Theatrics and delirium: Mayweather vs McGregor presser

James McHugh
19/07/2017 1:59pm

The Mayweather vs McGregor 'world tour' came to an end last Friday, as the four-day, three-country spectacle concluded in London. James McHugh reports from the SSE Arena at Wembley...

Now that the theatrics are over, the countdown to 26 August - and one of the most controversial contests in boxing history - officially begins. After countless hours of hype, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor will finally lock horns in a 12-round boxing match that looks set to be the highest grossing fight of all time, even if many believe it is a mismatch.

Before the duo arrived in London, Los Angeles, Toronto and New York had hosted three other press conferences and, in typical fashion, Irishman McGregor claimed he won every round in each city.

More than 10,000 delirious fans gathered at Wembley's SSE Arena on Friday night, the vast majority chanting McGregor’s name and booing Mayweather’s every word as the two megastars traded insults for the last time before they meet in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

maymac2 2There’s no doubt that McGregor was by far the more popular when the two fighters appeared on stage. Clad in a suit, he goaded the 40-year-old Mayweather with taunts about his age, hands, bald head and tax bill. The Dubliner also predicted that he will win the bout inside four rounds and “rule boxing”.

Mayweather was relatively subdued, reduced to call and response chants with his fans, shouting “Hard Work” and “All work is what?” and repetitively referring to the vast amounts of money he has earned. 

The undefeated Hall of Fame-bound boxer and the UFC lightweight champ traded many of the same crude jibes displayed at the previous press conferences, with further profanities thrown in for good measure, before they finally squared up to one another.

Both men took it in turns to address the crowd - McGregor, who has never boxed professionally, announced: “Four years ago I fought in London at The Forum in front of about 500 people. Now here I am about to quadruple my net worth with one half a fight. Sign me up. No one is going to kick, knee or elbow. And it’s against this little b****.”

maymac3 2McGregor went on to taunt the American, who has never been defeated in the professional ring. "I'm going to knock you out on August 26. You have made a big mistake, for the money. I'm going to destroy your legacy,” he said.

Mayweather, aiming to win his 50th career fight, had to endure the raucous crowd's chants of "Oh Conor McGregor" while trying to speak.

He shouted back: “Give him some more chants, you nursery rhymes. You can’t fight for him!” Floyd also threw in a somewhat bizarre metaphor: “I feel so good. I look so good. I’m undefeated. And this is all you have to offer? This is a microwave meal. I’m a home-cooked meal. Step your game up.”

McGregor had the last laugh, grabbing a microphone and asking the crowd to shout “f*** Floyd Mayweather” on the count of three, to which they obliged. Despite hurling expletives in each other's faces, sometimes from just inches away, the pair never looked close to fighting on stage. They both know there's too much money at risk, and they also both know that every verbal jab landed goes a little further to increasing their take-home pay.

maymac3 3While the money generated by the clash in Las Vegas is expected to eclipse the previous record held by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, it's a contest the credibility of which has been repeatedly questioned.

McGregor, who recently turned 29, is a boxing novice and is facing a man that many regard as the finest boxer of his generation. Mayweather is widely regarded as one of the best defensive fighters ever, and prides himself on his ability to evade punishment with his skilful movement whilst making adjustments against opponents once they stand toe to toe.

A win for Mayweather would move him ahead of former heavyweight great Rocky Marciano, who also retired with a perfect 49-0 career record, whereas an unlikely triumph for McGregor would propel the UFC’s poster boy into the status of a truly global icon. Given McGregor's seeming obsession with making every fight feel bigger than the last, his showdown against Mayweather will be very hard to top.

Although the Irishman came out on top during the press conferences, few doubt it'll be a different story once the men step through the ropes on 26 August.