Monday 24 July 2017

Comment - Many boxing purists who pooh-pooh this McGregor-Mayweather fight will secretly buy it

It's on. Floyd Mayweather against Conor McGregor will come in for as much criticism as it does hype and bluster. But on August 26 - barring accident or injury - the best boxer of the generation will face the stellar name in the neophyte, yet hugely popular, sport of mixed martial arts.

They will box in this mega-event, which leaves all the aces in the hands of Mayweather.

They will fight over 12 rounds in Las Vegas, the American's home for more than a decade, and they will fight at 154lbs, light middleweight in boxing and one pound short of the lightweight limit in the UFC, the division in which which McGregor is the champion.

They will say that McGregor has no chance, but he is a southpaw with a very heavy left hand.

No-one - including an array of future Hall of Famer's in Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Saul Alvarez - have been able to land combinations on the bad boy of American boxing, a marketing genius who has already grossed the best part of  $700million (£549m).

When the sums are in for this summer superfight - and it is that, in spite of the disparity in boxing ability - Mayweather may take his earnings close to the billion-dollar mark.

I think this will outstrip all pay per view records in history, including the 4.6million buys which made Mayweather-Pacquiao the largest-grossing fight in history here just two years ago.

Without admitting it, many of the boxing purists who pooh-pooh this fight will secretly buy it. Why not?

After all, the greatest defensive boxer in history should deal easily with the irascible Irishman who will offer a carnival of interest through his gift of the gab in the build-up.

Personally, I'm delighted we only have to wait 10 weeks because the entertainment will be off the charts.

The fight itself ? Probably not. McGregor will bring his A-game and throw plenty of shots, and his ability to deliver on his promises makes one feel at times that he did not just kiss the Blarney Stone as a kid, but swallow it.

Neither MMA nor boxing will suffer from this fight. Well, if Mayweather loses - while pocketing more than £80million minimum - boxing will have egg on its face and MMA fans will never let them forget it.

McGregor has the X-factor, the ability to make the seemingly impossible possible, but this is a step too far.

In spite of being 28 to Mayweather's 40, McGregor will find himself hitting over and over again - and possibly being countered a lot. Mayweather will dance to the tune that has seen him go undefeated in 49 fights over two decades, winning world titles in five weight divisions.

They are both brilliant in their own ways, the two most popular, most-followed and most talked-about men in combat sports, but these are very distinct sporting codes.

Mayweather will walk away at 50-0, eclipsing Rocky Marciano's unbeaten record, and when the boos and catcalls die down, both sports will return to their own corners and normal service will be resumed. But for now - let's just treat this as entertainment - and a fun fight for the ages.

 

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