Roll up! Roll up! Roll up!
Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor!
The Ultimate Fight in Las Vegas!
Mayweather, the undefeated boxing champion to beat ’em all, v the Irish UFC fighter McGregor who has beaten them all up in his own sport – and now needs someone bigger to work over!
Not just a battle between fighters, but between sports! Not just the 39-year-old Old Bull v the 28-year-old Young Bull, but Ye Olde Pugilistic Art v Street Thuggery pretending to a respectability it does not remotely possess.
Friends, it is tabloid heaven, and it broke in the Irish Sun on Monday, instantly generating headlines around the world.
“Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather,” the paper quoted a source close to the Irishman, “have agreed a deal to fight and have both settled on their respective fees. The contract hasn’t officially been signed yet because of a third party hold-up but all the details have all been agreed on. The fight could even be announced within two weeks.”
And yes, of course, Mayweather, has since downplayed the report with some quotes of his own, but, happily, I speak fluent boxer and can translate:
“There seems,” Mayweather said, “to be several rumours floating around media recently however, let the record show, there hasn’t been any deals made in regards to a fight between myself and any other fighters.” (Translation: Like the Irish Sun says, I have not yet actually put pen to paper to sign the contract. What I’d actually like, first, is to squeeze a few more million dollars out of the promoters. They’re currently talking $100 million for each of us, but I want more. My name is bigger than his.)
“I am happily retired and enjoying life at this time. (Look, I think even my supporters are laughing hard at that one. In the history of the world no one with my record just says ‘I’ve had enough’ and walks away. We will always come back for more, and I will, too. I just want to squeeze a few more million out of them, did I mention?)
“If any changes are to come, be sure that I will be the first to let the world know.” (“Come on, gimme a few more million! You can see the publicity even this report is generating, you must KNOW that this thing will turn over a billion dollars!”)
For his part, McGregor has already waxed lyrical on his chances. “I’ve got the reach. I’ve got youth. I’ve got the confidence. I’ve got the unpredictable style. You can’t prepare for a style like me. Why conquer one world when you can conquer two? So I’m going to go conquer two worlds.” (Translation: “$100 million? That’ll do me!”)
In sum, my pound to your peanut says it will happen. And my pound to your peanut farm says it will be a farce.
Older readers will remember that in 1976, the great Muhammad Ali took on the world’s wrestling champion, Antonio Inoki, in Tokyo, in what was billed as the “Fight of the Century”, before a global audience of 1.4 billion.
It was actually the Farce of the Century. What we saw, instead of a genuine contest, was Muhammad standing over the poor bastard who refused to stand and kept kicking him in the leg.
“The celebrated ‘Bout of the Century’ turned out to be the rip-off of the century,” the Japan Times noted the next day. “The 15-round contest was pretty much a bore from start to finish. Ending in a draw, it proved once again that when an apple fights an orange, the results can only be a fruit salad.”
For, what rules could they come up with to make it an actual contest?
On one side you have boxing, based on Marquis of Queensbury rules, which, from 1865, maintains that, “you must not fight simply to win; no holds barred is not the way; you must win by the rules.” Those rules are very explicit and based on the notion that boxing is an art, that rules are followed by gentlemen and that thugs need not apply to win in their thuggish ways.
And on the other side you have UFC – much more lethal and multifaceted than mere kickboxing – which says, broadly, that “the only rule is are that there are no rules, and anything goes!”
In pure fighting terms, it is putting a boxer with a hammer, up against a UFC fighter with a hammer, a chainsaw, a grappling hook, a knife and the sledgehammer that is his foot flying at his opponent’s head.
How do you make that an even contest?
You don’t. You just make it appear an even contest in some contrived manner, you sell the rights, sell the tickets and make hundreds of millions of dollars as the suckers pour in.
“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,” the great H.L. Mencken once wrote, and this, friends, will prove to be the second-greatest example of that, after the ascension of President Donald Trump. But it runs it close … which is saying something.