Thursday 17 August 2017

Comment: Conor McGregor has been an embarrassment to Ireland during this week's circus

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor faceoff
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor faceoff
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

For many young men in this country, Conor McGregor is an untouchable symbol of sporting success.

He is their warrior in green, white and orange, their standard bearer for Irishness who has emerged from nothing and turned himself into a multi-millionaire.

When these kids get their tattoos to look like their hero and grow beards to try and follow the McGregor doctrine, they are worshiping an icon who is arguably the most famous Irishman in the world right now.

Yet while his success is admirable in many ways, the vulgar, embarrassing farce he has been a part of this week should see him recast, as he has gone out of his way to pollute this nation’s reputation with each and every word that escaped from his mouth this week.

It can only be hoped that the kids who are influenced by King Conor have been wrapped up in their beds long before he has taken to the stage for three nights of ludicrous, crass and cringeworthy press conferences alongside his next opponent Floyd Mayweather.

Serious sports fans were never likely to treat the contest between unbeaten Hall of Fame boxer Mayweather and novice pugilist McGregor as anything other than a distraction, yet the publicity tour designed to whip up interest in the August 26th meeting in Las Vegas was a chance to generate serious interest in the event.

Clearly, sporting events that already come with built-in credibility attached do not need to arrange a publicity tour to convince the general public to take it seriously, yet we all know that Mayweather v McGregor is as a joke of sporting contest dressed up in a glitzy package.

US sports fans are being be asked to pay up to $99.95 to watch a mismatch organisers hope with generate $500m in revenue, yet if the press conferences were designed to whip up enthusiasm for the ‘fight of the year’, then McGregor and Mayweather have missed a chance.

The fake animosity displayed by the duo as they have laughed their way through pantomime-like appearances has been impossible for anyone unfortunate enough to witness the charade to believe.

Throw in the relentless expletives both have offered up, the racial slurs and promotion of polar bear killing from McGregor, as well as Mayweather’s disrespect of the Irish flag as he paraded the tricolor around like an old rag one and the only conclusion can be that this ‘show’ has been a disgusting blight on society.

US TV channel Showtime need boxing fans to take this seriously as they are trying to sell this madness to the huge audience that has bought Maywether fights on their network over the last decade and more, with the sprinkling of UFC and McGregor fans designed to add to the appeal of the August 26th jamboree.

To those who conceived this event, it looked like an open door to creating countless millions for all involved, yet what happens if boxing lovers take offence to what we have witnessed in these three press conferences and opt not to sign up for McGregor v Mayweather? Will there be enough UFC/McGregor fans to plug the financial hole left behind?

With illegal streams certain to be running this event to anyone who doesn’t fancy paying for it, hopes of setting new pay-per-view records when these two superstars lock horns may end up being fanciful and yet the biggest reputation wrecked at the end of all this may be McGregor’s.

Clearly, the Dubliner has no chance of ending Mayweather’s 49-fight unbeaten run in Las Vegas next month, with his inevitable defeat certain to expose the amateur boxing talents he is hoping the paying public will ignore amid the explosion of hype around this fight.

Yet while he will get over a sporting defeat, it’s hard to imagine this personality who has long divided Irish popular opinion will ever be taken seriously again in light of the loutish, vile antics he has displayed on stage alongside Mayweather this week.

McGregor has come across as unintelligent, ill-informed and naive in some of his ugly comments and if he is the modern version of an Irish role model, then this country’s morals are in a far worse state than we feared.

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