing contest.
However, Lee’s opposition of British Army champs isn’t quite on the same level as an ex Olympian and five-weight pro world champion though.
And, although I am not that much impressed by both men’s ‘nouveau riche’ antics out of the ring to promote their brand and fight(s), and the surrounding ego massaging from sycophants, I do understand the modern-day outlook in the vain world of social media, the ‘capitalist dream’ and the flawed appeal in the message intertwined in their parvenu gasconade and also the role it can play in drawing attention and boosting popularity for the sport, their profile and bank balance, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
If your a fan of their ostentatious bragging and like watching Mayweather arrange and tower stacks of cash like a Lego enthusiast suffering with OCD or McGregor posting pictures of himself in expensive, loud and terribly colored designer attire or sports cars on social media, then you’ll probably be in for a treat post August 26th when both men will stand to make a triple digit fortune in dollars on the backs of the poor dupes bamboozled by the hype. So, expect a forthcoming litany of social media selfies from ‘Money May’ and ‘Money McGregor’ in the aftermath of this charade platforming new trinkets, toys and garb purchased with the fight’s ‘loot’ for all us average peasants/fans in the gutter to fawn over in reverence.
There’s also speculation that their fight could set a new record and smash all PPV records of any combat event in history, including the $500 million generated by the Mayweather vs Pacquaio bout.
If that turns out to be true, then the event should also go into the history books as the biggest case of burglary since the Hatton Garden jewellery raid.
Anyone paying the 90$ U.S. PPV fee for a novelty fight such as this has not only been robbed of their cash, but also of their senses.
A HUNDRED MILLION FOR A ONE IN A MILLION CHANCE
Let’s be truthful . . . what chance does McGregor have with very limited boxing experience against a defensive great who still appears to be not that far removed from his peak?
The axiom ‘repetition is the mother of all skill’ springs to mind here and Floyd’s been going through his boxing repertoire since he was
4-years of age to adulthood where he beat modern boxing greats in Oscar De La Hoya, Cotto, Mosley and Pacquiao at the apex of his career.
In MMA about 20-25% of the fighting is stand-up using fists. In boxing it’s 100%.
As if it wasn’t one-sided enough, unbelievably McGregor is going into this fight without a tune-up bout. And, I doubt that foolhardy approach was down to the confidence of not needing one and more the fear of a loss derailing any access to the hefty pay-day offered by hitching a ride on the Mayweather moneytrain.
I am not doubting McGregor’s fighting courage here in any sense, far from it, more highlighting the extent of lunacy he is willing to aspire to secure a heightened level of business prosperity.
Make no mistake – Mayweather could seriously damage McGregor in this fight. Floyd might not be known as a powerful puncher or KO artist in boxing, but I’ve no doubt he has enough ‘pop’ in his punch to make the upper-echelon in boxing think twice let alone an MMA fighter who might not have the punch resistance levels that even the average pro boxer possesses.
Floyd also has the ‘engine’ to produce and sustain a high level of power output in his blows from rounds 1 to 12.
What good is having exorbitant amounts of cash if you could end up bereft of your mental faculties and good-health needed to spend it?
FIGHT FIRST ASK QUESTIONS LATER
Not that it would have probably mattered much, but McGregor should have at the very least taken a tune-up no matter his vast experience of fighting in the Octagon, to get a feel for fighting in a boxing ring under the sport’s rule-set. MMA fights alone are not enough to prepare him for these conditions with an average pro boxer let alone a true ‘All Time Great’.
If this fight were to be fought under MMA rules, then I would have no doubt McGregor would opt to ‘wipe the floor’ with Floyd by stalking him and kicking those ‘skinny little legs’ (as the Irishman calls them) into a bruised and bloodied pulp until he slowed or was unable to move properly(in similar fashion to what he did in the 2nd Nate Diaz fight)then move in on him rather than using his fists from the outset.
Floyd’s defensive tactics like the ‘shoulder roll’ would be rendered void or almost useless in the Octagon.
In a boxing ring it’s a different story.
There’s no facility for kicking to the legs or any provision for a take-down when your opponent is compactly swiveling his body to evade punches or trapped against the ropes to nullify the type of defense employed by the unbeaten fighter.
Those lean athletic legs that Connor mocks is tailored made for boxing, not the Octagon. Ask the bull-like Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez if being thickly-set matters all that much against Mayweather in a boxing ring.
You can’t hurt what you can’t hit.
Floyd’s not only great in defense, he’s also a brilliant counter-puncher and rhythm fighter who has superb timing, accuracy and radar like ability in spotting incoming blows, flaws or repetition in an opponents work in which to capitalize on.
How McGregor with his limited boxing experience at this stage can overcome this remains to be seen?
Realistically McGregor has only 4 attributes in his favor going into this fight: power, confidence, youth and unpredictability.
The latter is one of the ‘main keys’ needed in order to decipher the so called ‘May-Vinci’ code. But unpredictability alone isn’t enough, it has to be backed-up with a good boxing IQ, speed and sharpness in order for its potential to be realized at the maximum level needed for success against opposition of Mayweather’s caliber.
Ask Floyd about his hardest fights and the late Emanuel Augustus will invariably be mentioned somewhere in that list of challengers who pushed ‘Pretty Boy’ beyond the norm. A man who went under the nickname of the Drunken Master and who had a style that was in a way reminiscent of the Drunken Fist(Zui Quan) Kung Fu method of fighting.
Augustus gave Floyd problems with his unconventional and unusual approach, but also possessed a boxing IQ and specific attributes tailored for the sport that augmented that unorthodoxy.
Connor too will bring an element of unpredictability, due to him fighting for so long in a stance that suits MMA, and as a result of that may present unusual angles for Floyd that could bring success or risk depending on how well Connor executes his blows.
Malignaggi can allude to this.
But the problem here though is that Connor, while putting aside his propensity for switch-hitting, has a mainly come forward predictable type of approach that I believe won’t take long for Mayweather to work out, as Floyd is well accustomed to fighting on the back-foot against powerful and strong come-forward type aggressors.
Connor won’t bring an awkward style or unorthodoxy like say a Pernell Whitaker in this regard, who I believe with his improvised and ornate style of boxing would had given Mayweather major problems had they fought.
Some of the Irishman’s ‘faithful’ have mentioned the MMA fighter’s southpaw stance as being a potential problem for Floyd, but you only have to look at how he handled Zab Judah(a fighter who was admittedly giving him a number of problems in their fight up until the 5th round) to get an idea how much a counter-stance bothers him.
The jab is another key to unraveling Mayweather. Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto proved the success of this in their bouts with the Grand Rapids, Michigan born native. But, Connor doesn’t possess the rapier and razor-like jab of Oscar De La Hoya nor the speed and sharpness of punch which made Judah formidable from his southpaw stance.
Another factor worth mentioning in determining the outcome of this fight is stamina. Floyd has went the distance of 12 x 3 minute rounds for a vast portion of his fights. Under UFC rules the MMA star was fighting 5 x 5 minute rounds and has only went the distance a handful of times.
Not only is a boxing match longer, there’s also a disparity in tempo and the energy expenditure is different.
And, even though McGregor is doing a lot of cycling and stamina work for this fight, Floyd will not only be doing similar in terms of preparation but he also has the advantage of having had more boxing experience regarding endurance and ‘going the distance’.
Stamina will be a very important factor in this fight for McGregor, because he will have to set an uncomfortable pace that won’t allow for Floyd to get into a comfort zone and provide the opportunity for him to think or to dictate the fight on his terms.
It’s a quandary fighting Floyd on the front-foot(which is Connor’s only sane option) with any success, because you have to set a pace where it not only unsettles him but also doesn’t allow for any over-extending that could provide him with any meaningful avenue to counter amid the exertion . . . .
Basically, you need to employ the educated aggression only a Roberto Duran could bring to a fight in order to have a chance at winning.
And Connor’s no Duran when it comes to boxing.
If he(Connor) gasses and Floyd’s still fresh at any point in the fight then it’s definitely game-over. Mayweather’s far too sharp and accurate a fighter for there to be any vulnerabilities here.
The Irishman has been giving predictions that he will K.O. Floyd early and to be honest that is his only option no matter how unlikely that may sound, as I think it’s self-evident that McGregor can’t box Floyd on the back-foot and his only chance in this fight is if he can somehow find a way going-forward to upset Floyd’s rhythm and make the fight awkward in order to position himself to land a knockout blow. Which to date no-one has managed.
I also don’t see Floyd’s advanced age of 40 and his ring in-activity being that much of a factor either, as he doesn’t drink or smoke, keeps in decent shape when he isn’t in camp, and most importantly has very little ring wear-and-tear. And if anyone thinks a few years off might be an issue, I’d encourage them to go watch his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez and see if you detect any ring-rust in his performance against the highly-skilled Mexican technician.
If Floyd has suddenly aged overnight then McGregor has a great chance.
Ironically, McGregor’s at times hilarious and condescending antics in the press conferences in the build-up to this fight has not only boosted his PPV numbers and the cash that comes with it astronomically, but he has also added to what was already insurmountable odds against him by seemingly riling Mayweather to an extra level of motivation and who looks in excellent shape as a result weeks out from the fight.
It’s true that Mayweather, for once in the build-up to a fight, looked subdued and a bit more muted than normal in the face of Connor’s amusing swaggering and bravado, and for some it might have looked like Floyd had lost the mind-games here. But, if anything, the supremely confident and fearless flaunting meted out by the Irish MMA star has probably put a little bit of fear into the 5-weight world champion, and, as a sub-sequence, brought an extra-edge and clarity of the task-at-hand to his game that will serve to aid rather than impede in the build up to fight-night.
EVERYONE’S A WINNER . . . EXCEPT BOXING
With that said – regardless the outcome on August 26th – the real loser from this fight however won’t be Floyd or McGregor: it will be boxing.
It must be galling for any pro-boxer out there busting their guts everyday in the gym to see someone from another combat sport cross-over on a whim and get top-billing, all the accolades that follow and a ticket to the Mayweather gravy-train without having to prove themselves beforehand in a boxing ring.
It’s an affront and farce to every pro boxer and fan that the Nevada State Athletic Commission could allow for a fight of this stature to take place so prematurely and with a seeming disregard to any health and safety issues that could arise due to a disparity in boxing skill and experience between the two.
Bottom-line: Floyd’s proven himself in a boxing ring. Connor hasn’t.
The money generated from this circus-show will presumably encourage more similar spectacles likes this in the future and who knows we might even see hybrid-events borne of it, helping to put another nail in the coffin of the sport?
I am not here to bash Connor in any personal capacity, as I respect and admire what he has done in MMA and for having the courage to not only cross-over – removed from his comfort-zone – to another discipline, but to also challenge the best there is in that domain. I also consider him skill-wise as approaching a commensurate level of talent as Floyd Mayweather, but only in the world of MMA at this point should he continue winning the way he has been in that combat-sport.
If McGregor manages to win on Saturday 26th of August in Nevada and proves me wrong, then I might never watch boxing again, burn every boxing book I have and delete this website.
Floyd doesn’t just have the ‘weight on his shoulders’ of defending a zero on his record, he will also be defending boxing’s rich history and pedigree in this match, due to his standing in the sport, and defending boxing’s popularity against another competitor in MMA which is increasingly eating into boxing’s market share in combat-sports.
This fight might be as much about MMA vs Boxing, as it is about Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor.
The down-side of this match-up is if Connor loses then it won’t affect MMA that much. But, if Floyd were to lose it would be a ‘big blow’ to boxing.
In short: boxing doesn’t need novelty fights like this. Boxing needs more sincere Canelo Alvarez vs Genaddy Golovkin type fights.
So, while Connor and Floyd try to ‘steal the show’ while ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ with this poor pugilistic simulacrum, they could also in a way be stealing boxing’s future from it too.