Mayweather vs. McGregor is a bad idea, but we are still going to watch
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was at his most Mayweather on Saturday, announcing to a crowd in England that he planned to come out of retirement to fight the UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in June. In what should be called Mayweathering, the boxer called out, lectured and challenged his potential opponent, making the fight seem likely, if only McGregor would come to his senses.
We’ve seen this movie before, of course. It’s straight from the Mayweather playbook for hyping up a fight. That his announcement ignored some important details—McGregor’s contract with the UFC, for instance—mattered to the boxer not even a little bit. What mattered is what has always mattered to Mayweather: eyeballs, publicity, relevance—and how all that can be translated into cash.
This column, just the fact that I’m writing it at all, is proof of Mayweather’s marketing genius. The bout itself, should it happen, would be less of an actual fight and more of a publicity stunt, an event that would drive record traffic and vacuum-suck attention and end up like most Mayweather fights, in a unanimous decision that’s criticized as boring by those who don’t appreciate Mayweather’s defensive acumen.
Would I still cover it? I hope so.
That’s the rub with Mayweather, always has been, forever will be. Fans can hate the match-up. Hate the domestic violence record. Hate the cockiness, hate the hype cycle, hate the jewelry stashed and the money flashed. But they still watch, read and listen to Mayweather on repeat. This is exactly what he wants: maximum exposure and profit while minimizing risk as much as possible. That’s not to say Mayweather hasn’t taken risks, fought champions, or earned his Hall of Fame career. He’s just strategized through all of it.
We might want this story to go away but it will not. At the Super Bowl in Houston, a Mayweather insider insisted the champion would fight McGregor—and in June. No one would confirm that….