On 26 August undefeated boxing great Floyd
Mayweather Jr. will fight mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor. Both fighters are
expected to earn upwards of $100m each. So there’s at least two people who
think this match is a good idea. Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason; there’s
nothing like a ‘crossover’ for drawing a crowd. So the richest, loudest, most flamboyant
man in boxing is taking on the richest, loudest, most flamboyant man in MMA. In boxing the only legal strikes permitted
are punches to the head and body above the waist. MMA is the modern term given to
interdisciplinary combat sport, drawing on but not limited to judo, wrestling, karate
and kick-boxing. This contest, however, is to be a pure boxing match. This is as much about boxing v MMA as it is
the fighters. There is a perception that boxing is in decline.
The ‘alphabet soup’ of sanctioning bodies, high-priced pay-per-view deals and low standard
of the once-popular heavyweight division have all been cited as factors. For MMA the fast-pace of fights, the ability
to get their best fighters together and the promotional acumen of the Ultimate Fighting
Championship have done much to advance the sport’s profile. Last year UFC was sold
for $4.2 bn. Anyone who remembers the Mayweather v Pacquiao
megafight-come-yawnfest will feel a little reluctant about going along with the hype.
But concerns about the technical merit of the fight are almost incidental. The event pitches itself as an unapologetic indulgence of machismo. This is an utterly singular event, with lots
of wild card factors and unknowable elements. The common perception is that MMA fighters
would mop the floor with a boxer in an MMA bout. However, this is being fought in a boxing
ring and few past or present boxers give McGregor a prayer. Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers of
all time, with a near-impenetrable defence and underrated power. McGregor did some boxing
in his teens, but has never competitively boxed at amateur level, let alone professional. Do say: McGregor’s high-pressure fight-style will
need to be at its best to get through Floyd’s tight defence. Don’t say: Just kick him the head.