On Tuesday, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor met for the first time, as the two kicked off their promo tour in Los Angeles.
It was over-the-top and a mess. It was more pro wrestling than boxing.
What we saw on Tuesday was almost an exact replica of what took place on movie screens in 1996. “The Great White Hype” starred Samuel L. Jackson, Damon Wayans and Peter Berg, and was a sports comedy about the shadiness of what goes on behind boxing’s closed doors.
Wayans played the undefeated champ James “The Grim Reaper” Roper, who is in search of a big payday, after his last few fights haven’t done well on pay-per-view due to a lack of interest from the public. That’s when Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Rev. Fred Sultan, a promoter who is modeled after Don King, comes up with the idea of having his fighter get in the ring with a white boxer, to play on race relations.
Peter Berg plays “Irish Terry Conklin,” but isn’t really Irish, and is the only fighter to ever defeat Roper, as the two met at the amateur level.
The gist of the movie is that this fight will turn into a huge payday because race is at the core of it.
Roper: “Nobody is gonna buy the idea of a white contender. It ain’t about race, it’s about boxing.”
Sultan: (Laughs) “The highest grossing fight in the history of boxing is (Gerry) Cooney vs. (Larry) Holmes. Can you tell me why James?”
Roper: “Because Cooney was a white boy.”
Sultan: “And his jab couldn’t break wind. If there ain’t a white guy out there for you, I’m going to create you one.”
Life does indeed imitate art.
The hoopla around Mayweather fights has waned since his “better late than never” bout with Manny Pacquaio two years ago. Which is why the Mayweather/McGregor fight seems like a play straight out of cinema, but with a few new twists.
In real life, McGregor is actually Irish. And when Mayweather, who touts his love of green, took the stage on Tuesday decked out in red, white and blue. So, the USA vs. Ireland narrative has been set, even though Mayweather, a former U.S. Olympian, probably understands that he isn’t the most beloved athlete in this country due to his flashiness, bravado and domestic abuse history.
But the most intriguing thing about this upcoming matchup is that it’s bringing together the worlds of boxing and mixed martial arts. This is the first time that the two “fighting sports” will meet on such a huge stage. If McGregor does well, MMA could eclipse boxing once and for all. And if Mayweather gets knocked out in the way that McGregor promises, we could witness the death of boxing.
If Tuesday taught us anything, it’s that everything leading up to Aug. 26 is going to be a complete circus.
McGregor sported a custom pinstripe suit on Tuesday, in which the pinstripes were the words “F–k You.”
The fight costs about $ 100 to order on pay-per-view, and tickets start at $ 500 for nose bleeds and go up to $ 10,000 for ringside.
No matter what you think about Mayweather, McGregor, or any of the insane shenanigans that took place on Tuesday, you have to admit that they’re putting on a show to sell this fight.
Mayweather looks desperate for attention and money.
McGregor seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to cash out on the biggest payday of his life.
And it’s what big time boxing matches have become: flash over substance.
At the end of “The Great White Hype,” Ropers’ camp celebrated their biggest payday after he knocked Conklin out 27 seconds into the first round. The fight wasn’t one that was built on skill or competition because the foundation was always race and money.
Who knows what will happen next month, but don’t be surprised if it’s over before it even starts, or if it doesn’t live up to the hype.
But that’s not the point, because on Tuesday, Mayweather and McGregor gave us a preview of the upcoming train wreck that we won’t be able to turn away from.
Which is why I’m wondering if that says more about them, or us?
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