BOXING NEWS has doubt whatsoever that Floyd Mayweather will thrash Conor McGregor in the filthiest mismatch in boxing history. As a Nevada-sanctioned boxing event, one that pits an all-time great against a novice debutant in a 12-rounder, it absolutely stinks. And if you can smell it already, no amount of hype or misguided expectation will be able to cleanse your nostrils between now and August 26 when it takes place in Las Vegas. In fact, the stench is only going to get more and more pungent.
But not everyone will feel that way. By the time the ‘contest’ comes around, you, the most educated of combat sports fan, will be very much in the minority. You will be surrounded by people who will drive you to the brink of clawing-your-own-ears-off madness by insisting that the Irishman is going to win. Already, there are folk in our Newsquest office (who, I must stress, do not work for Boxing News) telling me I’m wrong to suggest Floyd, 49-0, will triumph at a canter. They talk about the 0-0 McGregor’s incredible will to win and his sense of destiny, his impressive striking and Mayweather’s (largely mythical) problem with southpaws. They also reference the American’s age, which at 40 obviously makes him ripe for a drubbing at the 28-year-old hands of McGregor.
The debate is all well and good for now. I don’t doubt the build-up, when McGregor becomes the loveable rogue to Mayweather’s arrogant bully, when the villainous American struggles to match the charming Irishman’s witty patter, will be an absolute hoot. And yes – as many within the boxing industry who should know better will point out in the coming weeks – our sport will have a light shone on it in the month of August more illuminating than anything we have experienced before. But the likes of the Nevada commission who are preparing to license this Las Vegas match, the money-hungry broadcasters who will tell us – over and over and over – that anything can happen, the respected writers who are desperate not to have their accreditation denied, and sanctioning bodies like the WBC who plan to make a special belt for the occasion, should also be wary of such levels of exposure.
Because the problem is, and it’s easy to forget during the current frivolity, that at some point the opening bell will sound. And suddenly, as Mayweather smirks while sidestepping a McGregor left hand – yes, that left hand that so many believe can behead Floyd – and pings him with a spiteful counter, the ridiculousness of the whole thing will become glaringly apparent. And there, rooted in the centre of it all, preparing itself for the fallout and already screaming for forgiveness, will be the sport of boxing.
If you thought the reaction to Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in 2015 was bad, when a sizeable number of fans screamed for their money back after the grandiose promises of war were broken, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. And please don’t forget that fight, because Mayweather-McGregor will make it look like the Gatti-Ward, Ali-Frazier and Zale-Graziano rivalries all rolled into one.
On that night Mayweather proved he was pretty much untouchable against the next best of his era. McGregor, and let’s be brutally honest, hasn’t even achieved that level of dominance in his own discipline (where his record reads 21-3) so it’s something of a stretch to picture him morphing into a Mayweather-munching machine here. One can only hope Floyd puts Conor out of his misery quickly, and the bout isn’t allowed to drag on and on into potentially dangerous territory as the exhausted underdog chases the impossible.
So how do we, Boxing News, cover the fight? Several readers have already got in touch to plead that we ignore it completely. But that would be like The Economist ignoring the bewildering rise of Donald Trump. BN turning a blind eye to this contest will not, unfortunately, make it go away. It will merely take away one of the few truly sincere commentators on the event. But we’re also aware that for every boxing fan whose gut rumbles with nausea at the mere mention of this fight, there will be another who will be interested just to see what’s going on. So, on our website – which attracts millions of visits every month – expect the event to be covered step-by-step. Yet at no point will we declare it a must-see attraction, nor will we criticise just for the sake of criticising. In short, we will provide, just like always, honest opinion and factual reporting.
We will not plaster the magazine week-in, week-out, with feature after feature that insults your intelligence by telling you this bout is the best thing ever. We will not deliver a five-star preview imploring you not to miss it. We will, as always, cut through the hype, and tell it straight. Through it all, the integrity of the Boxing News name will remain. We only hope, when it’s all over, the sport will be able to say the same.