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The 39 Parts of Being a Professional Boxer, Ranked From Best to Worst

As Conor McGregor learned against Floyd Mayweather, being a boxer has its pros and cons. From getting ripped to getting clocked in the face, here is a list that covers all the parts of being a pugilist.

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Saturday evening, Conor McGregor, who was not a professional boxer, fought Floyd Mayweather, potentially one of the best professional boxers of all time, in a real, actual, literal professional boxing match. There were many opinions to have about the event afterward (mine was mostly that I thought the entire thing was dumb and stupid and at least a little bit gross, but also there was a zero percent chance that I was going to miss it because I am an idiot). But the most interesting part of the spectacle was the idea of, very simply, dropping a non-boxer into the boxing world.

It’s such an easy thing to grab ahold of and be captivated by—the thought that a person who is not a thing could suddenly, basically overnight, become that thing. In the days, weeks, and months leading up to the fight, it became easier and easier to picture myself in Conor’s shoes (what with me also not being the thing that he wasn’t). We all got to watch him hold training sessions; stir the prefight fervor during the media tour; conduct interviews from the locker room the night of the fight during the undercard matches; walk out to the ring; wear boxing shoes and boxing gloves; and on and on. It was fascinating, really, and even as you are reading this, nearly two full days later, I am still thinking about all of those parts and all of those pieces. Because, beyond the gravity of Conor’s personality, that’s really what was at the center of this entire disaster: Allowing yourself, even for just a moment, to imagine being a professional boxer.

These are all of the parts of being a boxer, ranked in descending order. I marked them down during the lead-up to the fight, and then during the fight itself, and then after the fight.

  1. All of the muscles you get from training and eating right (assuming you’re training and eating right).
  2. Taking pictures with your shirt off, showing off all the muscles you’ve gotten from training and eating right. (This is the no. 1 picture from all of the Mayweather-McGregor prefight events. It’s incredible, and exactly the kind of thing I would do if I had any of the parts in place to do such a thing.)
  3. All of the money you make from a fight (assuming you’re getting paid a lot of money to fight, which, to the best of my understanding, most people don’t).
  4. The prefight walkout.
  5. Choosing the perfect song for the prefight walkout. This is a far more delicate process than most people assume. It has to be a song that has an immediately powerful opening, then falls back a little, then roars a tiny amount and stays strong through at least the first verse and the chorus. It also has to be a song that fits your whole persona and essence. It also has to be a song that hasn’t been used too much already. You also have to time it perfectly so that you emerge from the tunnel right at the exact perfect moment. (Unfortunately, I missed hearing the entrance music of either McGregor or Mayweather because I was arguing with someone about what their walkout songs were going to be.) Part of the reason that Creed was such a phenomenal movie was that it nailed all of these things in the walkout scene for the final fight, all the way down to Adonis, a sweetheart of a soul who could be deadly, stepping out just as Tupac howled, “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me,” and Ricky Conlan, the champ who couldn’t be bothered to consider Adonis a real contender, stepping out as Konan sniped, “Tell ‘em don’t waste my time” over and over again.)
  6. Choosing your outfit for the prefight walkout. (I knew that any tiny chance that Conor had at pulling an upset over Mayweather was gone when Conor walked out to the ring wearing nothing spectacular and Mayweather walked out wearing one of those masks you wear to rob a convenience store.)
  7. Choosing your shenanigans for the prefight walkout (like that time Prince Naseem Hamed came to the ring ON A FLYING CARPET, which remains the single greatest sports thing I have ever seen in my life).
  8. The way the crowd cheers for you if you knock your opponent out.
  9. The way the crowd cheers for you if you knock your opponent down. (I still can’t believe the ref didn’t let Conor get dropped. We were soooooooo close. It’d have been bedlam in the arena if that had happened.)
  10. The way the crowd cheers for you if you get up after you’ve been knocked down.
  11. The thing where you test the elasticity of the ropes in the ring by leaning against them and bouncing off them before the fight.
  12. Choosing your shorts for the actual fight. (Mayweather’s Hublot shorts were tops.)
  13. Cheat days during your training leading up to the fight.
  14. Your episode of 24/7 (assuming the fight is going to be shown on HBO).
  15. The media tour before the fight where you and the other fighter say mean things about each other on a stage where you know no real fighting is going to occur. (McGregor made it all of one stop on the press circuit before he said his first racist thing, which was exactly how long most people assumed it would take.)
  16. Punching your opponent square in the jaw.
  17. Dodging a punch from your opponent. (The main thing I learned from the Mayweather-McGregor fight was that you’re supposed to dodge punches by moving as little as possible so that you can counterpunch quickly, which is the opposite of how I’ve always chosen to handle that situation.)
  18. Punching your opponent square in the body.
  19. Punching your opponent in the ear.
  20. Getting a haircut right before the fight. (I am a big fan of when a fighter shaves his head before a fight, as Conor did for this one. It just feels more war-ready. It’s like when Ben Wallace would show up to games with his hair braided and everyone would be like, “Oh damn, he’s getting 40 rebounds tonight.”)
  21. Choosing your shoes for the fight. (Neither fighter’s were spectacular.)
  22. Posing for all of the promotional posters and commercials (assuming you’re good at that sort of thing).
  23. The thing where you stand up on the ropes in the corner to celebrate a victory as the referee kneels over your opponent’s corpse. (We got a version of that with Floyd. He didn’t lean as much into it as I was hoping for, though.) (The best post-victory celebration happened in the undercard fight between Gervonta Davis and Francisco Fonseca. Davis knocked Fonseca down, and then after the ref counted Fonseca out, Davis ran over and got on the mat and mimicked Fonseca. It was an extremely petty and classless thing to do. I loved it.)
  24. The postfight interview after a victory. (Floyd Mayweather is so bad at these. He was asked, say, five questions during Saturday night’s. He answered zero of them.)
  25. Reading all of the stories on the internet the day after your victory (since you most definitely can read).
  26. Seeing all of the promotional posters and commercials of you everywhere.
  27. The thing before the fight (or during training) where you walk around after you’ve had your hands taped up but before you’ve put your boxing gloves on.
  28. The thing where they film you lacing up your shoes in the locker room before the fight. (There was a quick shot of Floyd doing this and for some reason it struck me as extremely profound. I don’t know why. It just felt a lot like a warrior carefully sharpening a weapon.)
  29. Punching your opponent below the belt on purpose but pretending like it was an accident. (This didn’t happen, sadly.)
  30. The thing where you and the opponent stand at the center of the ring and the referee goes over the rules one last time.
  31. The thing where you go out after the fight and celebrate your victory in Las Vegas (assuming you won, and assuming your fight was held in Las Vegas).
  32. The thing where your opponent raises his gloves so you can touch gloves before the fight but you decide not to and just turn around and walk away and then the announcers make a big deal of it.
  33. The thing where people come to your gym and film you training in the days right before the fight and you’re doing shit like going through punching drills without looking like you’re trying very hard.
  34. Getting good at jumping rope.
  35. The way the crowd cheers for your opponent if he knocks you down.
  36. The way the crowd cheers for your opponent if he knocks you out.
  37. Actually getting knocked out.
  38. The actual training.
  39. The actual fighting.