Mayweather-McGregor: Shaking the Money Tree
By Niko Tricarico: I have never been a fan of Floyd Mayweather’s, and my dislike for his villainous, vainglorious persona has, for years, fueled my desire to see him knocked out. As Muhammad Ali said early on in his career, “100% will be comin’ to see me, but 99% will be comin’ to see me get beat.” So, I am the sucker that the Mayweather character provoked; I was who he got rich off of. But for all of my ire and animus, despite how I felt about him as a person, his competency inside the ring was unparalleled. He just so happens to be the greatest boxer of my generation, and the greatest defensive fighter of all time.
One of the main reasons I disliked him so much was that I felt he was bad for boxing. Giants of the sport can ingratiate boxing back into the mainstream. Mayweather managed to do that, but only for himself. Casual fans were often lured into buying his PPVs with the promise of a blood bath. But Mayweather’s fights never delivered on his rhetoric. Instead, he typically cruised to easy decision wins with technical, but low-action trouncings of whomever he found himself facing. To me, these fights were lost opportunities; lost opportunities to sell the sport, and not himself. “This is the best boxing has to offer,” a friend once mumbled after Mayweather pot-shotted his way to an easy victory over Carlos Baldomir. That friend never watched any of the Marquez/Vasquez fights, never saw Cotto/Margarito, Martinez/Williams, Alvarez/Kirkland, or any other of the countless exhilarating bouts that occur each and every year.
I don’t begrudge Mayweather his safety-first style or anything he did inside the ring for that matter. I was in awe of his skill. But in those moments when I sat and marveled at his defensive wizardry, his speed and athleticism, his accuracy, his composure, others around me would yawn and use Mayweather as a synecdoche for boxing’s inherent maladies. “This sucks,” was, in short, their overarching refutation against ever watching another fight.
But it seems as though he has an interesting opportunity in facing Connor McGregor. For the first time in my life, I will be emphatically rooting for Mayweather, not because I like who he is or because I have come to appreciate his ability to sell a fight. I will be rooting for him because in this instance, for this one fight, he will literally be representing the entire sport of boxing. He will be showing how much more honed a boxer’s skill is than the boxing skill of an MMA fighter. He will be selling the sport, not himself.
When I was younger, a common question to ask was how much money it would take to get in the ring with Mike Tyson. Floyd Mayweather’s no Tyson, but that is essentially what Connor McGregor is doing. He will be making millions and millions of dollars to essentially fight an unwinnable fight. Let’s shed the pretense. The fight itself is a farce. And my gut tells me we all share some of the blame, for Mayweather has again successfully arrogated the pre-fight spotlight away from more substantive fights.
But it’s on! So Floyd, do all us boxing purists a solid: shake off this riff-raff, and smile brightly when you win, because for one of the first times in your career, I’ll be smiling too.