Photo by Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports
The fight-news media wire has lit up ever since UFC president Dana White said in an appearance on The Conan O'Brien Show that a super-fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not only possible, but also likely to happen. Though there has been plenty of exchange between two stars about fighting one another, White had remained the one party adamant that the fight would never happen. For him to finally concede to the possibility could indicate a significant step forward for the bout to come off.
"I do think it's going to happen," White said to O´Brien. "I think it's going to be a tough deal, because, obviously, there are a lot of egos involved in this deal and a lot of people, so that always makes it tougher. On the flip side, there's so much money involved, I just don't see how it doesn't happen."
The news comes at the heels of a couple of related announcements from the Mayweather camp. The first happened early last week when Mayweather delivered a message to interviewers for McGregor to "stop blowing smoke up everybody's ass and sign the paper," which perhaps indicates that some sort of contractual agreement had already been drafted for the bout. Four days later, Mayweather held a small press conference during his UK tour to tell fans that he was "coming out of retirement" just to fight McGregor, and that a potential date had been set for June. Further speculation ballooned when news outlets started reporting that the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas had been booked for June 10th, which would fit the Mayweather profile perfectly. Though White has stated the date as a mere coincidence, his recent attitude to green-light the venture makes such speculation not too far-fetched.
White went onto say in the interview that the potential contest would be held under boxing rules, specifically mentioning the disarmament of kicks, elbows and ground grappling from McGregor's arsenal. Despite the restrictions, however, White still gave his charge a good chance.
"A lot of things make this fight intriguing. Conor McGregor is huge. He's in the prime of his career. Floyd is 40. Floyd has always had problems with southpaws; Conor is a southpaw, and Conor hits hard. When he hits people, they go. Floyd is definitely not knocking him out. That's for sure," White said. "I'm not saying Conor would win this boxing match, but it sure makes it interesting."
While certain influential voices in the boxing community agree with White's prediction of the fight happening, they don't necessarily agree with his assessment of how the fight would play out. This conversation between Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, for instance, lays out all the moving parts of the matchup, and reminds the public that while McGregor has done fantastically in MMA, this will be his first bout as a professional boxer. Just having the mere stamina and breathing pattern to go 12-rounds in a boxing match takes years of conditioning. To then challenge the absolute best of the sport while attempting to do so, and the skill differential will likely be too wide to cover.
This is not to say that McGregor is not a spectacular athlete. He is. It is more to say that athletic prowess does not necessarily trump experience, especially when a similar degree of prowess is sitting across the ring. When looking at the realities of McGregor's chances in a boxing match, it becomes more apparent that we're being sold more of an event than a fight, and like many analysts have already said, "the greatest part of this event will be everything besides the match itself."
When I first heard the potentials of this fight, I thought, like many others, that it was impossible. But here we see a softening of stances across all parties. First the fighters hardly entertain the idea; now they're demanding it. Promoters called it a fantasy; now they've given their blessing. Expect to hear some different tunes from sanctioning bodies and licensing commissions next, because it appears that there is always some amount of money that can change the hearts of anyone.
Just don't expect a drastic change to the fighting ability of either party inside the ring. That, it seems, is still one thing that money can't buy.