By: Sean Crose
“Now it comes down to the two competitors.”
So said Floyd Mayweather during Wednesday’s final press conference to promote his novelty boxing match with mma star Conor McGregor, which will go down Saturday night in Las Vegas. “That’s what it’s really about,” he added, “the best fighting the best.” Mayweather, dressed in a suit and sunglasses, was rather lowkey during what was actually a lowkey event (there auditorium was only partially filled – a great surprise). Indeed, even McGregor was somewhat subdued – for McGregor.
Photo Credit: USA Today
“I will break this old man,” the Irishman proclaimed, “I don’t see him lasting two rounds.” McGregor then went on to declare that Mayweather “messed up with them eight ounce gloves,” a reference to the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s unprofessional decision to allow eight ounce gloves to be used in Saturday’s bout, per Mayweather’s request. “I’m going to outbox his man at his own game,” the UFC star continued, “I’m gonna fuck this boy up.”
Although his words were sharp, the effect wasn’t the same for McGregor without his legion of screaming fans in attendance. Still, it was obvious the man has incredible self belief and sees himself as a rarity in the field of combat sports. “He’s not a quarter of the man I am,” he said of Mayweather, adding later that “ I think he has a big time gambling problem,” in response to a statement from someone in the media that Mayweather is betting heavily on himself this weekend.
Mayweather, on the other hand, completely switched gears from this summer’s tacky and loud international press tour to promote the bout. After thanking God and those who support him (including, of course, boxing guru Al Haymon), Mayweather actually moved on to complimenting McGregor. “Conor McGregor is like myself,” he said. “In the octagon he’s undefeated standing up.” He also claimed that “he’s a hell of a fighter,” adding that “ It’s not going to be an easy fight. It’s going to be blood sweat and tears Saturday.” Mayweather took note, though, of McGregor and others claiming that he wasn’t taking the bout seriously. “For you guys to think that Saturday I’m not taking it serious…,” he said, momentarily letting his words trail off.
The 49-0 legendary fighter had some pointed words, for his opponent as well. “He’s gonna bring his best,” Mayweather said of the Irishman, “and it’s not gonna be easy, Connor, it’s not gonna be easy.” The undefeated superstar went on to note his own ability to take a punch. “One thing about me,” he said, “I got a granite chin.” He then offered McGregor some final parting words. “The same way you give it,” Mayweather claimed, “you’ve got to be willing to take it. Remember this.”
Although the entire affair was subdued, there were indeed moments of ridiculousness. WBC honcho Mauricio Sulaiman Jr, for instance, announced to the world that a completely gaudy and undoubtedly expensive belt will be bestowed upon the winner of the fight. Why? Why knows. Also worth noting was the fact that McGregor showed up extremely late, so late that the relatively small and professional crowd waited in virtual silence for a while for the man to arrive. McGregor offered no apologies, however, opting instead to get into a foul mouthed jawing session with someone in attendance.
Yet there seemed to be a kind of mutual respect shown between the two men at the end of their protracted staredown (was that a short bow McGregor gave to his opponent?). Hey, top athletes can certainly show respect to one another. So can very rich ones.