Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather exists in a rare space in the combat sports world in that it’s a fight that almost everyone is going to watch and that is sure to produce massive amounts of fan interest and hype, while at the same time being very likely widely derided by analysts and pundits in both boxing and MMA. It’s the superfight that everyone will watch, despite the very real likelihood that it provides little of sporting value.
It’s also very likely to overshadow a lot of other, more meaningfully competitive, boxing matches over the next several months. That seems to be veteran boxing commentator Jim Lampley’s principal takeaway as he spoke to Fight Hub TV ahead of Kovalev vs. Ward 2.
“Well, the promoters of the Mayweather/McGregor 'event' obviously saw the possibility of taking a bite out of this particular HBO PPV and another HBO PPV that takes place September 16,” Lampley responded when asked about Mayweather vs. McGregor overshadowing Ward vs. Kovalev. “And that's the only reason that they would have chosen a totally counter-intuitive PPV date like August 26th. If you look at the history of PPV and you're looking for a date that previously would not have been chosen for PPV, the last weekend of the summer, prior to Labor Day is a perfect example of something that nobody would ever choose, unless they had some specific reason to do so.
“So, the only reason that the Mayweather/McGregor event is taking place on August 26 is because Kovalev/Ward was this weekend and even moreso because Gennady Golovkin is fighting Canelo Alvarez on September 16, on HBO PPV. And the people who are involved in Mayweather vs. McGregor wanted to blunt that, hurt it, hurt the buyrate. I think by choosing that path, they've hurt the buyrate for both events. Because, the buyrate for Mayweather/McGregor would be much larger if it were taking place in November, and the buyrate for Canelo vs. Golovkin obviously would be larger if Mayweather vs. McGregor weren't taking place on August 26th.
“I call it Riggs/King,” Lampley continued, referring to the infamous ‘Battle of the Sexes’ tennis match, “because that's really what it is. It's a hybrid event, something of a freak show, and you need to watch it or you think you need to watch it, because your neighbor or all your friends on social media are going to watch it, to see this odd confrontation between a guy from MMA and a boxer. People who do two different things, and they're going to box, in a boxing ring, with boxing rules. So, does anybody really believe they don't know who's going to win?”
It’s not just that Mayweather vs. McGregor is overshadowing other fights, however. Lampley also made his case as to just how noncompetitive he thinks the fight between the two men will be.
“Let me tell you something, CompuBox - which I very much trust and appreciate as an analytical tool - tracked 10 Conor Mcgregor fights,” Lampley said. “And I looked last night at the numbers from what they did. And I didn't realize this, because I don't watch MMA, he's not an attacker, he's a counter-puncher. He's a guy who stands back, waits for the opponent to come to him, and tries to knock him out with one big shot.
“You know what Floyd Mayweather does against counter-punchers? He watches them, and he waits for them to make a move on him, because he's not going to bother to play into their hands by walking in toward them and giving them opportunities. Here's another thing: in the 10 events that CompuBox tracked Conor McGregor spent 21 minutes on his feet. He's gonna spend 36 minutes on his feet in one fight against Floyd Mayweather. That's a whole new experience. And by the way, Conor McGregor - in those fights tracked by CompuBox - landed about... or excuse me, threw about 42 strikes per round. That means that, not only is he a counter-puncher, but that he's a relatively slow paced counter-puncher.
“The only two fighters that ever gave Floyd Mayweather any difficulty over long stretches of time were Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana,” Lampley continued. “Two pure brawlers, with great physical strength, who pushed Floyd into the ropes and threw 75 or 80 punches a round, trying to land something. That does not describe Conor McGregor. So, this is a mismatch in even more ways than I thought was originally the case.”
For fans that already feel like McGregor doesn’t have a shot against Mayweather, Lampley’s analysis helps confirm that notion. But, for the other side, who feels that McGregor has a real shot at beating Mayweather, it may be that no amount of breakdowns or by-the-numbers looks are going to change their minds.