It wasn’t supposed to be this way. All the nay-sayers and negativists, they were saying what a dud it was going to be, and to an extent I was too.
A rip-off, a heist, whatever.
When the final bell rang, no one, say for die-hard Mayweather haters, really said they lost out that big. We won’t really know until weeks later to see what the most expensive fight in history has done for both mixed martial arts and Queensbury prizefighting.
However I’m willing to go out and say, it was actually pretty good.
What did we get? In my view, here’s what we learned from Mayweather vs McGregor.
Well, besides a pretty entertaining undercard to support it, we saw a main event that was predictable but not dull, strangely captivating even as it went further.
Many were surprised to see McGregor show the valour and discipline with many thinking he’d revert to MMA tactics.
He did no such thing as he landed punches, more than other previous Mayweather opponents, more than Manny Pacquaio and almost matching Canelo Alvarez, and even won rounds as we wondered if Mayweather, who looked bad to start – was growing old in front of us.
Well, no, he didn’t age dramatically. Sure he wasn’t anywhere near what he once was, but it was the plan he chose to follow that dictated how the fight went.
Floyd followed a tight fight plan and sped up after the fourth round and connected shots at will from that point forward.
McGregor, brave as his performance was, showed his complete lack of boxing endurance, breathing with his mouth open and exhausted and by the third round, throwing less and less as the bout moved deeper.
One of mixed martial arts best strikers and stand-up fighters simply couldn’t compete with boxer Floyd Mayweather, even at the end of Mayweather’s career.
Yes, the comical premise of the fight was that we were watching the greatest boxer of the era fight a boxing novice in his debut fight, but generation gap and style difference was the paradox making this whole thing vaguely plausible to begin with.
All the pre-fight analysis, that which actually focused on the boxing match and not the freakish buildup was centered on questions such as, “Is Floyd too old?” “Will Conor’s youth and power be enough?”
We all knew the answers, but wanted to watch anyway, even the complaint department of the audience.
It speaks to a desire that people have, putting the insane egos of the two men aside (which happily tempered after the fight, mind you, with both fighters complementing each other in the post-fight interviews), of wanting to see upsets, champions defeated and new champions crowned, seeing the impossible achieved, and fans being egotistical in their own right by patting themselves on the back after seeing their predictions, no matter how improbable, fulfilled.
Let’s face it, if McGregor won – those who predicted he’d win would say what geniuses they were and they were the only ones who saw it coming.
None of us will even remember who they are in a few weeks. The more outlandish the prophecy, the less anyone will cares if you’re wrong.
Everyone remember the glitch, no one remembers the normal.
Make no mistake, this fight was in some sense a mirror of those who watched it. It should go without saying what a disaster the pre-fight press tour was in all the wrong type of attention it netted.
The machismo, the disgraceful amount of money which can’t be ignored (the ticket and pay-per-view prices were abhorrent), the trash talking which delved into borderline racism and homophobia in the eyes of some – whether one interpreted it that way or not.
It was a self-perpetuating embarrassment. Full stop.
The athleticism of some of the world’s greatest fighters was the last thing on people’s minds as the carnival-like press conferences degenerated into petty insults and vainglorious bragging.
Yet it wasn’t widely condemned.
It’s simply what people wanted to see on the whole, perhaps a worrying indictment of modern society and culture more than anything.
T-Mobile Arena didn’t even sell out this fight. Alas, it sells nearly every single time which is why it’s still done and when we deride it, we cannot do so without accepting some responsibility.
We were all in our cars rubbernecking the accident on the shoulder, and it was the worst, the “F*** You” suit, not the fight itself that will be remembered at bars and water coolers.
All of this got exacerbated in juxtaposition by the superb heavyweight clash between Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua in April in a sold-out Wembley Stadium.
Two sparring partners and friends who delivered one of the best firefights in boxing in recent memory with both men surviving knockdowns, back and forth action, and genuine suspense.
The same questions were there in principle, “Is Wlad too old? Can Joshua overcome Klitschko’s experience?”.
Yet the result was very different. What we got was a far better fight and an exemplar of the sport, and no garbage along with it.
One thing that’s still puzzling is the whole, ‘MMA vs. Boxing; element.
There’s competition between the two, but only in the business sense. It’s really a non-issue and in reality a lazy complaint that many use or will use when their favored fighter doesn’t win in these crossover matchups.
These are wildly different sports driven by both personality and individual talent.
We already saw a boxer go into the octagon and beat an MMA champion. Remember Holly Holm defeating the then-invincible Ronda Rousey?
Holm was a boxer than kickboxer who went into the mixed martial arts world and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent years.
Also, boxing titlist James Toney went on to be completely out of his element and get wiped out in MMA by grappling specialist Randy Couture who was even older than Toney.
What should be self-evident is that crossing over in either way requires a total gear change in how a fighter operates and approaches a match.
It’s just not worth the time to entertain the, “It’s not a real fight,” complaints.
It’s like some people wanted the two to start a bar room brawl over a woman or sports team. An MMA matchup was never feasible which is why Conor wanted to box Mayweather.
To expect a forty-year old boxer to just now begin to learn what some take a lifetime to master in terms of grappling and ground fighting, is simply stupid (re: back to the James Toney fight).
It merely reflects what has made Floyd Mayweather one of the most popular and successful boxers ever, he is the anti-hero we all want to see lose, fair fight or not, no matter what.
It would be nice if the momentum and attention received transposed into what’s going to be a stellar end to an already remarkable year for boxing.
The ‘Super Fly’ card with former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez and the other top four super flyweights, the World Boxing Super Series tournaments, and the next super fight with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin all take place next month.
Mixed martial arts had longed bested boxing for better matchups and now boxing is finally punching back.