There is no shortage of folks out there who will tell you that the pre fight antics, the bluster and the profane pomp and circumstance, will be the most entertaining part of the event that is the Aug. 26 exercise in revenue generation that is the Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor 154 pound fight, in Las Vegas, and on pay per view.
And if, after two press conferences, one in LA and then Tuesday’s hypefest in Toronto, you decided to hop off the bandwagon of interest, you would have been well rewarded, arguably. You got your money’s worth, and you can, if you choose, walk away from the table not leaving any chips behind.
I bet you won’t, though…
OK, so maybe the Floyd Mayweather schtick isn’t your thing after seeing it for so long. No harm or foul in that; over familairity breeds contempt or indifference in basically all arenas. But this Conor McGregor, he was born to do this, this being selling hopes and dreams and possibilities of wondrous outcomes. The Dubliner could probably make more moolah as a preacher, as his ability to command your attention as he holds a microphone and shout out threats and insults and promises of knockouts forthcoming is that stellar, but thankfully, he isn’t in the prosperity preacher business, promising salvation and no more paycheck to paycheck living, maybe not in that order.
No, he is in a (slightly?) more reputable vocation, that being fighter who has to sell his chances at upending the greatest boxer of this and arguaby other eras as well, Floyd Mayweather. He will have to massage the truth, and twist logic into a pretzel to do it, but he will succeed.
McGregor can make you suspend your inclination toward skepticism, to verify and validate, and forget that he is 0-0 in that squared circle, and has lost three times as an MMAer in 24 outings. With the mic in hand on a Toronto stage, you want to believe, as you find yourself beguiled by his brash buoyancy.
And then, if you know what you see in a boxing ring, and understand that Floyd makes A fighters look C grade, you kick yourself, and ask yourself this: what will he make a C fighter look like at T-Mobile on Aug. 26?
You know the answer, or think you know…but then doubt creeps in, because the Irishman is a skilled salesman.
Yes, yes, that is a better description of his vocation these days, he’s in sales, because he’s there to ensnare casuals who have never bought a boxing PPV, and two million boxing fans who said they’d never buy another Floyd Mayweather PPV after his promised super fight against Manny Pacquiao fizzled like the Fyre Festival. Folks who ditched their cynical/skeptical POV and thought that Pacman could at least test “Money” came away feeling fleeced, many of them. Will they be lure-able? Will they suspend their disbelief, and quell their still dashed spirits, their lingering self loathing at being a sub savvy consumer? Will these abused patrons let McGregor, so charming, so seemingly certain that he’d leave the T-Mobile having done as promised, dropped and stopped the 49-0 Mayweather, convince them to pony up $99.—again!—because of of just might happen?
The smart money, that being the folks who are producing and promoting the event, Showtime, say that they will. All of them. Those who haven’t tuned in and those who’d been spurned in their previous liasion.
Certainly, McGregor’s effort on a Toronto stage today snagged another 100,000 or so souls who can now place themself in the “will buy on fight night” category, after soaking in the WWE on the good juice type antics of Conor and Floyd in Canada.
Yes, Floyd is the A side talent, but the UFCer is the A side entertainer, the one who has an extra special knack for commanding and demanding attention from an audience, for what he’s about to say.
The two men jawed for two minutes, face to face, when the presser finally got underway. Thery weren’t mic-d up, and the moment cried out for lip readers.
Tellingly, smiles affixed to the faces of the various production and promotional persons who clogged the stage; this isn’t looking or feeling or being billed as a real-deal bad-blood tour. There is a gleam in the eye of all involved, that gleam being colored green.
McGregor sports a 21-3 mark, in MMA, and he was the man that a majority of those gathered were there to see. They weren’t interested in hearing from Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza, who battled boo birds as he teed it up for Floyd. They enjoyed the brevity of ESPN front and center man Dana White, and then the Boston bred fightsport builder brought out the Dubliner.
He might not be the fighter he’s built up to be, in the all time great vein, but he damn well knows what buttons to push. “On the count of the three, I want everyone in this arena to scream, “Fuck the Mayweathers,” he commanded. “When I count da tree,” he said, do it again. Floyd smiled and his peeps grinned, enjoying the popping buy rate as McGregor termed Espinoza an “effin weasel” and Floyd an “effin bitch.”
He said Team Floyd and Showtime cut off his mic in LA the day before and promised that his mic would stay live on this occasion. He has an irrepressibility, the energy of a plus sized leprechaun, and Mac-maniacs screamed approval as he shouted, “dance for me boy,” again, even though folks had shouted out that was not appropriate the day before.
He referenced the “50 stripper bitches” on Floyd’s payroll, and his followers hooted. Again, this was like WWE, but without the content being adjusted for the fact that three thousand 11 year olds are in every arena crowd. This is adult fare, which makes sense, being that boxing is a life and death sport.
The salesman, er sportman, continued.
He reminded and told the uninitiated that he’d beaten down such a threat before, in Jose Aldo. He then went at the “boxing experts,” who he deemed “crazy” for thinking Floyd would win. “I bounce heads off the canvas and dribble that shit,” he said. “He’s a runner, he’s boxing’s biggest bitch,” he screamed, as White nearly fell off his chair, grinning his eyes into slits. McGregor prowled the stage, owning it, and you had to remind yourself, if you were into the sales pitch, that on fight night, Mayweather will have him looking bewildered much of the time.
McGregor lauded his own sartorial splendor and mocked Floyd’s choice of attire. “Dress yer fucking age,” he spat at Floyd. He then sat down in timely fashion, leaving them wanting more, as most of the best showmen do.
Could Mayweather top the Dubliner? “He’s the best to ever do it,” Floyd’s right hand man Leonard Ellerbe said, in his intro. And then the 40 year old, billed as the “highest paid athlete ever,” took the mic. He was greeted with some boos and more so silence. They were waiting, I guess, to see if they would cheer or boo him, depending on his schtick.
Mayweather has taken to prowling, then striding to the mic, then striding away. It’s a wrasslin move, and he’s studied up. He jutted his jaw and lower lip, getting into persona, that of the “Money” man who boasts excessively about his riches but also reminds all that he worked ultra hard to get that loot. “One thing we do know,” he said to CM, “the fucking fans can’t fight for you.”
“Shut yer fooking mouth,” his foil, mic on, answered.
Floyd dropped an emeffer, reminding us that this is like WWE for adults, no kids allowed.
“You owe money,” McGregor jabbed at him, referencing Floyd’s IRS bill. The Michiganer brought out a bag, and challenged Conor to bet his whole purse. (One might wonder, how much of this banter is pre-discussed?) OK, the Irishman said, in a silly continuation of an impossible occurence. Again and again, Floyd called the UFCer a “bitch,”and he dropped more eff bombs as he called McGregor a “quitter.”
This is the most profane Mayweather the public has seen, and you have to give props, maybe, to the decision to make this an amped up occasion. The language, the heated nature of it, is reflecting the alleged stakes and mood of the principals.
Floyd took a mobile mic and boasted about his brillaince. “Yeah, I’m running…to the emeffin bank,” he said, and McGregor gave him a point for a good zinger.
“I’m 40 but I look 20,” …”and you act ten,” said McGregor, winning the counterpunch contest.
Again, Floyd reminded McGregor that he’d tapped out in a fight, and he’d never do the same. They told each other to shut up. Then Floyd grabbed an Irish flag and we cringed. No, he didn’t pull a Hopkins and toss it to the floor. He had it around his shoulders, while McGregor snagged that bag. He looked inside and derided the contents. “That’s it? There’s about five grand in here!” McGregor warned him not to mess with the flag and Vince McMahon surely, if he watched, nodded in appreciation at the showmanship.
They faced off, yakked, possibly chatted about the millions they’d be splitting, or the latest news on Donald Junior or what moves the Cavs made in the offseason or who knows what, and we were reminded when and where they’d fight, and how to purchase a viewing.
Oh, and by the way, the flag made it’s way to Conor and an international crisis was averted. Maybe they save that for Brooklyn on Thursday?