One of the few headline-making boxing matches, and why it matters
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao became (even more of) household names two years ago as their fight—which was much hyped-up by sports media—came to a dull and anticlimactic end. This follows roughly a decade of falling ratings and disappointing venue turnouts, leading many dramatic sports websites to declare it the “end of boxing.”
Now, the sport has another chance to return to the American limelight as MMA champion Conor McGregor faces off against boxing champion Mayweather. It’s another hyped-up match, and one starting out with just as much controversy as what the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight ended with.
Floyd Mayweather is one of the most skilled and accomplished boxers in the history of the sport. The accuracy of his punches is unparalleled, his technique is sharp and flawless, and his out-of-game personality is in line with boxing tradition: loud, obnoxious, and aggressive. Both before and after the Pacquiao fight, Mayweather made multiple inflammatory and insulting comments about his opponent, including calling him a “sore loser” and using some racial slurs, among similar statements. Though this behaviour is nothing new to the sport, it did add to the media perception of boxing as an outdated sport past its prime. Despite retiring after the fight, Mayweather is an athlete and still very much represents classic boxing, with tightness and control being key, while also being a hugely controversial figure outside of the game.
Given that, it makes thematic sense that his opponent would be an outsider. Enter Conor McGregor, one of the most famous athletes in the last half decade. A long-time UFC champion and one of the most decorated MMA fighters around, McGregor represents the competition to boxing: a rival American martial arts sport, and one with considerably less controversy in judging and rulings. McGregor already has a history with Mayweather, having challenged him a few times over the years, and now he’s succeeded in drawing him out of retirement for a match already (and pre-emptively) being called “The Fight of the Century.”
Though it’s almost universally expected that Mayweather will win the fight by a considerable margin due to McGregor’s lack of experience in the field of boxing, the match holds undeniable symbolic meaning. As pay-per-view earnings fall and ratings plummet for boxing, McGregor vs. Mayweather will likely be the fight to determine whether or not boxing has finally, like most of its greatest champions, decided to hang up the gloves. Representing the future of fighting sports is the young and hotheaded McGregor. His opponent, the veteran Mayweather, is calm, calculated, and ruthless, everything that boxing is known for. It makes sense that the athletes representing their sports are among the greatest to ever perform in them.
Though the headline may say Mayweather vs. McGregor, it may as well say boxing vs. MMA. A showdown long in the making, this fight represents more than the will of two great men. It represents a changing of the guard. While MMA will undoubtedly continue on as the ever popular UFC, this may be boxing’s final bout of glory. After all, why not go out with a bang?