By Gleb Kuzin
The most expensive prize fight since Mayweather-Pacquiao is an exhibition match that will make no difference.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine a NASCAR driver is transitioning to Formula One after doing a series of tests in an old F3 car. Would they be competitive against Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel? Now, picture the India National Cricket Team coming to the US to play against the Chicago Cubs in baseball. Now that you have those images in your head, let’s do it one more time. The biggest superstar in MMA, Conor McGregor, is set to fight the most most skilled boxer of our generation, Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
It is very rare to see top athletes even attempt to transition into different sports, let alone succeed in these endeavors. James Toney, one of boxing’s all-time most notable talents, took a crack at the MMA cage nearly 7 years ago. The humiliating affair was barely a fight. Racing is perhaps is the only sport in which professional competitors have risen to the top under different rulesets, but they have still needed time to adapt their driving to match to their new challenges. If Conor McGregor wants to succeed against Floyd Mayweather, he will have to do more than any previous athlete that has attempted this path.
Mayweather-McGregor doesn’t just rewrite the rules of the Exhibition Match, it totally shatters them. There are many varieties of exhibition matches: they can be played by retired superstars to give fans another chance to see their idols in action, All-Stars games showcase an entire league’s roster of stars in one event that doesn’t impact team rankings, and some sports teams conduct off-season matches to keep players active and to experiment with new rosters and strategies. But there is one common denominator: participants typically don’t do them for money.
Charity is the main reason exhibition matches are conducted. Superstars of the past help to build public attention to a problem and invite spectators to join them in combating it. Whether it be money to fight hunger, help war refugees, or to build a better future for needy children. What problem exactly are Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor trying to bring to our attention?
The urgent need of the new hybrid supercar? Well, they might not save any kids from hungry deaths in a war-torn country, but at least they produce less CO2 than your regular supercar. In a year where boxing’s best have consistently stepped into the ring with each other to unify titles, boxing is in no need of salvation.
Conor McGregor has changed the face of MMA outside and within. He brought in new fans and raised the popularity of the sport to a new level. In the cage he moved the fighting style from the ground to an upright position. Today, half of the UFC champions are either former boxers or they have brought a boxing mindset into their game. To name a few: current Heavyweight champion is a former Golden Gloves champion, the current bantamweight champion dominated his rivals with his boxing: upper body defence, good timing on counter-punches and strict gameplan; and most recently, newly crowned featherweight champion Max Holloway swept Jose Aldo using his sweet feints, footwork, and counter-punches.
Boxing is starting to play a bigger part in MMA, but what can MMA contribute to the sport of boxing? November 5th of 1988 changed the history of martial arts when american kickboxer Rick Roufus fought Changpuek Kiatsongrit. That night the Thai fighter introduced the western world to the art of Muay Thai defeating Roufus via 4th round TKO. That spectacle changed the landscape of martial arts all around the world and what makes it a greater case, showcased the dominance of one sport over the other under a similar ruleset. Something, that is not possible in our current case.
To sum this whole comedy up:
- Nobody misses Floyd Mayweather. Boxing has had one of it’s best years and two weeks after this exhibition match, we’ll see the best fight in boxing when Canelo faces Gennady Golovkin.
- Boxing has nothing to prove. Everyone understands that Conor will be no match to Floyd unless the latter decides to put on another Maidana show (aka uses every dirty trick in the book) and luring everyone to buy a rematch. It does seem very unlikely since Conor McGregor is going to fall dead of exhaustion way before the final bell.
- This is not a charity. Neither fighter advocates for/against an important social topic. Instead they’re going to split the loot. One participant is going to take his harem over to Qatar to watch the World Cup, the other is going to send his russian bestie over to Kavkaz so he can learn some wrestling.
Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are robbing those in need of a brighter future. Instead of buying the PPV, donate your money for a good cause. Make a difference. Prove your stance with actions.