Opinion | Jan 21 2020

Conor and KSI: The debuts that shook up the boxing world

Conor McGregor is threatening to return to boxing again in 2020 for fights against either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. But how will he be welcomed?
Conor McGregor
Esther Lin/Showtime

BOXING, whether we like it or not, is fast becoming a playground for dreamers and those eager to play dress-up and perform on command for attention and gold coins. Something close to a travelling circus, its doors are always open, all manner of freaks are welcome, and the intrigue, even when we know the trick behind the magic, remains too great for anyone to look away.

In the last two years we have seen two fights – both involving just one recognised professional boxer – split the boxing world down the middle. They have caused some to worry about the sport’s future and others to claim it is brighter than it has been for some time.

The first of these, a 2017 mismatch between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, ended the way most expected – a tenth round stoppage win for Mayweather – but featured enough positive moments for McGregor, a UFC champion at featherweight and lightweight, for it to not appear as catastrophically one-sided as some had feared. This, as well as the sheer amount of money it generated, meant the gate was left open for others (and, gulp, a possible rematch).