The superfight between Mayweather and McGregor is picking up momentum. Both fighters have been flirting about a possible fight on social media for months but it is only recently that official confirmations have started to surface, with Dana White telling The Herd that negotiations should be wrapped up with McGregor “in the next couple of days“. With the ball rolling, inevitably questions have turned to how much each fighter is going to earn.“It depends on how much the fight sells,” White said. “And if the fight sells as well as I think it can, Floyd makes a little north of $100 (million) and Conor makes $75 (million).
No doubt, it is going to be record breaking. After all, both fighters are record breakers, with McGregor at the forefront for the UFC’s all time best gate and attendance records and Mayweather shattering the pay-per-view record in Boxing; his bout with Pacquiao totaled an estimated 4.6 million buy rate. With a ridiculous amount of money involved, both fighters were always going to be interested. But it’s not just the money that is doing the talking. The fight has been deemed “approvable” by Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett. “There’s no reason not to approve this fight. Conor is not a boxer? Alright. Meanwhile, in the cage he’s knocked 17 guys out. In terms of boxing, it’s an approvable fight.” Bennett told MMA Fighting.
So the money is tantalizing, the fighters are ready to negotiate and the process needed to pass an MMA fighter to compete in professional boxing has been giving an enthusiastic initial thumbs up. Everything seems to be falling into place. One small problem, it’s going to be a absolutely pointless fight.
That’s a statement bound to ruffle many feathers, especially among the legions of fans each fighter has. How could you not be excited about this fight? One is a knockout artist, the other is the greatest defensive boxer of all time. Both are masterful counterpunchers. The problem is how different each style of striking is between the two sports. So much so that there’s no point in thinking McGregor will really be able to showcase his best, if that’s the case the whole premise of the fight goes down the toilet.
Let’s start with the major differences, the first pertains to stance. In MMA, the hips have to be more square and forward when compared to a typical boxing stance. This is more effective in defending against kicks and takedowns, whilst also allowing the back leg to kick quicker. Boxing, in comparison, tends to favor longer stances which turn the hips outward and leave more weight on the front foot. The idea is to make the body as small a target as possible and also adds more range to the jab. This may not seem to be too much of a problem for McGregor with regards to adapting to this style, but it underlines the type of world he is coming from. The whole point of this fight is anchored in how good McGregor is at striking, his knockouts and how entertaining he is. The natural inclination is to want to see him compete with a purebred boxer. The mistake is in not taking into consideration how much more open fighters tend to be for punches in the octagon due to other defensive duties, when compared to boxers in the ring. It’s a factor which should gives us pause in assuming McGregor’s style and success will carry over to the ring.
The distance each fighter is used to training will certainly have an impact. Again, it’s due to issues like kicks and takedowns which cause MMA athletes to maintain a longer distance than boxers. Being comfortable in the pocket is Mayweather’s speciality. He has mastered it. By contrast, McGregor will have spent a significant portion of time training a distance which emphasizes his lightning quick and hard hitting hands, whilst allowing reactions to grapplers and kickboxers. Most of the training McGregor has put in may well turn out to be irrelevant against a professional boxer who owns the immediate distance. Another worry will be McGregor’s stamina. MMA just doesn’t see the volume of punches that boxing does, no doubt largely down to the larger distance fighters tend to keep. How will he fair in a sport with significantly more punches per fight? Especially when questions of stamina have already been raised in the past. Let’s not forget how Conor gassed in his first fight with Diaz after going for broke in an attempt at a first round knockout. It’s unlikely that he will be afforded to time to regain his breathe in the fashion of the Diaz rematch. The differences in stance and distance are so significant, there’s no reason to think McGregor can replicate the same sort of success in boxing. In all likelihood, it’s going to be a different world.
Such questions may only serve to entice the fight even more. These are interesting questions and perhaps if McGregor wasn’t fighting an opponent who is king in controlling opponents, it may still be worth the money to watch. Unfortunately, he’s not fighting any boxer. Mayweather excels at neutralizing the opponents arsenal. When it’s an open question whether his opponents arsenal even transfers over to a boxing in the first place, where exactly is the excitement coming from? His record is perfect, his style has never been thrilling and dangerous; more methodical and controlling. We have seen this story play out many times where Mayweather slowly but surely picks out the spaces that start to appear the longer the fight goes.
None of this should be news. It was almost cliché to note how easily each fighter would beat the other in their respective sports when the rumors first began. Professional boxers, admittedly unsurprisingly, don’t think McGregor has a chance. Ricky Hatton told iFL TV: “It’s two totally different sports and I think Mayweather would win by an absolute shutout… I struggled nailing him, Canelo struggled nailing him, De La Hoya struggled nailing him. No disrespect (but) I can’t see Conor doing it“. Hatton isn’t the only British boxer to echo these sentiments, with Amir Khan telling Fight Hype “It’s not a mis-match but it’s Mayweather all day long”. Even MMA’s own Dana White isn’t impressed with fight, acknowledging to Colin Cowherd of The Herd; “at the end of the day, does this fight make a ton of sense for me? It really doesn’t. The UFC is too street smart not to back money of this fight, yet when hundreds of millions are being nonchalantly thrown around it’s main representative is still not sold on it. In a sport where money talks, that should tell you loud and clear why this fight is pointless to everyone except the fighters themselves.
McGregor is an MMA phenom. He was taken over the sport and dominated wherever he has gone. He is at his scintillating best in the Octagon, not in a boxing ring. As every commentator and his dog have noted ad nauseum;they are two different sports. When novel fights are made on the whims of entertaining smack talk, both sports are damaged. We should be putting fighters in environments when they perform to their best. At any rate, both will make enormous amounts of money and walk away with their head held high. The public will be roped into a fight which was never really for the fans, it was for a select few and their wallets.