This past week saw the public witness two grown men yelling and insulting each other with the wit of preteens who decided their old and mature enough to use swear words with each other. Scratch that, they were yelling and insulting each other like two frat boys who are completely inebriated, definitely shirtless, and trying to prove to their clic of friends and frat brothers there the Hercules of the party.
Not attempting to sound like a member of the greatest generation, there was a humor in watching old fighters like Muhammad Ali talking trash in his prime, predicting the round he’ll knock people out, and calling himself “The Greatest.” There is a humor in wrestlers talking trash to each other in the ring in front of hundreds of thousands of cheering or jeering fans before climbing a ladder two stories high to leap on another person’s head. The Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather pregame fight session was the equivalent of watching a “Real Housewife of Yaada, Yaada” fight between two characters who you wouldn’t want to know, with all the expletives, bottom of the barrel jokes, and pinches of racial insensitivity (and no, I don’t think Conor McGregor is racist for what he said to Mayweather. The point of these pregame shows are to be insulting and crude and it was much more uncomfortable compared with Ali calling Joe Frazier a gorilla before their third fight).
And that’s what this is: A pregame show. It was a pregame show, much like how “Inside the NBA” with Shaq, Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith is a pregame show for TNT’s basketball games. And every now and then, an entertaining pregame show is fun to watch. Shaq sparring with Chuck, Kenny Smith making jokes of his own and Ernie being the only professional at actually focusing on the game, it can be a good show. But not when the game they are leading to is the Warriors vs the Lakers, which is what the general public is getting here.
People don’t like Floyd Mayweather. And Floyd Mayweather does not care. But don’t insult the man’s abilities. There is a reason he has never lost a fight as a professional boxer. He’s the greatest fighter of this generation, an all time great fighter in the same realms as Sugar Ray Robinson, Ali, and Joe Louis. And arguably the greatest defensive fighter of all time. He calls himself “Pretty Boy Floyd” because he does bruise. Opponents for more than two decades, actual professional boxers with all of Mayweather’s matches on tape, have not been able to do more than slightly inconvenience the man.
And now a man who’s not had a single professional boxing match, is suppose to put Mayweather to the canvass. All because the sports of boxing and UFC mixed martial arts include the feature of knocking someone out and hitting them, that does not make them the same sport. Asking Conor McGregor to fight in a boxing ring is like asking Tom Holland to direct the next Spiderman movie. It is a different game being played. Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, couldn’t get out of the minors in baseball because he wasn’t that good. All because both games include a ball does not mean a thing.
Boxing matches tend to be longer, the ring size is different, and include regulations not in UFC fights (McGregor can’t throw Floyd to the ground, kick him, or put him in a headlock). And had this fight been in the octagon instead of a boxing ring, Floyd would have been crazy in trying to go toe-to-toe with the best at a sport he’s never attempted.
People who know a tiniest bit about boxing are not going to watch Mayweather McGregor expecting a good fight. Yes, it will get high ratings because of star power, but chances are those ratings will dip in the later rounds after they see how out of his league McGregor is.
In his first at bat of his Mets career, Tim Tebow, the best college football player of the 2000s, struck out in three pitches to the reigning Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello. All because you dominate one sport does not mean you can dominate another. Bo Jackson was a once in a century kind of athlete. And people from that sport tend to have an extra motivation of humiliating an outsider in their game.