Why Mayweather-McGregor Cannot Hurt Boxing

By Andreas Hale We’re a little over a week removed from the announcement that rocked the combat sports world and there is still debate as to whether the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight on August 26th will “hurt” boxing. And, honestly, the mere thought is ridiculous. Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor can’t do any more damage to boxing than boxing has already done to itself over the years. If you are one of those people who think that this spectacle hurts boxing, then you are overlooking everything from terrible matchmaking and the existence of sanctioning bodies to horrible judging that has marred the sport. This fight absolutely cannot add to that. Nor can it rescue boxing from its own litany of problems. Well, the only way this fight can actually hurt boxing is if McGregor were to knock Mayweather out. Which is a ridiculous idea in itself. But, even then, if McGregor were to pull off the biggest upset in sports history (and I use “sports” loosely considering that this is a freak show, at best), people would say Mayweather took a dive. Still, that would affect Mayweather more than it would affect the entire sport. Because, in the eyes of most boxing fans, Mayweather and boxing are now separate entities. As much as Mayweather has reshaped the approach for many fighters, the fact remains that nothing he does is for the betterment of the sport. Love it or hate it, Mayweather is in business for himself. And Mayweather-McGregor is the perfect example of that. It follows the narrative that Mayweather has kept up since beating Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. Mayweather is in it for the prize and has done very well for himself in that department. He’s mastered the art of business boxing and isn’t necessarily here to compete with the best the sport has to offer. His game plan has been high reward with as low of a risk as possible. Granted, he did face a young Canelo Alvarez when people said he wouldn’t. But don’t think that Mayweather wasn’t smart enough to assess the risk with the reward. But Mayweather has divorced himself from the sport. In a way, he is to boxing what Hulk Hogan has been to pro wrestling. At a certain point, the individual becomes bigger than the sport and no longer has a bearing on its future. He’s an anomaly of sorts that we may never see again. He’s big business with a pristine record. He did his dirty work early in his career, remained undefeated, toppled the biggest star in the sport and put himself in position to cash out at the highest level. It’s a path that won’t be followed by another boxer for quite some time, if ever.

His fight with McGregor is just an extension of his plan and has no bearing on the sport whatsoever. He’ll cash out, as will McGregor. The talking heads on various podcasts and sports networks that never cover combat sports will talk like they know what the hell it is they are speaking about and then never really talk about boxing ever again. That’s how much this fight will affect boxing. It will likely have an affect on the PPV buys for Canelo-GGG because of the close proximity of the two events, but that is about the extent of it. You can blame Mayweather-Pacquiao all you want, but boxing wasn’t being discussed on mainstream sports talk shows very much before or after that fight. With the exception of Max Kellerman on ESPN, there are few you can really get into the nuances of boxing and sound intelligent while doing so. After the show that is Mayweather-McGregor, these sportswriters will go back to covering the NBA and NFL. Boxing will be way off their radar. The same can be said for a majority of the people who will purchase the pay per view. It’s an event, nothing more than that. Meanwhile, boxing has had an excellent 2017 with a bevy of great fights and excellent matchmaking. It has been the kind of year that once again proves that boxing is far from dead. The sour taste of Mayweather-Pacquiao that was left on quite a few after the megafight turned out to be a one-sided contest has since evaporated. But in the middle of boxing’s great year, the announcement of Mayweather-McGregor has become this thing that can undo what boxing has accomplished. It’s simply untrue. It’s like saying that an unexciting Super Bowl will ruin the NFL or the NBA All Star Game hurts the perception of the NBA or the Home Run Derby hurts the MLB. It’s all silly conjecture from a group of people who aren’t fans of the sport to begin with. Ultimately, that’s where a majority of this talk has come from: people who aren’t really boxing fans. It’s drawn the ire of boxing figureheads like Lou DiBella because he knows, just like we all should know, that one fight doesn’t make or break a sport. And when it is a spectacle like Mayweather-McGregor, it has even less bearing on the sport than a world title fight or a clash of the two best pound for pound fighters in the world. Rest assured, boxing will be in the same state it was before and after Mayweather-McGregor, for better or worse. 

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