This weekend, as the media has informed us with boring repetition, two overgrown man-children will fight each other to delight of adoring, brainwashed fools.
Sorry, let me start that again.
This weekend, Floyd Mayweather, a 40 year old boxer with a 49-0 record, will fight a non-boxer in Las Vegas. The non-boxer in question is 29 year old Conor McGregor, someone who has sprung to prominence due to his fantastic ability at being able to knock people out in only a few seconds in something called the UFC, which, in case you weren’t familiar, doesn’t feature boxing.
This fight between the two has been hammered into everyone’s collective conscious, regardless of whether you actually care about boxing or these two at all. Everywhere you look, it’s impossible to avoid the latest puerile development in this sorry saga. Meanwhile, those who delight in such things, have been positively frothing at the mouth with excitement, no doubt filling your Facebook or Twitter feed with news from something that has somehow become even more intolerable than a Guardian opinion column. Yes, amazingly, McGregor/Mayweather has made me wish we still lived in the time when social media was awash with political hot-takes.
Well, good for them. I hope the ‘fight’ (if at this stage you can call it that) lives up to the hype. But somehow I doubt it will.
Personally, I’ll just be glad when it’s all over. This charade represents the absolute worse in sport, and it makes me embarrassed that two already famous multi-millionaires are so desperate for even more fame and money.
As they’ve toured around the States promoting this fight, you haven’t had to look hard to see the dollar symbols that replace where their pupils once were. According to reports, Mayweather is set to make $100m from this, with McGregor pocketing $75m.
With such eye-watering sums of money involved, it’s hard to feel like this fight matters, no matter how much the promoters try to make us think so. There’s no championship involved, it’s answering a question that nobody was asking. It’d be like Usain Bolt and Mo Farah having a race over a distance of 100 metres. They’re both runners, right? Or a race between Marc Marquez and Lewis Hamilton, on motorbikes. They’re both racers, right?
It’s a fight between two people at opposite ends of their career, a fight between two athletes that would never have happened ordinarily. A fight between someone who has been a boxer for twenty plus years, and someone who hasn’t.
What really is the point?
The answer, probably, is there is no point, not least in a traditional sporting sense. All it is, is a cynical and utterly vulgar marketing exercise to further both men’s bank balances and ‘brand’. Or a last ditch attempt for a sport with declining interest in boxing to remain relevant for a while longer.
When you consider this, suddenly all the utterly cringe-worthy media tours make a bit more sense. The late great Muhammad Ali once professed “I’ve wrestled with alligators; I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning and throw thunder in jail. You know I’m bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.” These days we have to make do with McGregor turning up in a pinstripe suit, where the pinstripe is actually lettering that spells “fuck you”. Or Mayweather throwing fake (or real, at this stage I can’t be bothered to check) dollar bills over the stage. They’ve taunted each other with insults that border on racist and homophobic, to just plain embarrassing. When they’re not doing that, they’re posting pictures on their social media from their private jets, or posing with stacks of money and scantily-clad women.
Secretly, I don’t think either really cares who wins. Really, they’ve both won what they wanted already, further fame, adoration and money. The reasons beyond the aforementioned superficial stuff of why both started in their chosen sport have long been forgotten – and that’s the real shame. Out of this, sport is the real loser.
I hope it makes them happy. Then, maybe when this is all over, and when they’ve finished counting their money, they’ll take a moment to wonder whether it was all worth it. I hope fans and the media do too. Is this really how we want sport to be in future?
I sincerely hope the answer is no.