One sentence summary
Phil: The popular Irish practitioner of homosexual skinhead wrestling laces up the gloves against boxing's most mercenary son.
David: Prizefighting scrapes the bottom of the world’s last dirty barrel to deliver its ultimate prize.
Record: Floyd Mayweather 49-0 Conor McGregor 0-0 (Editor’s Note: lol)
Odds: Floyd Mayweather -450 Conor McGregor +325
History / Introduction to Both Fighters
Phil: Floyd Mayweather is a woman-beating illiterate who proclaims himself the best boxer ever. This is true if (and only if) it is taken as fact that boxing is an entirely commercial undertaking, where brain damage is traded for cash and success is measured in the ratio. With unappealing fights and little genuine charisma with which to build a brand, Mayweather has elevated bout selection to an art form, and combines a true genius in the ring with an undeniably greater genius for picking opponents at just the right moment. So, if you quantify boxing as being a distant relative of hedge fund or stock management, then Floyd Mayweather is your rightful personal GOAT, and also it may be time to ask yourself whether you are a trading algorithm...? Because that is an awful and depressing way of looking at fights.
David: Are you calling Mayweather a synthetic CDO? You’re talking to an illiterate here, so let’s slow down on hedge fund analogies. Also, you forgot the part where Mayweather beats women in front of children and then threatens the children protecting the women with his very own pocket Suge. To be fair, it’s hard to pretend we’re complicit. Maybe not you and me specifically. You’re legitimately a good guy. I know how you’ve personally handed over cash collected from Ed Norton stunt double fees to eradicate homelessness. I’m a good guy, I think, browser history notwithstanding. But as viewers, paid observers, and fight fans, we do the thing all sports fans do: judge athletes on a performative scale rather than a moral one. So here we are, helping celebrate this madness.
Phil: Conor McGregor is a promising young athlete from Ireland with the proverbial "gift of the gab". Despite being 0-0 in the boxing ring and not looking particularly good in sparring footage, McGregor does have a trick up his sleeve. He has competed (and reportedly done well) in Mixed Martial Arts, a hybrid combat sport which combines disparate elements of wrestling, nu metal and capoeira into an uncouth yet broadly effective whole. This should grant him some level of comfort with striking, provided that he can battle against a natural instinct to utilize side check kicks and eye pokes.
David: McGregor is just your normal hard working, humble white guy from Ireland who wears mink coats in July, rocks out with his cock out, and publicly demands the cock he likes to put on display be commandeered by Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey. At the same time, of course. You can see why athletic commissioner Bob Bennett thinks McGregor is a “young warrior.” Probably because Bob checked out his junk. The 29 year old Irishman has already dominated mixed martial arts (not boxing), becoming an all time mixed martial arts great after winning the belt two years ago, losing to a Mike Tyson sized Nate Diaz, and then barely avenging that loss to an even bigger Nate Diaz, who probably walks around at post-career Serraweight. He won another title against some guy who hasn’t won a fight since. This is epic by any measure of the word.
What are the stakes?
Phil: God help us if McGregor somehow wins. On the one hand, there'll be the fleeting joy of watching boxing's great stock picker get wiped out on his safest, surest trade. On the other, every combat sports comment section will simply have to be closed, forever. There'll be a storm of spinal injuries in the sports media, as every hack who bleated out a weak, equivocating "well you never know what could happen and stats don't mean anything when the bell rings and McGregor is such a special guy" take attempts to type fast enough to catch the subsequent tsunami of page views while simultaneously and voraciously sucking his own dick.
David: The crazy thing is that McGregor doesn’t even have to win in order for Skip Bayless to declare boxing dead as fried chicken. McGregor just has to not get killed. Even a maiming won’t stop the flood of shit takes. This is the endgame. Literal Nazis won’t need the Detroit Red Wings logo. They can just stand outside some other Robert E. Lee statue and hold up banners of McGregor’s weird heart eating gorilla tattoo. But only with matching tighty-whities. The irony of genetic superiority shouldn’t stop at Chris Cantwell’s tears. Nor should MMA be commemorated only by Billy Rush Nutrition Plan statues. Harold Howard deserves his own porcelain frame inside UFC studios too. With a plaque reading “if you’re coming on, then come on!”
Where do they want it?
Phil: In McGregor's quest to win a moral victory (and if we consider ourselves to be ethical beings, then aren't these really the only ones that matter?) the most important criteria for success is that he manages to pull off a sufficient number of taunts. Mayweather is a living computer, so it is vital that McGregor does not allow him to adapt, and uses as many varieties as possible. I have illustrated some potential examples:
- Scary bear. Grraarrrr! The taunter raises his hands, like an ursine terror attempting to scare his opponent away from a delicious honeypot. This indicates that the taunter is, in fact, far larger and more mighty than his small and weak opponent. Potential counters include bravely shouting: "I'm not scared of you, stupid bear!"
- Here's my chin. The taunter leans forward, bringing his face towards the opponent, then nods and gestures towards it. This is something of a favourite of McGregor.
- Whirly arm. The taunter raises his fist, and spins it around in a circle, announcing to all that he is charging up a punch, and that if the opponent knows what's good for him he should step away.
- Hands behind the back. There are many who feel that this will be the cornerstone of McGregor's strategy. It has the businesslike air which many feel is appropriate for the "money" fight.
David: Damnit, Phil. I guess I’ll add to this list.
- Cleverly designed sponsors from startups that don’t actually exist but that Mayweather would hate. So for example, a C.J. Watson logo right on McGregor’s crotch would suffice. If he’s lucky enough to catch Mayweather, Conor could barbarically point at his nuts, offering the immediate geography between the two copious spittle in the process, causing Mayweather to snap, and engage in a brawl for the first time ever (inside the ring I mean).
- Bitcoin stance. Since there are writers out there who believe McGregor is an example of disruptive innovation, we gotta give them credit where credit’s due if McGregor pulls off the impossible. I didn’t get a chance to storyboard how this might look but I’d imagine it’d be something like - McGregor, sensing the rage and guilt Floyd has bottled up that create inadequate coping strategies behind closed but expensive doors, lulls Mayweather into the corner so that McGregor’s cornermen can pull their fighter’s arms in synchronized punching motions for disruptively innovative peer-to-peer pressure.
- Race card stance (also called the Al Jolson technique). Similar to the demon/angel Dave Chappelle skit. McGregor will photoshop a picture of Richard Spencer on his right hand, and Wesley Snipes (Passenger 57 era) on his left. Conor can even use the Mother Jones headline for it. If Floyd can be compelled to punch a two dimensional Nazi (the dapperer the photoshop the better), he has a real psychological edge here that can’t be dismissed out of hand.
- Googly eyes. They’re out there. Listen, Conor tried the Family Guy Tony Robbins swallow stance at the weigh ins. It didn’t work. If he can coordinate googly eyes with googly arms, the raw optical illusion created from such eccentric movement could open up some real opportunities for Conor. Not just ironic ones. If McGregor can postpone Mayweather’s supernatural check left hook by even just half a second...then in conjunction with Floyd’s slowed fast twitch muscle fibers...itself in conjunction with muscle memory that will be withered bad enough for Floyd to forget enough to get hit by a fighter without a professional boxing record...considered in the context of Mayweather’s other weapons and ignoring the things McGregor still needs to learn about boxing fundamentals...then he’s got a shot.
Insights from past fights:
Phil: In the annals of unconventional cross-promotional and cross-sport bouts, there are many legendary clashes: from Shaq vs Sugar Shane Mosley, to Screech's brawl with Horschack from Welcome Back Kotter. I'll take the classic between former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and fat guy Erik "Butterbean" Esch (who also fought Genki Sudo and UFC veteran Rob Broughton in a fight which we re-watched here).
I know, I know. For some, this may seem disrespectful, to Esch, who was an actual boxer with about 70 pro bouts at the time. However, the potential and thrilling dynamic of an old black guy jabbing a white guy to a blah unanimous decision cannot be discounted.
David: I go back to Mayweather vs. the Big Show. The Big Show got down on his knees, presumably to make fun of his performance in the Falicia Blakely Story. When that happened, Mayweather cracked him right across the nose. Granted, the Big Show’s a massive target. But for all the talk about “McGregor needs to goad Mayweather into a brawl/disruptive innovation/MMA puncher’s chance”, does he really? Am I supposed to believe that McGregor is more equipped to deal with a straight up brawl than Mayweather? I don’t buy it. He got pretty dirty against Diego Corrales. Even his bout against Oscar De La Hoya was dirtier than McGregor’s brawling with Diaz by comparison.
Phil: Mayweather has ensured that McGregor will be financially disincentivize from his more exotic techniques. Perhaps this is misdirection. Perhaps we're looking at the wrong fighter.
I suggest the following: a few rounds deep, the fight has gone the way that most think it will. Then, Mayweather feints a right hand, and McGregor dips his head, and suddenly, impossibly, Mayweather's left foot is leaving the mat. He rises into the air. A picture-perfect flying knee connects with McGregor's jaw, sprawling the Irishman flat.
People shriek, and cheer, and cry. Fights break out. Mayweather is disqualified... but his risk-averse career has been nothing but the setup for this singular moment, when he can prove that he is not just the ruler of boxing, but of fighting itself. He screams "Combat sports is my house! Where's Hakuho at? BRING ME HAKUHO."
MMA is fatally discredited. Hidden Mayweather subsidiaries have been quietly priming WME|IMG representatives for a sale. They cash McGregor bets, lunge in for the kill. Ultimate Fighter Championship collapses in a welter of flailing limbs and debt buybacks. Years later, you can walk into a Vegas gym and find a bloated, red-faced boxercise instructor who tells mournful tales of how he used to be one of the most powerful promoters in the world.
David: You’re overthinking this. Floyd is on the cusp of breaking Rocky Marciano’s record. People have actually called into question whether or not Floyd “deserves” to break Rocky’s record. Check out the punch stats when the fight is over. Focus on punches landed. Round 1: 76. Round 2: 25. Round 3: 96. Round 4: 27. Round 5: 24. Round 6: 26. Round 7: 6. Boom. Mayweather paints his final masterpiece by punctuating history with knuckles and blood.
Phil: A young, hungry boxer ranked in the top 30-ish (conservative estimate) would knock McGregor out. Mayweather is neither young nor terribly hungry, and at this stage, his risk aversion likely can't be consciously switched off. The big scary weight of the downside will loom over him whenever he thinks of doing something to put McGregor away, so he probably won't? Floyd Mayweather by unanimous decision.
David: Mayweather didn’t even look like he was at Roper-weight. A lot of people have tried to extrapolate a lot of narratives out of this fight. Including me I guess. But with all due respect to Robin Black (whose work I respect and enjoy), sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Not a Polynesian navigator. I won’t be surprised if Conor looks comfortable enough to win future boxing matches. I won’t be surprised if Floyd doesn’t knock him out. I will be surprised if our irony soaked preview blows up in our faces. Floyd Mayweather by Decision.