By Tris Dixon
SOMETHINGS in life just do not make sense. The same applies in boxing. The same applies in business. Yet sometimes things that do not make sense are the most obvious and necessary.
Floyd Mayweather might well fight UFC star Conor McGregor in an oddity of a boxing match; a future International Boxing Hall of Fame first-ballot shoe-in against an Irishman who lost three fights ago and might struggle to win a domestic title in the Noble Art, let alone a world crown.
Boxing aficionados would rightly scoff at the money-making idea, though many will probably buy it on the quiet – should it happen. The history boys, those most knowledgeable in all fistic matters, might have to watch between their fingers if it’s the fight that Mayweather uses to propel him beyond the historic 49-0 Rocky Marciano digits, to reach 50-0.
There are those who, should Mayweather win, will refuse to accept that as his record. But that record will be left standing long after they have gone, their dissenting voices covered by the sands of time.
But for Mayweather, wealthy beyond the average millionaire’s wildest dreams, the list of opponents is short. In boxing terms, there are perhaps three names remaining he can make big money against. The biggest would be a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, but there’s little interest in that by comparison to what happened when they first met, there is certainly less intrigue about the fight and there would be a good deal less money around for a second go-round.
The second and third plausible opponents fight in September in boxing’s biggest fight of the year (though Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko may have something to say about that), when Mexican star Saul Alvarez takes on middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin. Alvarez was already beaten out of sight by Mayweather – handed a ridiculous draw on one of the worst scorecards in modern boxing history – and Mayweather probably has no real business fighting at 160lbs to face Golovkin given that he’s turned 40 and never come close to weighing that amount in his career. Of course, those history boys would relish seeing him rise in weight, but GGG now needs to get by Alvarez and in light of recent results and performances that does not appear the given it was a year or so ago.
Regardless of that, when you project the finances of what Floyd could earn against Pacquiao, Alvarez or Golovkin – and what kind of audience numbers they would draw on pay-per-view – they pale into insignificance against what Mayweather-McGregor would do at the box office. It would just be a mega event. And whether you’d like to hear it or not, it’s probably bigger than anything that has gone before it in boxing – in a commercial sense.
That’s not to denigrate the achievements of those greats who, over the last century or more, have paved the way in boxing, it’s just the way of the world in which we live.
Mayweather-McGregor conversation has crossed over into globo-gyms, supermarkets, in barbershops and into schools – and into the playgrounds of schools where parents wait to collect their children. And it is only getting bigger.
Now purists might point to the emergence of Errol Spence, the unbeaten record of Keith Thurman and so on; directions a returning Mayweather could take. There will always be new kids on the block. We are, after all, nearly 10 years on from the days when Mayweather and Pacquiao began to really set themselves aside from the pack and stand atop of boxing, in firm possession of the pound-for-pound spots, numbers one and two. But against Spence or Thurman – yet to announce themselves outside of boxing’s hardcore – the numbers would not add up. They do not add up. Not to anything like Mayweather-McGregor digits, that is for sure.
There are not many million-buy pay-per-views on tap in boxing. Mayweather-Pacquiao was a 4.6m home-run monster, and there is certainly nothing brewing that would come close to that.
Mayweather does not need or want the hassle of a small payday. He wants to earn big and win big. McGregor is the key to that. And yes, Floyd should be the A-side. But without McGregor, the jump down to Floyd’s next possible fighting payday is considerable; the counter argument is that without McGregor there just will not be another payday. That is Floyd’s choice and his right. It is not his fault that no one in boxing has been able to establish themselves as a legitimate threat to him so late in his career. Yes, there were challenges the public wanted him to face years ago but that was then.
This is now. And the reality is that to earn the kind of money that he’s become accustomed to making there is no sense in fighting once, twice or three times when he can get the same money or more in one clean, final heist.
Mayweather-McGregor might not make sense to you. It does not need to. It needs to generate interest across different age groups, across different demographics, tap into a wide audience and build on a storyline that has already generated considerable global interest. Floyd knows how to play this game better than anyone, and you shouldn’t hate the player, but the game that enables it – should you need to hate at all.
You might not like it, but that’s business. That’s show business. And ultimately, that’s boxing.