Floyd Mayweather Jr., for all his accrued trespasses, is — 21 months removed from his last “fight” in the most qualified sense — still the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. He has a perfect record over a 21-year career, against everyone you could imagine. Conor McGregor, for all his loud antics and bad tattoos, is the pound-for-pound (technically second-) best UFC fighter. That would be on account of regularly beating the best, often in the time it takes your illegal stream to buffer. Remember that EA Sports UFC 2 commercial? TERT-TEEN seconds. That’s his fastest knockout. (Mike Tyson beat McGregor by five seconds which, is this guy still, you know, with us?)
Because these are the two names that jump to mind when you think about people currently active in pugilism (that’s the word people educated about this sort of thing use instead of “fighting”), it makes sense that we’d hope, pray, but mostly joke about some sort of Marvel vs. Capcom crossover fight. Wouldn’t that be cool? But it wasn’t something that was supposed to materialize. And there wasn’t any reason to believe it would, what with questions of purse size, and whether the UFC would grant McGregor permission to come out to play.
But it did. It’s happening. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fighting the guy that I cannot believe we (well, y’all) briefly referred to as the “Irish Ali.” (The real Ali himself was part Irish, and also how dare you.) Because money. The promotional campaign trail begins now, and as my colleague Sam Schube notes, McGregor is already winning:
On August 26 those of us with even a passing interest in watching people pummel each other for sport will have our most [hits blunt, toggles game settings] questions answered. For real. In real life. Finally. But will it be any good?
For starters, DID YOU SEE WHAT MCGREGOR DID TO EDDIE ALVAREZ?
While Mayweather has been retired since 2015, McGregor fought last November and won a lightweight title to go alongside his featherweight belt. He did so by batting your mans Eddie Alvarez around like a speedbag.
McGregor is known for his striking power. The devastating, left-handed sledgehammers he plants on his victims look exceptionally good when cut with dubstep remixes of Gregorian monk music on YouTube. He’s probably better at boxing that any other UFC fighter. But he narrowly boxed his way out of a rematch with Nate Diaz in UFC 202, making that comparative difference in skill not mean a whole lot of anything, which doesn’t bode well for boxing against, you know, an actual boxer.
OK, but isn’t McGregor younger than Mayweather? And taller?
Whenever Mayweather’s exact peak was, he’s past it by some distance at 40 years old. At 28, McGregor might not have reached his yet. Considering the nature of the cruel physical transactions that entails, this is an advantage for McGregor. His reach is two inches longer than Mayweather’s. Put money on those things if you feel so inclined; I look forward to taking all of it, and your shoes too. Sometimes, as an inside joke with God, I watch this instead of fulfilling my worldly obligations:
Mayweather boxes. With a graceful, patient, supremely annoying shoulder-roll defense that’s made people with names like Maidana, Pacquiao, and Canelo empty out whole combinations and hit nothing but air. He’s also undefeated in 49 matches, and a good portion of those lasted a full 12 rounds. If we’re counting McGregor’s 24 — which, again, were not boxing matches — the longest one he’s been in was his second bout against Nate Diaz, and that lasted five rounds.
Soooo … Mayweather’s going to win for sure then?
I mean. Things can always go awry.
Mayweather has had a lot of trouble with southpaws. McGregor is one. But Mayweather eventually won those fights and also — which, again, it’s wild that I have to keep saying this — McGregor. Is Not. A boxer. UFC and boxing are so different in so many specific ways — in boxing there’s no leg kicks; in UFC you use four-ounce gloves — that they’ve got practically nothing to do with one another. The pace is different, the footwork is different, the athletes are different.
McGregor-Mayweather is going to be like a sprinter running a distance medley relay. Or maybe like Michael Jordan’s first turn in the outfield, but for the Chicago White Sox instead of the Barons. Or like if Kevin Love suited up for the Browns at quarterback. Or like if Lil B made it onto the Warriors’ 15-man roster for a preseason game.
But then again, wouldn’t you pay $100 to see all of those things? I’d at least find a friend who would.