After months of speculation, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor have agreed to square off in a boxing match in Las Vegas on Aug. 26, thus giving combat-sports fans the spectacle that millions wanted.
Some boxing fans, however, aren’t exactly enthralled with this matchup. Mayweather, who is going for 50-0, has a lot to lose, mainly perfection and legacy, as does the sport of boxing itself. After all, what would happen if one of the greatest boxers in history lost to a UFC fighter making his boxing debut?
“I know the boxing purist maybe isn’t completely enthusiastic about it,” Showtime Sports Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “But you get these two personalities together in a promotion for the next eight weeks – I don’t know how they’re going to make it through those eight weeks without tearing each other’s heads off. Then you’ve got one of the best boxers maybe in history against one of the best MMA fighters in history. Yes, one’s a boxer and one’s an MMA guy, but one guy is 40 years old and out of the sport two years, and the other guy is (28) years old and in his prime and a bigger guy. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really don’t.”
Scott Ferrall, for one, couldn’t care less what boxing purists think about the sanctity of this fight. We’ve got Mayweather, and we’ve got McGregor. That’s all that matters.
“It is a little funny,” Espinoza acknowledged. “Let’s step back for a minute. We are talking about a sport where two grown men punch each other for money, so let’s not get too high up on our high horse and start talking about the sanctity of the sport. I’m as much of a fan of skilled boxing as anybody. But how can you not get excited for the amount of emotion and the spectacle that this thing is going to be?”
Especially given the quick turnaround. Fans don’t have to wait six or seven or eight months to see this fight. That’s a good thing.
The fact that it occurs right before football season kicks off likely isn’t a coincidence, either.
“It is quick turnaround, but I think it’s a great time to have an event like this,” Espinoza said. “This one’s coming right up. You get excited right now. It’s going to be here (soon). And what really is going on in the sports calendar between now and August 26? I know baseball fans love summer baseball, but what really do we have to look forward to until the start of NFL season? Really, there’s not much. So I think this is really going to take a lot of space up in this gap when a lot of sports fans don’t know quite what to do with themselves.”
But will the fight live up to the hype? The general consensus is that McGregor (21-3) has no chance against Mayweather (49-0) – and the Las Vegas odds reflect that.
“That’s what we all think, but we really don’t know,” Espinoza said. “That’s the great thing about boxing. You really don’t know. MMA, too. You can be losing every round and get a knockout in the 12th round and all of a sudden you’re the champion. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more concerned I am. And that’s not just me selling the fight. There’s a certain arrogance in Floyd because he’s always been the more skilled, the best guy, every fight he’s walked into. Is he still that at 40 years old having sat on the couch for two years? We’ll find out.”