Wembley hosted two fistic events last weekend. One was a genuine contest between Chris Eubank Jr. and German veteran Arthur Abraham, albeit for a tinpot title (the IBO super-middleweight belt) and the other – well, I’m not quite sure what it was.
Ostensibly it was the fourth and thankfully final leg of a grossly over-hyped media tour to attract TV customers to a so-called fight in Las Vegas on August 26 between the renowned former world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and martial artist Conor McGregor of Ultimate Fighting Championship fame, or as he says himself, notoriety.
Cards on table. I am not that much interested in the fight and even less in the ghastly hoopla surrounding it.
And I suspect all genuine boxing aficionados will feel the same way.
We’ll leave the hoi polloi – and there are plenty of them judging by the packed house at Wembley and those in Toronto and the United States – to swallow the bullshine, though I could think of a more appropriate bon mot for this blatantly choreographed exercise in narcissism and nastiness.
A one-ringed circus. Barnum and Bailey with knobs on.
Send in the clowns. Actually they already have.
The combatants have put on their very amateur dramatics four times in a week. It is so much a pantomime (with two demon kings), I am surprised they didn’t have a Saturday matinee.
I am not saying the fight, like the rehearsals, will be a fake, but the feuding certainly is.
As my insidethegames colleague Michael Pavitt described it in an excellent summary earlier this week: “An absurdly manufactured conflict between the pair, which will immediately switch to respect after the fight, should be turning people away.”
Alas it won’t. As I say, genuine fight fans won’t be turned on by what is pure gimmickry, but the public at large clearly have been. They are already clamoring for four-figure tickets for the $200 million hybrid extravaganza supposedly under Queensberry rules at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – and the box office hasn’t even opened yet.
What Mayweather and McGregor are doing is selling those tickets and global pay-per-view subscriptions.
But with their verbal cacophony of effing and blinding, they have turned boxing into a bonfire of their profanities.
When you deleted the expletives, there wasn’t much left of this soap opera you might call Sock and Roll.
The Wembley Arena ring announcer even declared Mayweather the greatest boxer of all time, saying there has never been another like him as the sport’s supreme entertainer.
Really? Has he never heard of Muhammad Ali? He was the true master of showmanship, but he did his thing in style.
But while Ali was no stranger to over-the-top drum-banging, in many years of listening to his orations, I never heard him swear once.
No doubt at the conclusion of this 12 rounds farce they will embrace like long-lost brothers, kissing and hugging just as Ali and Oscar Bonavena did at Madison Square after the Argentinean apparently had infuriated The Greatest by calling him “maricon” – Spanish slang for homosexual.
Ali feigned outrage, but as he said afterward as they sat at the press conference laughing together: ”Fooled you, eh? We were just selling tickets.”
As the late scribe and commentator Reg Gutteridge once memorably remarked, boxing is show business with blood. And it is becoming increasingly so these days.
However, unlike today’s boorish pair, Ali did his thing with a smile and not a manufactured snarl.
If – and it’s a big if – the forthcoming bout is genuinely contested, then Mayweather should win in a canter.
But McGregor, even without proper boxing experience, does have the proverbial puncher’s chance, albeit a very slim one.
The Money Man is 40 (though probably the fittest 40-year-old around), but hasn’t fought in two years and hasn’t knocked-out or stopped an opponent since 2011, nine fights ago.
However, Mayweather is no fool. He would not have taken this fight if he thought for a moment that his unblemished record would be sullied.
But if he wins and the authorities declare that he will have surpassed that 49-0 Rocky Marciano record, then it will be as much a joke as the fight itself.
Personally I would not be surprised if McGregor doesn’t lay a glove on one of the great masters of the defensive art that boxing has ever known. Especially if Mayweather elects to turn “the biggest fight of all time” into a bore war.
Meantime, we await with lip-licking anticipation the match-up between Saul ’Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Now that’s a real fight.
By Alan Hubbard
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.