Comment: Why McGregor v Mayweather has just been given a huge injection of much-needed credibility
After all the hype and the unnecessarily ugly controversy, Conor McGregor's showdown with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on August 26th has finally been given some much-needed credibility.
The clash between a boxing debutant and one of the sport's all-time legends has been widely ridiculed by genuine fans of the sport in recent week, with the shameful antics of the two fighters since the event was announced fuelling the feeling that they were not even taking the contest seriously.
The duo's high profile and press tour designed to promote the fight turned into a highly controversial and somewhat vile spectacle, with McGregor and Mayweather both accused of offering up racist and homophobic comments amid a series of expletive-laden exchanges.
Yet despite the pessimism, the cynicism and the suspicion that this is almost certain to be a sporting mismatch, confirmation that Sky Sports have embraced the contest and will promote it on their highly successful pay-per-view platform has given the fight described by many boxing fans as a 'circus' a whole new feel.
Sky may have had their critics down the years, yet there can be no doubting they are the undisputed kings of promoting their sporting content to a vast audience.
Their success in helping to transform the English Premier League into an incredibly successful global brand over the last 25-years highlights the power they have when they put their promotional machine behind an event, with the huge viewing figure and vast crowds that now attend darts events in the UK, Ireland and Holland on a regular basis also a tribute to the gold dust Sky can sprinkle.
Significantly, Sky are also the masters of showcasing boxing, with promoter Eddie Hearn helping to revive what was a flagging sport to a point where he could sell 90,000 tickets in double quick time for a fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitchsko at Wembley Stadium in April, while also propelling Ireland’s golden girl Katie Taylor to world title stardom.
With Sky Sports News now set to be used as a platform to sell pay-per-view and the prices for the event set at £19.95 in the UK and €24.95 for Republic of Ireland, Sky will now begin the process of convincing their huge boxing audience that this is a fight they should invest in.
It remains to be seen whether enough boxing fans will buy into McGregor’s improbable dream of bringing Mayweather’s unbeaten record to an end, but there is no doubt that Sky offer the two fighters their best chance to drain every last penny out of this jamboree in the UK and Ireland.
If you were not already aware that McGregor v Mayweather was set to be the dominant sporting story of the next month, then Sky Sports will make sure that the countdown clock to the fight is propelled onto our TV screens on a regular basis between now and August 26th and even if you don’t want to get excited by this fight, you can bet that your curiosity will be pricked time and again over the next month.
Whether you can ever be convinced that McGregor v Mayweather is a serious sporting battle, the endorsement from the biggest boxing promoters in this part of the world has changed as the mood around this fight in an instant.
This show just got interesting.