49 – 0 vs. 0 – 0; the biggest mismatch in boxing history that will be the richest bout ever. When Floyd Mayweather, Jr. steps into the ring against Conor McGregor on 26th August 2017, the boxer whom many rate as the best pound-for-pound pugilist in the sport’s history, will face the biggest name in the MMA. Will the octagon overcome the ring or is eight sides bad, four sides good?
Mayweather’s tale is well-known while McGregor’s is becoming that way. The Irishman has risen from a weekly welfare cheque to being one of the world’s top twenty-five best-paid athletes, according to Forbes magazine. Win this bout and the self-styled @TheNotoriousMMA will find himself catapulted into the top ten.
The Dubliner is a promoter’s dream. He didn’t so much kiss the blarney stone as devour it whole. While not as prosaic as Muhammed Ali, Conor McGregor is certainly as much of a showman. He knows his value as a sporting commodity rises with the hype and plays up to that admirably.
It’s been a whirlwind four years since McGregor climbed into octagon for his debut bout in Stockholm. That ended in with a knockout and $60,000 knockout bonus, less than a fortnight after picking up his last €165 from the state.
Speaking to Conan O’Brien in 2016, he recalled how he walked away from his plumbing job to follow his dreams,
“I remember one lunch break, I was in the car park, rain pissing down and there was some music going... and I just went with it. I was like, ‘I’m out of here’. I’m gonna drive home and pursue this dream of becoming a world champion mixed martial artist.
“That’s what I did, I got home, my mother and father said, ‘Why aren’t you at work?’
“I said, ‘I’m never going to work as a plumber another day in my life’ and then, of course, all hell broke loose.”
Needless to say, his dedication to reaching the pinnacle of his sport convinced his parents that he wasn’t just wasting his life. Now they look back on his meteoric rise with pride; from the drudgery of modern day living to becoming the first man to hold concurrent UFC two-division titleholder – does it get any better than this?
Knockout Floyd Mayweather, Jr and the answer to that question is most definitely and emphatically, yes.
Artistry in Every Way Shape and Form
McGregor provokes strong opinions in sports fans. He’s loved and held in contempt in equal measure with this bout marking him as an adventurer or charlatan depending upon whom you talk to.
No-one can deny his record in UFC but plenty follow Oscar De La Hoya’s belief that this fight is about money and nothing more. The former 10-time world champion made no attempt to hide his contempt for this bout. “This is all about just creating the hype around this event”, before declaring, “[and] that potentially can damage the sport of boxing once again like Mayweather-Pacquiao did."
In doing so, he added to the hype. Mayweather is no slouch when it comes to self-promotion but he trails in McGregor’s slipstream. Photos of the boxer with piles of cash are nothing compared to the vigour and verve of the Irishman’s offerings.
Twitter, Instagram; McGregor exploits them all as Betway Insider’s analysis of his social media posts underline the man’s penchant for self-promotion. And tells you everything about how comfortably he has slipped into the world of celebrity.
In 2013, he made 25 posts about fighting making it his favourite subject that year. Follow the timeline and he’s moved onto celebrities and fashion since; fighting gave him the status and now he’s exploiting it to the full.
The ring gave him bling and he is enjoying it to the full: £5.1m
of cars and £430k of watches filled his posts, and not a care in the world about showing them off. Who’s going to be stupid enough to try and rob him. This is a man whose dog kennel hosts a sign, “Beware of the dangerous owner”.
But he is mortal and like any proud parent, not shy of showing a photo of his new-born son. Every four days, if you’re counting but given the support he received from his own kin, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to learn of the change in perspective. He’s talking more about the important things in life than materialism.
And he hasn’t taken his own advice. Convinced he was becoming swallowed whole by self-promotion, McGregor declared, “There comes a time when you’ve got to stop handing out leaflets and get back to the shop.”
He’s done that for this fight. Since it was announced, 34% of his posts centred on training while 55% sold the bout. For such a small time investment, he’s walked into a $100m purse. Not bad for a bored plumber from Dublin…