Column: Mayweather in search of attention, not a fight
Floyd Mayweather Jr. wants attention more than he wants a fight.
And, really, let’s be truthful here. It wouldn’t be much of a fight if Mayweather and Conor McGregor met in a boxing ring.
Put them in a UFC cage and it might be different. Mayweather has never had to fight while rolling around on the canvas and his shoulder roll defense wouldn’t be terribly effective against an experienced MMA fighter going after an arm bar submission.
But that wasn’t on Mayweather’s radar when he went on ESPN’s ”First Take” on Wednesday and said he was open to coming out of retirement if McGregor wanted a boxing match and was willing to let Mayweather both promote it and write the terms of the deal.
”Bring him over to the boxing world, and I’ll show him what it’s like,” Mayweather said.
Don’t worry about trying to find $99.95 for the pay-per-view just yet. The chances of Mayweather and McGregor actually meeting in a boxing ring are about as good as Mayweather fighting Ronda Rousey, a laughable match that some in the MMA community were taking seriously not so long ago.
A bit of a shame, though not because a match between the two men would be worth anyone investing their time and money into. The trash talking and showmanship would be championship caliber, as befits two fighters who both know something about selling tickets.
McGregor showed as much when he tweeted a drawing of him standing over a knocked out Mayweather, with a line beneath it referencing Mayweather’s domestic abuse issues from a few years back.
No, Mayweather and McGregor is a match destined never to happen, no matter how much money could conceivably be at stake. For that, both boxing and MMA fans should be grateful, because as good as McGregor is at what he does, he wouldn’t stand a chance against a star fighter who was throwing punches before he learned how to walk.
”Let him step into a boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather because everyone knows what the outcome would be,” longtime Mayweather confidante Leonard Ellerbe said last month. ”He would get his ass beat from pillar to post.”
Surely, McGregor understands that, even if he fancies his ability to hit people in the head. The UFC’s biggest star applied for a boxing license in California last month, but there’s no indication he’s serious about switching fighting disciplines.
There’s also no indication that either UFC chieftain Dana White or the Hollywood types who recently paid $4 billion for the company would allow it to happen. With Rousey exposed by losses in her last two fights, McGregor is the UFC’s biggest attraction by far and they’re not going to risk his marketability by getting him beaten up in a boxing match.
Besides, what Mayweather is suggesting isn’t for negotiations for the two to fight. It’s a take it or leave it offer, with his guarantee starting at around $100 million against $15 million for McGregor.
”They know what my number is,” Mayweather said. ”My number is a guaranteed $100 million. That was my number.”
Mayweather was making the rounds trying to promote a fight card this weekend in New York when he made the comments about McGregor. He succeeded in making a splash and getting people talking about him again, so he did his job.
It helps that he has an easy crowd to play to. Boxing fans tend to be gullible when it comes to fanciful matchups, and UFC fans tend to even more gullible when it comes to their sport. They believe any match can be made, even one between a retired 39-year-old boxer and a UFC fighter who has never faced anyone with professional boxing skills.
Still, give Mayweather credit for putting himself in the conversation again, more than a year after his retirement. And there was some real news to it, with Mayweather saying he had no interest in returning to face Manny Pacquiao once again.
Now Mayweather can turn his attention to the other fight everyone is talking about. He claims to be promoting a celebrity boxing match between rapper Soulja Boy and singer Chris Brown.
Finally, a fight worth paying for.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg