Mayweather-McGregor: The Postmortem
(Originally Published: August, 2017 @ Boxing.com)
Well, Mayweather-McGregor happened. And boxing is still here.
Actually, if the so-called “purists” would’ve unclenched their butt cheeks for about an hour or so, they might’ve had a good time with a good little spectacle.
At the very least, now these defenders of boxing’s sanctity can ditch the obnoxious grandstanding and go back to tolerating mismatches and cash grabs as “quaint” parts of the hard-knock boxing milieu.
The fight, itself, played out pretty much like I imagined it would. Mayweather carried an earnest but overmatched McGregor for a few rounds and then gradually ratcheted up the pressure until the Irishman fell to pieces. Mayweather fought at 40% and it was still 30% more than he needed to put McGregor away.
But this mega-spectacle was never about the spirit of competition, even though UFC faithful and casual-curious fight fans swore that Conor had a real shot at stopping Floyd.
No, this fight, at least for the non-participants, was about opportunities and the chance to realistically reach the type of sports fan who hasn’t been interested in boxing since the non-weepy, non-wacky, non-gentrified Mike Tyson walked the Earth.
The world was watching on Saturday and, surprisingly enough, Mayweather didn’t disappoint. All in all, the event was as legit as such a thing could ever be. Everyone on the “Money Fight” end of things executed honorably (again, as honorably as could be expected from such an event).
The only ones who DIDN’T come through for the sport were the aforementioned boxing “purists,” who griped, whined, and pretend-boycotted their way through the fight’s entire build-up and then griped, whined, and pretend-boycotted some more all throughout fight night.
With a huge wave of new and impressionable fans showing up right at their doorstep, eager to consume, boxing’s self-appointed keepers of its sanctity chose to insult their intelligence and do everything possible to chase them away. In boxing terms, it was like your opponent serving his chin up to you on a platter…and you respond by hitting YOURSELF.
With Mayweather-McGregor, we saw a scenario play out where a boxing event could become the biggest of all time without the support of its most loyal, hardcore fans. Think about that. What would it say about the state of football if the Super Bowl continued to prosper, but was no longer driven by the actual sport of football?
Boxing fans, with their snobbery, myopia, and prejudices have marginalized themselves to such an extent that they no longer matter. Simply put, they are dying off and are no longer the engine that drives the motor of promotion. Any boxing promoter worth his salt will tell you that the real money in boxing these days comes from selling the fights to the “casuals” and not to the hardcore. It wasn’t always like that, but it’s certainly like that now.
Decades of shutting itself off from the mainstream has created a culture of exclusion among the hardcore base. Boxing’s base is now elderly (or elderly at heart), cranky, and mega-resistant to change. They are a group that would rather grasp at memories of yesteryear than try to understand the here-and-now.
And because they clutch at the past so desperately and fight so hard against dealing with present tense reality, they have allowed the world to pass them by.
The silliness of decrying the sordid cynicism of Mayweather-McGregor in a world built on sordid cynicism was frustratingly absurd. And the fact that many would protest a cynical mismatch in Floyd vs. Conor by throwing their support behind its same day competition, Miguel Cotto vs. Yoshiro Kamegai, a brutally cynical mismatch in and of itself, was testament to just how out of touch many of these gatekeepers of boxing’s integrity have become.
Fights like Mayweather-McGregor happen because there’s a market for big-time prizefighting in America, yet a dearth of big-time prizefighters. It’s really that simple.
It’s not about the “dumbing down of society” or any such pompous nonsense. It’s about finding a way to sell the sport to the masses when the masses have been chased away from the sport in droves.
Boxing’s hardest of hardcore fans have allowed for corruption, convenient ignorance, and criminal negligence to rob the sport of its credibility. They have allowed boxing to fester and spoil and seldom raise their voice in anything above a token protest. They have allowed the sport’s promoters to grow fat and lazy on easy money culled from bait and switch hustles rather than push them to actually promote the sport beyond the already-sold base.
Yet they have the nerve to emerge from their decades-long nap to protest a silly novelty fight between a retired legend and a UFC star?
Give us all a fucking break.
Mayweather-McGregor was never ideal, but it was real—at least in the sense that it created the opportunity to bring new blood and fresh faces to the sport. The fact that the bout seemed to satisfy many of these newcomers is a good thing. Maybe some will be back.
Whether this mega-spectacle will have any long-term benefit for the sport remains to be seen. Maybe it won’t. But, again, it was real and it was something—and much better than boxing’s current strategy of nothing and nothing when it comes to crossing over into the mainstream.
Boxing “purists” should be ecstatic at any chance to bring some new life to the sport. But they aren’t and they won’t be. They are happy with the sport being their own private club and will continue to fight against the realities facing them until they either die or are chased away by a sport that no longer fulfills their raging man-fantasies.
Good things are happening in boxing right now. There’s a worldwide expansion in progress and TV deals that offer real chances for mainstream expansion are starting to pop up. People want to embrace boxing. It’s just too bad that so many of the sport’s die-hards refuse to be part of any movement forward.