It would be the fight to end all fights but, as time ticks on and both sides fail to cement plans, you have wonder: do Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor actually want to face each other?
For the best part of a year, the idea of a super fight between the undisputed icons of UFC and boxing has been on the cards – or at least that was the idea. The fact of the matter is that fans are no closer to knowing whether the bout will actually happen, despite what those involved tell us.
In any case, it’s not likely to be any time soon according to UFC boss Dana White. Speaking after Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s 12-round victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the UFC chief revealed that the proposed date for a Mayweather v McGregor fight had “gone”.
In an announcement that may have come as a surprise to many fans, the two had supposedly pencilled in 16 September 2017 as the date for their potential fight. But is this just all smoke and mirrors? Do these two really want to face-off or is the idea likely to be more intriguing than the reality?
For his part, White sounds suitably non-committal on the chances of the fight actually happening. “Floyd wants this fight, and we want to try and make it, so we’ll see what happens,” he said – note the key phrase there being “we want to try”.
“Listen, Floyd is one of the best ever in the history of the game, and Conor is one of the best ever in the history of our game, so people want to see it, and I’m always into making fights that people want to see.”
But while people may well “want to see” the pair go toe-to-toe, as strange as it may sound, you have to wonder, money aside, what would motivate either fighter to face-off here.
Mayweather made $300m from his bout with Manny Pacquaio, and doesn’t need the pay day this fight would likely provide. “A lot of fighters in the sport of boxing may want to retire, but they have to fight because they have to. I don’t have to fight,” he told USA Today a few months back.
“I made $300m for fighting Pacquiao. I’m OK. Like I said before, I’m happy with my position. Once again, the money don’t make me; I make money. I’m well off. I make smart moves, and like I said before, I’m happy with where my career went.”
You have to wonder, with that in mind, whether Mayweather would really be willing, when it comes down to it, to put his incredible unbeaten record on the line. He’s not the same fighter he was; older and less light in the step.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that McGregor’s biggest strength lies in his boxing skills and fearless approach to fighting. He’s also as dedicated and determined a trainer as they come meaning that it’s entirely believable that, as veteran broadcaster Skip Bayless previously predicted, the pair might simply circle each other before Mayweather ultimately pulls the plug.
“When it [the fight] gets that close, in the end Floyd will bow out and he will make the excuse that Conor McGregor is making ‘outrageous, unrealistic demands.’ He does it every time, because he wants no part of Conor McGregor,” he told Fox.
But you also have to wonder about McGregor’s motivations or how much he is pinning on this fight.
When McGregor previously announced his decision to take a break from UFC before the birth of his son, it wasn’t specified that he would be facing Mayweather when he returned, with an MMA comeback the more likely move.
And there are plenty who reckon that, once Mayweather does return to the ring, he would be better served sticking to the Octagon rather than playing Floyd at his own game.
“Realistically, he has to go from wearing those little gardening gloves that those MMA fighters wear to a 10oz glove, which is what the welterweight fighters wear today. Big difference,” ring announcer Michael Buffer told loaded. “Put that together with the fact he’d be fighting one of the greatest defensive fighters we’ve seen in the last 25 years perhaps and you have to say his chances are nil.”
Mayweather is at the top of his sport, MMA, with countless endorsement deals, film roles and talk of an appearance in WWE on the cards but that could all disappear should he end up humiliated by Mayweather – just ask Ronda Rousey.
Rousey was the poster girl of UFC before humiliating back-to-back defeats saw talk of a wrestling career and starring role in a Roadhouse movie all but evapourated. Mayweather is a bigger star than Rousey but the old adage rings true – the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Of course, if the fight does happen and if they do prove an equal match then it could yet end up being a hugely beneficial situation for both parties, but that’s a pretty big if. It’s also worth remembering that there are two pretty sizeable egos involved here, with both sides likely to be supremely confident of their chances of winning, but those around them may have other ideas.
In the world of boxing and professional sport, there always has to be a loser – are both of these guys willing to risk it all to find out who?