The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor world tour has been a circus full of verbal barbs, posturing and threats. Some words are scripted, others improvised, as the two men duel both for psychological advantage and to stir up pay-per-view interest. The truth about this contest is still there, intertwined with the stories of the combatants themselves.
Nearly two hours before the guests of honor appeared, a promo film on Floyd Mayweather Jr. ran on the two projection screens flanking Toronto’s Budweiser Stage. This was a hard-luck story of a remarkable young man who had clawed his way out of the darkness.
The abbreviated story told us about how Floyd Mayweather Jr. emerged from Grand Rapids, Michigan to become an undefeated 49-0 superstar attraction.
“I had a father who was a hustler and a mother who was on drugs,” Floyd told The Independent in 2007.
His opponent, Dublin, Ireland’s Conor McGregor has overcome his own obstacles to become the man he is today. Conor swapped a possible lifetime spent working as a plumber for welfare and full-time MMA training in order to grasp a dream that was invisible to others ten years ago when he had his first amateur MMA bout. He’s had an enchanted rise into becoming the popular and charismatic two-division champion in the UFC.
When McGregor finally took to the stage, he started cursing out the Mayweathers, getting the audience into an obscene chant. Then he expanded his aim to include Showtime, the television network broadcasting the event:
“Showtime executives, just know whatever situation you put me in I always come out on top,” McGregor said while gazing at Showtime sports executive Stephen Espinoza.
Throughout his speech, there was a lot of pacing back and forth by McGregor. He projected the energy of a prowling wildcat sizing up his prey.
Throughout this, Floyd Mayweather Jr., seated next to Mayweather promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, simply continued to nonchalantly sip from his coffee cup as he awaited his turn on the mic.
When Floyd Mayweather’s time to speak came, he knew how to make an impact:
“One thing we do know, one thing we do know, one thing we do know, the fucking fans can’t fight for you,” he said, addressing the overwhelming number of McGregor supporters among the 16,000 in attendance.
When Mayweather took an Irish flag from the crowd just in front of the stage, he truly piqued McGregor’s interest. In the matching-game of mutual escalation they were playing, McGregor playfully took the backpack of money that Mayweather had placed on the podium.
“There’s about five grand in here!” McGregor told the audience. “Just know, you do something with that flag you ain’t getting this bag or this money back.”
Mayweather stayed disciplined, never losing his composure. He also made sure that he paid tribute to UFC president Dana White, seated next to Conor McGregor, telling him “You the boss.”
There might have been another subtext to those words.
The pivotal question for analysts does not revolve around how the bout itself will play out. Floyd Mayeather is The Black Swan of boxing. Conor McGregor is an excellent MMA fighter with genuine one-punch knockout power, but he is not fighting Mayeather under any sort of improvised rules.
Perhaps Conor McGregor will come out blazing in the first round like Thomas Hearns went at Marvin Hagler in 1985. Mayweather knows almost every boxing trick imaginable and can nullify McGregor’s offense while awaiting a tipping point where he will mercilessly tee off on McGregor.
Regardless of records or the outcome, there will always be something special about Conor McGregor. He’s made an entire career out of believing in himself and taking chances. He has gone straight after what he wants without any over-thinking or hesitation. He is loved because he is willing to take everyone with him as he continues his epic quest.
Countless number of young men have attempted to emulate Mayweather’s shoulder roll in the gym and a smaller handful may be trying to ape aspects of McGregor’s quixotic style. Still, these two men are wholly unique, and despite their harsh words, they share a mutual respect because they essentially come from the same darkness.
People will tune in on August 26 because the Mayweather-McGregor bout is there to free us, albeit momentarily, from our melancholic or mundane moments.
We can not miss it.
Brian J. D’Souza is the author of the critically acclaimed book Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts. You can read an excerpt right here.