Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather are set to throw down on August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and here I take a time-out to consider the unthinkable – what actually happens if The Notorious knocks-out Money? It’s one helluva thought.
Mayweather is 49-0. Mayweather is the greatest boxer of all time. Mayweather has been boxing his whole life. McGregor has been boxing for six months. Mayweather is too fast. Manny Pacquiao couldn’t catch Mayweather, how is McGregor going to?
But what if he does? What if McGregor tags Mayweather with a trademark left? What if Mayweather hits the canvas and the referee stops the fight? What happens then? I take a look.
McGregor becomes the biggest sports star on the planet
A McGregor triumph on August 26 would dwarf Leicester City’s 5000/1 Premier League heroics in the 2015/2016 season. UFC president, Dana White, is of the opinion that a knock-out for McGregor would make him ‘the biggest athlete on earth.’ And I don’t think he is wrong.
Social Media is an accurate indicator of how far this fight is reaching. There are NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, rugby, cricket, football, tennis, motorsport, golf and of course boxing and MMA stars that are all deeply engaged in this duel. The achievement would not struggle for recognition in the public space.
But on a purely sporting level, it would also be quite magnificent. An Irishman who has never competed in a professional boxing bout knocks-out an American who is believed by many to be the greatest boxer of all time is quite some narrative.
How does ‘Conor Money McGregor’ for the rest of time sound?
If McGregor does the impossible there won’t be much more for him to achieve in combat sports.
It’s unlikely that he will ever get a bigger pay-day. He won’t need another pay-day. His reputation as a boxer will be as prestigious as it will ever be. With two different UFC titles to his name, his reputation as an MMA fighter will be as prestigious as it will ever be.
Unless of course he goes chasing Tyron Woodley’s Welterweight belt but with his son fast growing up, I think McGregor might choose to focus his energy on fatherhood and ‘building him [his son] up into a multiple free fighting world champion’.
The UFC explodes
The UFC is a strong product as it is. It’s grown from strength to strength in recent years. Admittedly, that is largely due to McGregor’s influence.
However, if the UFC’s best can beat boxing’s best then the former sporting code will begin to be viewed as the legitimate leader in combat sports, with or without McGregor.
That’s a position the company has never been in before. On a purely sporting level, young would-be boxers would surely start turning their attention to MMA in their pursuit to become the best fighter in the world.
A group of investors led by WME-IMG bought the UFC for $4 billion in 2016. Their stock will increase greatly if McGregor can topple boxing.
Regardless of the outcome of this bout, these are surely worrying times for boxing. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin are fighting in September and the interest in that clash is minuscule compared to the hype around McGregor-Mayweather.
People are more drawn to watching an MMA champion who’s never actually boxed square off against a 40-year-old who has been retired for two years than they are to witnessing the two finest middleweights, who are both in the absolute prime of their careers, lock horns.
That says a lot about the current state of boxing. Yes, McGregor is a household name but if boxing were healthy, he wouldn’t be able to hijack the sport as he has done.
If his hands are in the air come August 26, boxing will be on its knees. In fact, a McGregor ‘W’ might well be a punch that boxing never recovers from.
Mayweather’s legacy is ruined
Money is currently 49-0 in his professional boxing career, a record only matched by the legend, Rocky Marciano.
While he has come in for plenty of stick regarding his defensive style and lack of knock-outs (there have only been 26 in his career), he is still regarded as one of the greatest pound-for-pound scrappers that have ever graced the ring.
That view is especially held by a number of boxing purists who appreciate the technique and speed it requires to evade punches like Mayweather has done his whole career.
While not overly destructive, his punching is also alarmingly accurate and powerful. On August 26 all that will be under threat though.
Icons like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Sugar Ray Leonard will always be remembered as superstars despite bad performances late in their career, Mayweather will not be afforded that leeway if he loses to McGregor because of the circumstances of the meeting.
It’s the most lucrative fight in boxing and McGregor has never boxed before. Defeat would be a blow Mayweather’s reputation would simply not be able to shrug off… ever. Greed is a bottomless pit, Floyd.