It went from being impossible to unthinkable to unworkable to ultimately inevitable, and by now it has been talked about so much that it doesn’t even seem so weird anymore.
Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor will square off in a boxing match on Aug. 26, according to two two people with knowledge of the deal. They requested anonymity because the fight had not been formally announced.
The contest will put one of the best boxers ever against a man who has never competed in the sport. Such a statement would have sounded truly ridiculous a year ago. Now it is real, and it is going to fill the bank accounts of both men on a spectacular scale.
Make no mistake, it is all about the money. It is money, and the chance to make a lot of it without any risk of defeat, that persuaded Mayweather to come out of retirement. The same reason is what convinced McGregor to step into an unfamiliar arena of combat that will almost surely end in defeat.
Money is what got the key power brokers, from Mayweather adviser Al Haymon to Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, to sit down and hash things out.
For UFC star McGregor in particular, the earnings, which could top $50 million for him and nine figures for Mayweather, will be unlike anything he has sampled in mixed martial arts.
Perhaps it is still ridiculous. How McGregor can possibly hope to be competitive is the biggest shadow looming over the bout and its ability to sell huge numbers on pay per view.
Not only has he never boxed, either as an amateur or pro, but he will be completely unaccustomed to the larger gloves that are used in the ring compared to the UFC octagon, unused to the shorter rounds but longer total fight time of a boxing match, and unable to use all the varied techniques he has acquired in MMA.
But does the public really care about that? Modern pay-per-view sales have succeeded less on the perception of whether the consumer is paying for a tremendous fight filled with action and energy, and much more upon if the promotion is able to build things up as something unique and unmissable.
Given that Mayweather and McGregor are both expert trash talkers and brazen self-promoters, this one will have a special feel to it, even if that aura dissipates the moment the opening bell sounds.
The sales pitch will be relatively simple — that this is a once in a lifetime chance to see the best in boxing take on the best in MMA. McGregor has a huge following and he is the highest-paid athlete in the UFC because his fights sell bigger than anyone else’s.
Not every UFC fan will pony up to see him challenge boxing’s biggest mouth, but plenty will.
Given that this is a fight that was created purely for fiscal purposes it seems only logical to talk about the money, and how much of it can be made. The disappointing farce that was Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in 2015 could put something of a dent in this fight’s bid to be the biggest PPV seller of all-time.
If enough time has passed to make people forget that they shelled out nearly $100 for a total dud back then, another spectacularly high number is feasible.
Either way, Mayweather-McGregor is coming, whether you like it or not, and it will dominate most of the chatter across both boxing and MMA over the coming couple of months.
The fight will be held at 154 lbs., and it will take place in Las Vegas at the newer, larger T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas is the only place for it, a city that produces shows that defy belief, and where -- every now and then -- the impossible comes to fruition.
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