Sunday 18 August 2019

Not easy to avoid the money-fuelled circus

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dana White splits Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor apart at the SSE Arena in London
Dana White splits Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor apart at the SSE Arena in London

Dave Devereux

Sometimes you try desperately hard to give something a wide berth, like putting an unsavoury D.I.Y. job on the long finger, or any mention of Christmas when trick or treating is still on the to-do list, but during the past week the tiresome McGregor-Mayweather pantomime just couldn't be avoided.

It's beyond comprehension how a non-boxer can be allowed to enter the ring with one of the best pound for pound pugilists there's ever been.

The Dubliner is undoubtedly a supremely-accomplished athlete in his chosen field, it's just that professional boxing isn't it.

A McGregor triumph would be like Chris Froome hopping on his bicycle and overtaking Lewis Hamilton in his Formula One car; it's just not going to happen.

Okay, the two protagonists may both be involved in combat sports but the disciplines are completely different. It's not taking anything away from McGregor; if they met in an MMA octagon Mayweather would get his ass well and truly whooped.

You can't blame the stars of the silly show for making the most of the opportunity afforded to them. It's the fools willing to part with their hard-earned cash for such a folly that made it happen.

It wouldn't have got this far if the demand wasn't there for it among the blood-thirsty hordes.

There's plenty of talented boxers that have struggled up through the ranks that would love to get a shot at the master of defensive boxing, but although they'd have a far greater chance of erasing the zero from Mayweather's proud 49-0 record, sadly they wouldn't have the pulling power to garner the mega pay-per-view bucks.

Boxers that have been crafting their art for years would struggle to land a glove on Mayweather, so it's pretty obvious that's unless the universe aligns in some wacky, peculiar fashion, The Notorious will be chasing shadows as well as dollars at the end of August.

With McGregor's pride dented, the pair will then most likely face off in a crazy kickboxing contest so the two-weight UFC champion's lofty reputation can be restored and another big pay day for the boys will be guaranteed.

If you think that's far-fetched, it's not much more of a stretch than the showdown on August 26, that could just as easily have been written by the scriptwriters of the 'Rocky' franchise.

As for the cringe-worthy press conferences that have been used to drum up interest in the freakshow circus act, trash talk certainly ain't what it used to be.

It's a far cry from the articulate days of Muhammad Ali and well thought-out poetry like 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can't hit what his eyes can't see. Now you see me, now you don't. George thinks he will, but I know he won't'.

McGregor occasionally comes out with a mildly amusing quip, but he's certainly no Billy Connolly, or even Brendan Grace for that matter.

These days the build-up to every big boxing or UFC event seems to be aimed at the lowest common denominator, the Mrs Brown's Boys brigade that need little more than a volley of four-letter expletives to raise a smile as wide as the Las Vegas Strip.

Speaking of Ali, he wasn't immune from being roped into the ridiculous either with his fight against Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in Tokyo in 1976 along similar lines to what we will witness in Vegas a little over 40 years later.

Although McGregor seems to have the Marmite effect, I'm in neither camp and can take him or leave him.

Fair play to him for dragging himself from the grip of unemployment to being one of the biggest draws in the world, while many who put little effort in to leave the same dole queue will be quickest to begrudge him his success.

However, one thing I don't understand is why McGregor fans think if you don't support him you're somehow being unpatriotic. It's pretty much impossible to connect with all people in individual sports and just because they happen to be from the same part of the planet as yourself isn't enough to forge a connection.

There's plenty of other sports stars from the Emerald Isle that wouldn't have commanded my undying affection and I'll never be a fully paid-up member of the fan club of Irish wrestler Sheamus.

In the same way I just can't buy into this joke of a contest. The best of luck to the two of them - they can laugh manically like Mr Burns counting their wads of cash all the way to the bank. Both have made it blindingly clear on numerous occasions that it's money that motivates them, so they're in a win-win situation.

However, the cost to the integrity of sport will be far greater than the millions of dollars being thrown around like confetti.

As a society we reap what we sow. Money and greed has seeped its way into every orifice of professional sport and this farcical fight is the vulgar tipping point.

Wexford People

Most Read