I’VE just finished my research for Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor. I’m not going to be ringside, I’ll be at the World Amateur Championships in Hamburg as it happens, but, as well as commentate for Sky, I also compile all the notes and stats for the team for all fight nights. I really enjoy it; there’s not a card or a fight that I don’t find interesting and sitting with my laptop checking out fighters’ histories and watching old fights on YouTube is my idea of a good time, which is lucky because I do a lot of it.
This one’s been a bit different for obvious reasons, and as a result it got me thinking about things in a way that I wouldn’t normally.
In boxing we all expect Mayweather to win and to win easily. In our eyes the outcome is not in doubt. If you subscribe to that school of thought, and I do, then it all seems very straightforward, dull even. But what is a win for Floyd in the context of this fight? What would really quantify a victory? Is it merely the W? I mean it normally is; a win is a win is a win isn’t it? Well I’d argue in this case that it is not. Everything is stacked in Mayweather’s favour so anything less than a totally dominant performance will not cut it. The five-weight world champion must school his opponent, he must make McGregor look like a zero-fight novice, he must make him miss, pick him off at will, and then close the show at a moment of his choosing. If he does that, then he can genuinely claim the win; that, for me, will quantify a victory.
But what if that isn’t what happens? What if boxing’s chosen one is caused problems by his MMA counterpart? What if he gets hit and hurt, even once, just fleetingly. Can Mayweather then claim the win?
The point I’m trying to make is that the winner here will not necessarily be the man who has his hand raised at the end of the fight.
If Conor McGregor manages to land any meaningful punches and is able to take his opponent out of his comfort zone, something nobody has managed to do for a very long time (Marcos Maidana got a lot of credit for almost managing it) then in the court of public opinion surely he will have done enough to get the verdict, no matter how it all actually ends.
There will be judges at ringside as usual of course, all scoring the bout using the 10 Point Must and whose scoring won’t be needed in the event of a stoppage, business as usual. But maybe on this occasion it would be better if a different approach were to be taken and the judges were instructed to examine the fight and the circumstances surrounding it as a whole, to take into account the scale of the task facing each combatant and adjust the parameters of victory for each accordingly.
It would be radical to say the least but there’s not much about Mayweather vs McGregor that isn’t.
I’m aware of course that some people are dismissing it as a waste of time because they feel that the outcome is inevitable and the contest itself therefore redundant. If you’re one of those people, and want no part of it, then that’s your decision, but come next week you won’t be able to escape it, it’ll be everywhere so try embracing it using the more oblique angle outlined here. Have a look at it, analyse it, and then decide what, in your mind, each combatant has to do for you to declare them the winner.
That’s what I’ve done and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.