By Ivan G. Goldman
The real question when Floyd Mayweather faces Conor McGregor is whether Floyd will knock out his slow-moving target or stay safe and play with him for twelve rounds.
Mayweather has sucked plenty of oxygen and money out of the sport with his measured style and boring scientific approach that’s almost devoid of combination punching. He owes it to boxing fans to pepper this novice with some serious consecutive shots and close it down before the final bell. But he might not see it that way. In fact, he hasn’t done anything like that since he knocked out Victor Ortiz in the fourth round eight bouts and six years ago. And there’s the only mystery — whether he’ll stop sparring and put his outmatched opponent out of his misery.
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today
A sizeable crowd of dreamers believe this is a sound match-up. There are enough of them to keep the odds from dipping to the 18-1 mark, which is where they ought to be. But come on, folks, anyone who visualizes a close fight or a McGregor victory is chasing Alice’s rabbit down into Wonderland. This spectacle is really another form of those reality TV shows whose fans generally fail to note that there’s very little about those shows that’s real. No, I don’t mean the fight is fixed because it isn’t. But who gets the win is no brainteaser.
We’ve heard the argument that McGregor is younger, bigger, and a strong puncher who only needs to get in one good shot to bring a shocking curtain down on Mayweather. And just for the sake of argument we’ll give that theory some credence for a moment and pay only passing attention to the fact that Floyd has demonstrated a solid chin against a long line of punishing punchers — Diego Corrales, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, for example.
Actually, most of McGregor’s attributes sound a lot like those of the formidable Arturo Gatti. And Gatti, who had a better chance than McGregor does, never got in a solid shot.
Okay, the Gatti beatdown was twelve years ago, Floyd is now 40 and rusty and so we’ll pretend that at least theoretically McGregor can stretch him out – even though the truth is he can’t.
For rational analysis we could make a long, long list of towering speed bumps standing in the way of McGregor’s success, but let’s not look at this all night. Let’s choose just three. One, UFC star McGregor has never been in a professional boxing match. Two, his first match will be against one of the greatest fighters we’ve seen in the last couple decades. And Point Number Three? Well, there’s so much to choose from.
But let’s forget about Floyd’s brilliant defense, his fantastic conditioning or any of that other stuff. No, I’ll cite something that’s less controlled and methodical but still utterly striking. I’m talking about that disastrous video we saw of McGregor working out in preparation for the fight – the workout that has been mocked and mimicked by probably every boxer in the world.
Because when a guy swings his body like a drunken penguin backwards across the ring and almost falls down without being touched and thinks that’s a good way to prepare for Mayweather, that guy is going to lose to Mayweather.
Folks who don’t have full understanding of the sport see a fighter in the ring and figure, hey, why not just walk up and punch him? Is that so hard? They don’t understand that a magnificent boxer like Mayweather has spent his entire life making sure that won’t happen.
What we’ll see Saturday night is a kind of carnival act. The barker outside the tent promises a headless lady playing checkers or something and you put down your money, enter and recognize immediately you’ve been oh so scammed. What the heck, you decide, you can take a joke and carnivals can be a lot of fun. But wouldn’t it be nice to see a real show?
Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter, nominated as a Notable Book by the American Library Association, is available online and at better bookstores everywhere.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class (Permanent Press, 2015) is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.