Boxing

Here's What's Really Going On With This Conor McGregor - Floyd Mayweather Farce

Here's What's Really Going On With This Conor McGregor - Floyd Mayweather Farce

Like an incessant 'that moment when' internet meme born of a Vietnamese radio station's Facebook account, it just won't go away.

When the claims first emerged that a Floyd Mayweather - Conor McGregor fight was a possibility, we spoke with renowned boxing journalist Dan Rafael. He denounced talk of the potential contest as "absolute bullshit." But even 'Big Dan' has - albeit begrudgingly - fallen foul to the news cycle, as he was roped into discussing who would win the fight over on ESPN.

Indeed, it now seems impossible to scroll through your various social media feeds without encountering a chopped-together image of Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather accompanied by a headline suggesting the UFC featherweight champion and the former pound-for-pound boxing great will trade leather in the coming months. And yes, I'm aware that our above featured image somewhat perpetuates the issue for people sick to teeth of similar, but hopefully by the end of this article we'll have provided some clarity as to why musings about a hypothetical fight - that nobody in their right mind should want to see - is dominating your newsfeed.

 

It certainly grew new legs on Tuesday, when respected sports journalist and broadcaster Colin Cowherd - formerly of ESPN, now Fox Sports - announced to his considerable following that he has reason to believe Mayweather and McGregor will throw down as early as September:

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News I believe is gonna break here in about two weeks... I have already booked two rooms - September 17th and 18th in Las Vegas. My intel is Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather is going to happen. It changed late last week. I got a call then somebody else sent me something [Sunday] and Saturday. We've booked rooms in Vegas. [It's happening] this September.

Mayweather did have a very bad last pay per view gate: 550,000 people, he tries to get two-to-three million. So I think this is the most profitable fight for CBS and Mayweather. CBS has been working with Mayweather for years. That's why his fights are on Showtime, because CBS owns Showtime. So Les Moonves [President and CEO of CBS] and the CBS peeps have decided, 'let's talk to the Fox - UFC peeps' and you've got Fox and CBS, you've got UFC, you've got boxing, you've got Floyd, you've got Conor. It's gonna make a lot of money for people.

For such a reputable and well-connected journalist to go rogue to the tiresome 'not going to happen but here's what people are saying' narrative raised many eyebrows; most boxing and MMA fans have taken the mundanely routine updates from both camps with a cholesterol-raising quantity of salt, but Cowherd is rarely afraid to call bullshit on, well, bullshit - so does his understanding that a fight between the pair will actually happen change things?

Not really.

We now understand that as far back as December, Conor McGregor's team met with Al Haymon - Floyd Mayweather's advisor - in Las Vegas. The details provided to us about that get-together were as follows:

  • Al Haymon arranged the meeting.
  • It took place just 2-3 days after McGregor sparked out José Aldo to become UFC featherweight champion: December 14th or 15th.
  • The teams reached an agreement whereby they could raise the profile of their own fighter through the other party; 'maximum publicity for minimum effort'.
  • Floyd Mayweather did not attend the meeting, and has never met Conor McGregor.
  • Dana White was not involved, and is still not involved in any discussions between both camps.

Haymon is a boxing promoter/manager who handles the pugilistic careers of Floyd Mayweather and a plethora of the world's best boxers, along with Premier Boxing Champions - a fight series which seeks to bring renewed mainstream exposure to the sport of boxing on all of America's leading tv networks.

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We also understand that a fight between McGregor and Mayweather was not discussed at this sit-down in December, rather that the meeting was instigated by Haymon and agreed to by McGregor's team with one simple goal in mind: publicity.

You might recall that less than a fortnight later, a farcical 'racism row' broke out between the pair, with Mayweather telling FightHype:

I don't really know the McGregor guy; never seen him fight. I heard his name actually from one of the runners that works for our company; a little kid named Ken Hopkins, he's a runner and takes care of a lot of the daily business. Whatever we need, he takes care of. He's a cool little kid, I like him, and he does MMA. He told me about the guy McGregor. They say he talk a lot of trash and people praise him for it, but when I did it, they say I'm cocky and arrogant. So biased! Like I said before, all I'm saying is this, I ain't racist at all, but I'm telling you racism still exists.

It's probably worth pointing out that, not 30 seconds prior to his shoehorning of McGregor's name into a frankly absurd racial discussion, Mayweather said:

Me and Al Haymon working together, communicating, that's the reason why the money is like it is in the sport of boxing, because of me and Haymon working together.

We've also been led to understand that Haymon - at least back in December - was certainly not averse to putting McGregor on a Premier Boxing Champions card, quote, "against some bum," as a Notorious presence alone would cause tv ratings for said event to skyrocket. However, this has thus far been deemed contractually unviable by Haymon due to the Irishman's UFC deal, and may not have even been discussed with McGregor and co. during their December meeting.

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And while McGregor's Ed Sheeran-like insinuations that 'Floyd needs him, he doesn't need Floyd' are essentially accurate - what with a semi-retired Mayweather carrying a mere semi-relevance in news circles - the benefits of an all-time great boxer calling out the Irishman for a megabucks bout hardly need teasing out within the context of McGregor's own contractual situation and recent 'power struggle' with the UFC.

His current contract, however, is but one of a number of mundane reasons why a fight with Mayweather can't and won't happen.

Kevin Iole, a boxing and MMA journalist with Mayweather connections, wrote last night:

The idea of a potential bout – a boxing match – between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is sheer lunacy. It’s almost certainly not going to happen and yet Mayweather is leading many around like sheep.

It’s been one of the most prominent topics in the fight game since a tabloid “broke” the news a few weeks ago that a bout between the superstars was done.

Nothing, of course, is further from the truth, but that hasn’t stopped people from talking about it and acting like it's going to happen.

 Essentially, what fans who believe this idiocy should consider is if they’d want to see a boxing match between a guy who won an Olympic bronze medal and then went 49-0 as a pro going up against a 0-0 boxer.

If you thought the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight was bad – and it was horrid – Mayweather-McGregor would be far worse.

And the fact that McGregor's sole boxing experience arrived as a novice amateur in Crumlin Boxing Club should not be overstated as a potential stumbling block for any potential Mayweather clash.

Former FBI agent Bob Bennett is the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission (and also a boxing judge). Any proposal for a Mayweather-McGregor boxing match in Las Vegas would need to go through him, as it is he who evaluates fighters' respective abilities before granting permission for a bout between them to be staged in the state of Nevada.

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He told Iole that he couldn't comment on hypotheticals, but that his number one priority is the safety of both fighters. In truth, it's difficult to see how a boxing match between Mayweather and McGregor could be deemed 'safe'. Furthermore, back in September when the Mayweather-IV drip controversy shook boxing, Bennett said of USADA and Mayweather:

If they think they can do what they want, where and whenever they want in the state of Nevada, they are grossly mistaken.

One would suggest Bennett, with whom the buck stops, wouldn't be overly fond of the circus and potential dangers a boxing-MMA crossover bout would bring to his state.

And yes - it really would have to be Vegas for this absurd fight to make financial sense for either party.

Why, then, does Colin Cowherd think the fight will happen, when it patently will not? Well, it's far from inconceivable that he has simply been misinformed by a party, or parties, for whom the continued publicity of said fight is of interest. Both Premier Boxing Champions and the UFC, for example, have tv deals with Cowherd's employer, Fox.

All we're saying is that Cowherd should cancel his Vegas hotel reservations for September unless he's equally keen to see a once-again news-relevant Floyd Mayweather box 'young, hungry, undeafeated champion' Danny Garcia in his 50th professional contest.

And as for the rest of us - well, we'll presumably be forced to scroll past more of the same monotonous garbage on our social media feeds until Dana White schedules McGregor's UFC return (likely August), and peace for our timelines once more.

 

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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