When talks of a potential boxing superfight between UFC featherweight champ Conor McGregor and boxing great Floyd Mayweather first surfaced, most MMA media members dismissed the matter as nothing more than gossip and clickbait. But with things gaining momentum and even a set date (September 17th) in the rumor mill, perhaps it’s time we started taking this seriously.
Mayweather and McGregor have both commented on the fight and seem interested – not surprising, really, when you consider the bout would most likely be the biggest in combat sports history and could pull in upwards of $500 million in revenue (as was the case when Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao a year ago).
“If I do fight, it’s only against Conor McGregor. That’s gonna be my only fight and not against nobody else because this matchup is just so intriguing,” Mayweather said in an interview earlier this month. “You have a fighter against an MMA fighter, one of the best MMA fighters to do combat and stand up and do it. He’s a strong fighter and when I look at him fight he’s a little faster than I thought he was so if the fight happens I can’t overlook the guy. I’m pretty sure – if we make the fight happen – I’m pretty sure he’s gonna push me to the limit.”
Mayweather added that he expects no less than $100 million to face McGregor, and the Irish MMA star expects to be paid equally.
“I hear the boy talking,” McGregor said. “The leak came out and it was him that leaked the rumor. It said he gets 100 million (dollars) and I get seven million… that’s a pay-cut to me. I don’t take pay-cuts. I thought boxing was where the money was at. The seven million is absolutely laughable. He’s talking 100 million, I’m also talking 100 million. I’m 27 years of age and I’m just about halfway through a $100 million contract. At 27 years of age, Floyd Mayweather was on Oscar de la Hoya’s undercard, so compare that.”
To box, or not to box?
With big money being a guaranteed thing should McGregor and Mayweather face one another, the only uncertainty that truly matters is what nature of contest the bout would/will be. McGregor has already stated his willingness to face Mayweather in a boxing contest, but most industry pros on both the boxing side and MMA side would say this would be an unwise move for Conor – assuming the Irishman cares as much about victory as he does about money.
Given Mayweather’s penchant for taking complete control of his career, it is highly unlikely the undefeated boxer would consider facing McGregor in an MMA bout, and so some form of modified rules fight could be the best course of action.
The notion of a modified rules combat sports event might seem unusual to modern day fans, but those with a wider knowledge will recall such a contest took place once before when African-American boxing legend Muhammad Ali fought Japanese freestyle fighter and pro wrestler Antonio Inoki back in 1976. Of course, fans who know about that fight will also know just how terrible it was, but that fact was thanks to a particularly ridiculous set of rules.
With the right modification of the rules (upper-body kicks allowed, for example), McGregor vs. Mayweather all of a sudden starts to seem like it could be at least a little bit competitive – even entertaining.
Back to reality
The fact of the matter remains, though, that McGregor is currently under contract with the UFC – MMA’s top promotion who famously do not co-promote or allow their athletes to take on big-time combat sports challenges outside of their Octagon. But, then again, if the right amount of money came along then even an exclusive entity such as the UFC could be tempted to throw their co-promoting principles to one side and join forces with Mayweather Promotions.
Members of the MMA world like to brag about how crazy the sport is, and things seem to get crazier every year. With that in mind, don’t rule out McGregor vs. Mayweather just yet.