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Like the bite of the infected tsetse fly, today’s big time boxing promoters (not all) spread the disease of greed and corruption onto the sport.
It’s the age old story. A sly grin develops into a handshake with a roll of cash inside. A greedy back door deal taken to a new level of hypocrisy and criminal intent fills the promoter’s clandestine agenda.
The upcoming Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor mega fight suggests a major con job, a money grab, and a glaring mismatch.
For one thing each fighter displays two entirely different skill sets…applicable to two different sports. Mayweather, a brilliant boxer, uses a cerebral objectivity to outthink his opponents, and his undefeated record of 49 wins, 0 losses matches his nearly twenty year success story as a pugilist.
McGregor, on the other hand, is a mixed-martial artist, a rugged cage fighter who punches hard wearing four ounce, wrap-around gloves. In the glaring heat of the octagon, at any time, at any moment, he can KO an opponent with either hand. He also has a tenacious ground game which renders his rival helpless pounding the mat in the agony of submission. He has an impressive record of 21 wins, 3 losses, with 18 KOs and 1-3 submissions. His work is very impressive.
_Why are they fighting?_
Money. Lots of it. Pay Per View numbers could exceed an estimated 4.5 million buys…a staggering number given the fact Mayweather is a boxer, while McGregor is a martial artist.
The big fight is less than six weeks away. McGregor, a sturdy, high octane combatant claims he enjoys crashing an elbow into the side of his opponent’s head. In fact, he really gets off on it (Yike!) Although he won’t be able to use his elbows, feet, or nasty spinning back kicks on Floyd, he has probably thought about it.
This, after all, is a boxing match and McGregor has agreed to abide by the Marquess of Queensberry Rules for the match.
Giddy, hyper-active fan boys go goofy at McGregor’s pressers. They are staring down the rifle barrel of the August 26th dustup and are wildly excited to see their hero in action.
The event is held at the fabulous T-Mobil Area in big city friendly Las Vegas, Nevada. Just make sure to bring plenty of money to part with at slot machines or poker tables inside the casinos. HBO’s Pay Per View is covering the match live at a bargain price of only $99.95, a nickel short of a hundred dollar bill, too much for the average worker, but, hey, promoters see dollar signs dancing in their eyes.
Rich movie moguls and film stars like Sly Stallone, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Walberg are able to afford the pricy, overly hyped ringside tickets. Being boxing enthusiasts they more than likely will turn up for the event.
On fight night the promoters promise everybody wins. Nobody goes away a loser.
_Who are the major players?_
Dana White, a burly, salivating, seven-figure man anticipates yet another multi-million dollar payday. A major mixed martial arts promoter, he calls the bout not just another boxing match, but an international sensation while being interviewed by a doting YouTube reporter.
As usual White is quick to callout out Bob Arum (deservedly so) as he talks, sniffs and plugs a leaking nostril with a bar napkin to keep the conversation going. He calls Arum an A-hole three times during the interview, so you know what he thinks of Uncle Bobby. You remember Bob Arum, don’t you? He’s the aged, ex Bobby Kennedy lawyer turned fight promoter. His most recent claim to fame was allegedly undermining his cash cow Manny Pacquiao whose recent controversial WBO welterweight title loss to Australia’s Jeff Horn was in all the papers, and made the rounds on social media outlets throughout the world.
Next in line promoting the blockbuster extravaganza is none other than the fight’s principal participant, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Junior. He’s zoned into the task at hand. In the humid stench of a sweat-filled gym he rips body shots into a ponderous heavy bag doing hard work to make sure the battle with McGregor turns into easy work on the night the fight goes down.
Standing off to the side of a boxing ring in the shadow cast by the ring apron, Floyd Senior, ever the media attention seeker, pushes his beaming leathery old face up to a microphone. There’s another half minute delay as the reporter’s question floats in the air like a puff of thorny residue breaking free from a plumed cobweb.
“Listen,” Senior eventually responds, “I’m gone tell you…right here…how the fights gone end…”
Gullible, linked in, super testosterone charged millennial –the kind knowing all about boxing before questions about the sport are asked –crowd the high end malls and trendy sports bars of the world chatting up the upcoming boxing match, and damned be anyone indicating the match might be as one-sided as many pundits and analysts predict.
No mismatch. Not gonna happen, says a twenty something warehouse worker from Lizard Springs, West Virginia.
In America, sports addicted millennial gaze at Teddy Atlas on a plasma screen on the wall of their favorite sports bar. Huddled in small, isolated groups, they guzzle a few cold ones and listen to Teddy’s fight prediction.
“The odds are tipping toward a Mayweather mismatch.” Teddy explains in a head feinting, herky-jerky, bobbing and weaving motion ranking on par with the late, great Mohammad Ali.
“Unless you’re a rabbit coming out of a rabbit hole after unloading a fresh stash of carrots on a warm summer day, it is what it is.” Teddy breaks into another one of his timeless, long winded, yet thoroughly hilarious analogies. Somehow he carries the analogy over and plants it like a sweet smelling rose into the middle of his fight analysis.
“You can’t be human,” Teddy says, “if you see it any other way than what it is…a colossal mismatch. Not saying McGregor doesn’t have a chance… because he does… but it’s a puncher’s chance. And a twenty-eight year old guy in his prime like McGregor can crack.”
They listen intently, hanging on Teddy’s every word before the segment ends and they go back to arguing among themselves.
_Mega fight sparks global interest_
Chatter about the mega fight is not just an American phenomenon. In sports bars all over the world from Canada to fight crazed Brazil, to the moderately conservative European theatre, people are talking. They’re talking in Russia, Japan and in the Philippines. They’re talking among the cluttered back alleys of Bangkok and the rest of Southeast Asia. Friends are chatting up friends on the Internet, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Down in Old Mexico, on Golpe a Golpe the daytime sports show, legendary boxer Juan Manuel Marquez, a boxing analyst, scratches his head in utter disbelief. Months earlier, on YouTube a reporter asked him about the fight. “Is a joke,” he said, signing his autograph on large crimson boxing gloves for adoring fans, and then scooting away to the seclusion of a nearby hotel.
Now the fight that wasn’t supposed to happen is no longer a joke. It’s a go, and JMM is furious. “I want to rematch Floyd Mayweather,” he says. “But now this MMA guy, this Irish guy is in the FREAKING way.”
Somewhere in a remote, out of the way East Los Angeles bar, Oscar De La Hoya suppresses the sudden urge to scream. He’s down in the dumps agonizing (and rightly so) over the Mayweather fight upstaging his own mega fight a few weeks later between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. It’s plain to see why he’s guzzling drinks one after another.
At Oscar’s side, his partner, the legendary, top ten pound 4 pound fighter, Bernard, ‘Show me the money’ Hopkins drinks a glass of Cranberry juice. He’s dazed, bewildered, stressed out. In an almost catatonic state, immersed in an unhealthy, bleary-eyed stupor, he wonders WTF happened. How did he get knocked out of the ring by the Common Man turned Crusher –not that fake Russian guy, but the real Crusher, the Long Island, home grown, construction worker, Joe Smith Jr.
Over the past few years many ex-hard core boxing fans have turned away from the sport. Many have abandoned altogether the boxing they once loved. Too many mismatches, too many fixed fights, and corruption involving paid-off judges was enough to kill their interest. Lawyer generated petitions were sent to sanctioning bodies throughout the world denouncing the corruption. They have gone unanswered.
_Fight Night Scenario_
On fight night here is a likely scenario. Money May will be gliding, sidestepping, running, shoulder rolling with his back against the ropes. He will move like a ballet dancer out to the center of the ring at long range again, firing pot shots at McGregor, on his way to a comfortable unanimous decision victory over twelve dull rounds of boxing.
As for McGregor, the hard scrabbled, crushed eared, two-fisted MMA dynamo, it’s not a reach to imagine him winging blows from impossible angles but swatting air. To many, the match portends this incendiary outcome. To many, the fight has the same appeal as fetid gas passed from the leaking bowels of a languid gunmetal Asian buffalo.
Alas, dear reader, this is why the BIG FIGHT becomes nothing but a colossal mismatch.
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