Taking a page from the old Axl Rose rulebook, the principals for the Aug. 26 circus-scrap, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, made ‘em wait at Barclays Center, the third stop on their hype tour, which hit LA, then Toronto, and touched down in NY before jetting to London.
Grumbling ceased when the main men hit the stage but overall, the set from both men didn't slay, and the crowd let them know it, with a reduced decibel level compared to the two earlier events.
McGregor set the tone Monday with profane witticisms and slaps at th 49-0 hitter, and he was even nastier in Candada, referring to Floyd as a “bitch” repeatedly. He ticked all the boxes, labeling him unable to read, and mocked his tax troubles. Floyd rolled with the punches and returned fire both times, and was an X-rated version of his “Money” persona, dropping eff bombs like singles flowing at his “Girl Collection” strip joint. How would they top it in NYC? Would Floyd wipe his butt with an Irish flag? Would McGregor step over the line and up the racial angle component? in fact, no; the energy lagged some from both, arguably, as Floyd repeated his best bits and didn't opt for the upgrade in antics with the flag.
Brian Custer, Paul Malignaggi and Brendan Schaub, repping the MMA world, sat and shot the bull while the waiting game played out. “Conor McGregor is out of his mind and it’s a fantastic thing,” said actress/activist Rosie Perez, who sat with the trio as the main eventers made the masses wait.
At 8:30 PM ET, Jimmy Lennon came out and a promo video showed. We saw attestations and video of the Dubliner’s abilities and ability to wreak violent mayhem on brain stems. He bragged and bashed heads. McGregor came out and the building vibrated with appreciative vocalizations. The Irish were in the house. He strutted from the back, like a proud pimp or WWE sports entertainer. CM chewed gum, an “I don’t give a fuck” sneer affixed, as he strutted and preened.
Then, a Mayweather promo played. Boos started percolating as Lennon introed Floyd. Floyd talked about his love of money, and how brilliant he is. The braggy black hat was in the house. Love him, or preferably, hate him, because haters spend more, he would be happy as long as you paid to watch the event. There will be no money back guarantee, of course, so expectations of what you want to happen or think will happen should be cemented explicitly in your brain, as a consumer.
Mayweather walked to the stage and the pro McGregor crowd bathed him in boos. He was accompanied by his “Money Team” rap anthem, and the Irishman looked on in feigned disgust, hiding his glee at the coming jackpot to his bank account. To remind you, this is WWE style, with emotions feigned and the bulk of watchers—wait, I think the bulk?—willingly suspending their disbelief and playing along with the charade. Floyd had an Irish flag on his head and he tossed it away, drawing hoots from the punters. Each man strutted the stage, soaking up the vibes, reading the room, drawing strength from the adoration and hatred being aimed at them.
An “ole” chant sprouted, and then died as eyes bore in on the men staring down for a prolonged “look inside the soul” session. This site, this image grabbed, spoke ten thousand words, because each person watching could caption it as they saw fit.
UFC boss Dana White, years at the helm and fine living having made him morph out of the lean and hungry look into that of a well compensated mogul, grinned as he watched his kid slay to a lesser degree than usual.
Brian Custer of Showtime took the mic and handed off to the major players. “It’s a fight that the fans wanted and we’re gonna bring it to ya,” he stated. “New York City, the world is watching you,” he noted.
Barclays boss Brett Yormark hit the mic and understood that people had been waiting for four or more hours. He welcomed Floyd and Conor and Dana White, as well as Stephen Espinoza. He asked people to buy the event and “have a great night.” Smart man, he knew brevity was called for.
Stephen Espinoza gamely battled boos as he hyped up Showtime fare. Custer said that the peeps were like an Apollo crowd, and he wasn’t lying. This was the first acknowledgement that the mood wasn't festive after the excessive waiting game sapped adrenaline.
Dana White came to the mic and would he get hooted at? Not so much; these were more so McGregor fans, and White’s schtick is appreciated because fans feel he’s one of them. He also smartly just went right to a McGregor intro.
Then CM got the mic, and he offered a mini rap, which drew silence. He offered a shoutout to “Notorious BIG” and then insulted 50 cent as a “bitch.”
“Two fake money bitches,” he called Floyd and 50. “He’s bankrupt and you’re about to be,” he cracked. Floyd howled. This truly is a co-promotion.
He then handed Floyd Jay’s new album and asked Floyd to learn to build a real empire. Then send it on to 50, for learning purposes. “Let’s address the race,” he said. Is he against blacks, as press has insinuated and stated? “That’s absolutely fooking ridiculous. Do they not know I’m half black…half black from the belly button down,” he cracked.
Struuted, preened, pondered, soaked up cheers and boos. “Fuck you,” he howled at people booing. “Stop me walking about this place like I own it,” he said, shades of Jim Morrison and Andy Kaufman in his schtick.
“New York, New York, what a fuckin city,” he said.
He invited Floyd to suck his penis and handed off to Floyd. The fighting A side is the entertainment B side, bigly, however. Mayweather, the 40 year old Michigan native, let the tension build. He put a chain around Gervonta Davis’ neck and then let Leonard Ellerbe intro him. “The best ever,” said Ellerbe, accompanied by a chorus of boos from the seats cheap and expensive.
Mayweather then looked to get the better of the Dubliner. He did his hard work chant, the old standby. “I don’t just smell victory…know what else I smell..I smell a bitch,” was his opening line. He asked the crowd to point to the “bitch” and “quitter” and then brought out his bag, drawing from the Ted Dibiase method, and probably Gorgeous George and a dozen others before that.
He threw bills in the air and McGregor looked bored. “They’re all fucking ones,” the UFCer sneered.
All work is what, he chanted, and then paced and continued. “You did a fuckable…you did a fuckin remarkable job,” he said to Dana White. McGregor is a clown and a pussy, he said. Profanity without inventiveness attached can get boring and he veered into that territory, it seemed.
Then security came out, for both sides, and a minor scrum occured. Floyd shadow boxed as the jumbo security guards earned their keep with jostling and glaring. McGregor mocked juiced up bouncers and they went back and forth, tit for tat. Floyd said he threw one dllar bills at McGregor because he’s a “hoe,” and yes, this installment wasn’t draping itself in class or glory or innovation.
“Y’all want more,” Floyd called and received a tepid response.
“Dana White is pimpin this bitch,” Mayweather said, as the decibel level dropped further.
They then faced off, stared into each others’ eyes and barked back and forth.
Tix are on sale July 24, Lennon told watchers, “the best of boxing versus the best in MMA,” he said. White obligatorily pulled McGregor away and they headed off to their dressing rooms, to pack up and head to London, to repeat the performance, with a tweaked set list.
Not sure how it played out in the joint. Off the stream, this installment didn’t have the verve of the Toront effort. And for those wondering why I and so many are doing this sort of review, it’s because many of us expect the lead up to be the most entertaining element of the promotion.
Paul Malignaggi admitted that they were running out of ideas, but he said that Floyd did well with some of his bits. “They ran out of material,” Schaub stated. I concur. This was like round seven of a decent prizefight, before the pugilists' second wind kicked in. Maybe round eight will rebound.