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Don't Be Fooled: Mayweather-McGregor Is Still A Lot Further Away Than You'd Think

Don't Be Fooled: Mayweather-McGregor Is Still A Lot Further Away Than You'd Think

They're not so different, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

Transcendent dominance of their respective crafts and 'money' shticks aside, both fighters revel in the big fight preamble, viewing it as an opportunity to inflict psychological damage upon respective adversaries.

But while they perceive it similarly, they engage in psychological warfare in wholly different manners. For McGregor, it's about intimidation; snarling wide-eyed into the face of an opponent, grabbing belts and flinging cans of energy drinks. For Mayweather, it has always been a game of frustration; remain evasive - a precursor for what's to follow in the ring - and, as the bona fide A-side, pull rank with each infinitesimally minute component of a fight's negotiation, often until mere hours before the first bell sounds.

And so, contrary to the narrative pedalled since early 2016, the great challenge in getting this carnival over the line is not Conor McGregor reaching a compromise with his employers as he did overnight. Numerous speedbumps lie in wait.

"The first, and most important part of this historic contract has now officially been signed off on," McGregor said in his statement to TheMacLife.com, having ironed out and signed a contract with Zuffa LLC, the UFC and his management team. The idea that McGregor and the UFC coming to terms is the 'most important' factor in this cross-sport negotiation is of course nonsense, as Dana White politely alluded to in his accompanying statement:

The McGregor side is done, I'm starting to work on the Mayweather side now.

I'm not saying the fight will happen but I've got one side done and now it's time to work on the other.

'The other', however, will consist of far more than mere financial compromise and a signature. Mayweather's 'side' comes with extra chips, and will consist of about 90% of the negotiative process.

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Have you ever stopped to wonder why Floyd Mayweather, despite his disturbing history of domestic violence and his fights consistently making for objectively laborious viewing for the casual sports fan, is the highest-paid athlete of all time? It's not merely a result of his being the most talented boxer of his generation.

Mayweather and his team are the most adept negotiators the world of sport has ever known. With the ball now firmly on Al Haymon and Mayweather's side of the court, McGregor and Dana White will find themselves rushing towards the net in the coming weeks and months - right up until the obligatory GloveGate that throws the event into doubt come fight night, just as the great glove debate did Mayweather-Pacquiao and Mayweather-Maidana I before it.

This is Mayweather's realm; death by a thousand contractual gripes. Constant alterations. Nonsensical rejections, designed only to infuriate and emasculate. In a sense, he's flipping the books on his prospective opponent, whose recent role in the UFC has been a microcosm of the Mayweather business model. Floyd Mayweather is McGregor's 'red panty night' - a ticket to a payday unattainable within the confines of the UFC, and financial security for the rest of the Dubliner's days. And, like 'The Notorious' in his own realm, Mayweather is not averse to making his B-sides dance for Money.

However, even more tantalising than toying with McGregor - with whom Mayweather shares no genuine animosity - is the prospect of humbling his former apprentice in Dana White, whose rapid ascent to UFC president began with an introduction to the Vegas fight scene as part of Mayweather's own team. "I can remember Dana White used to hang around me and Jeff Mayweather and carry my bags," the 49-0 boxer told TMZ back in January - this after White had made an offer which resulted in Mayweather labelling him "a fucking comedian."

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Mayweather incessantly belittles White via backhanded compliments in the media, and has done so even before a fight versus McGregor was first half-jokingly mooted in late 2015. It's no secret that White and his recently-delayered UFC have a lot of eggs in the Mayweather-McGregor basket; Luke Rockhold, Nate Diaz and others have recently testified to that. It certainly won't have escaped Mayweather either, who'll be feverishly anticipating his upcoming exhibition in scent-marking as he engages in negotiation with White, all the while aware that, as much as he enjoys a handy few quid and has been equally complicit in fanning the flames for 18 months, he doesn't need to fight McGregor whatsoever.

Minor details such as promotional tours, walkout orders and ring size will become points of arduous contention. Then will come broadcast rights - Mayweather's chief source of income since becoming the biggest draw in boxing - and a major stumbling block in that Showtime will likely offer Mayweather a monstrous one-off sum, but the UFC has a seven-year, $450m-per-annum deal with Fox which doesn't expire until 2018.

In any case, in order to get the fight over the line, White will be forced to make concessions to which he's not accustomed in his autocratic role within the UFC. He's dealing with a self-employed contractor as opposed to an employee, and this contractor won't care for his concerns. To use an anecdote which half-pertains to the UFC and this upcoming rigmarole with Mayweather, cast your mind back to 2009, when Mayweather signed a shoe deal with current UFC sponsors Reebok.

The arrangement was not renewed for 2010 on account of the fact that, a mere three weeks after signing the deal, Mayweather strolled into a Nike store, spent thousands of dollars, and shared photos of his new gear on social media. Reebok were outraged; one of the basic concepts of their seven-figure deal was that Mayweather should not be buying Nike products and parading them to the public. Ever the power-player, Mayweather duly walked away from the deal and gave Reebok its money back, according to the sportswear company itself.

In essence, he can't and won't be boxed in, and the onus will be on White - a proud man in his own right - to meet demands, not make them.

Still, in the past 18 months, chicanery, arse-chancery and incessantly shouting names with no real end-game in mind has - on either side of this island, at least - seen the unthinkable come to fruition before long. Initially too off-the-wall to be taken seriously, Mayweather-McGregor is now an impending reality. But as far as the art of this deal is concerned, Mayweather has a blank canvas, and he likes to make a mess.

One signature does not a fight make. It doesn't even get you to the halfway mark.

SEE ALSO: Conor McGregor Issues Statement On Signing Of Contract To Fight Floyd Mayweather

 

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

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