By: Sean Crose
Manny Pacquiao – or someone working for Manny Pacquiao – called out Conor McGregor on Pac Man’s Twitter page Thursday. Why? The answer’s pretty simple. McGregor comes across to an accomplished boxer like a cross between a punching bag and an ATM machine. With millions upon millions of dollars to be “earned,” why wouldn’t an over the hill great allow himself to be demeaned by a loud mouthed European and his creepily devoted fan base? All McGregor has to do is sign on the dotted line, the reasoning goes, and the man becomes target practice for your fists. Sure, you may have to break through that goofy John L Sullivan stance he has, but once that’s over and done with, it’s pinata time.
New flash, gang: this sort of thing, while annoying and harmless on the surface, can be very dangerous. McGregor does not (repeat, not) seem like a nice guy – in fact, he’s beloved for pretty much behaving like an ass – but boxing is a dangerous as hell sport, perhaps even more dangerous than mixed martial arts, and no one deserves to be beaten senseless for an easy paycheck. Not even McGregor. Besides, McGregor’s taken two beatdowns as it is in these past two years (from Floyd Mayweather and from UFC star Nate Diaz, respectively) and it still hasn’t made him act like any more of a sportsman (for the record, the Irishman may be a hell of a guy – but he’s a clown in public).
What’s the upside, a fan might ask, of watching McGregor face an aging legend not named Mayweather in the ring anyway? The chance to see McGregor win? Who the hell cares if he wipes out an ancient Oscar De La Hoya (who has also called him out) or a way over the hill Manny Pacquiao? Would anyone believe McGregor if he then said he “conquered” the world of boxing after besting such men? His frat boy cult following might, but they’re apt to believe anything he tells them. Everyone else would simply roll their eyes. And what would happen if McGregor were to once again lose in the ring, which he well might against any boxer of note?
One could only imagine the hit McGregor’s reputation would take if he lost to, say, De La Hoya. The man known as “The Golden Boy” is now forty-four years of age. He hasn’t fought since 2009 and he was beaten so savagely by Manny Pacquiao in his last bout that he literally had to quit on his stool. Throw in a reputation for less than sober living on De La Hoya’s part and you’ve got McGregor looking like the butt of a very bad joke if his boxing record becomes 0-2. And let’s not even get started on McGregor losing to Pacquiao. The Filipino senator is dwarfed by the much bigger McGreogor. He’s also looked so diminished in the ring recently that many, if not most, boxing fans would breath a sigh of relief is the guy just retired.
What exactly would it look like if that version of the fighter known as Pac-Man buzz sawed his way through the UFC star? It might mean a few more big paydays for Pacquiao, but it also might make it difficult for McGregor to save face. Then again, this clearly isn’t a man who is easily humbled, whether he should be or not. Which may be why boxers love to call him out. Sure, McGregor may boast to world of having rejected their “pathetic” overtures, but he also might say yes. There’s a lot of money in boxing, after all. What’s more, there’s been a lot of easy money to be made for certain fighters who have earned reputations for liking to take on soft touches (Adonis Stevenson, and – to some degree – Danny Garcia come to mind). Perhaps McGregor Mania is simply symbolic of a dying era of low risk, high reward nonsense bouts.
Not that McGregor hasn’t proven to be a willing participant. The man appears to see himself as a pseudo deity. McGregor won’t be rising from the dead, though, which is another reason why he, and the fighters who wish to cash in by punching his lights out in a ring, might want to tread lightly.
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