Floyd Mayweather Jr insists he is “giving the people what they want” by agreeing to the carnival clash with Conor McGregor on August 26. And while that may be the case in casual circles, in a wider context it’s not what the sport needs, or indeed wants.
Boxing has enjoyed a meteoric resurgence in 2017 to starve nonsensical suggestions that the sport is dead. Although the May/Mac hybrid event won’t kill it off entirely, it’s certainly a stab in the back.
The fight completely goes against the notion of competition because it’s a foregone conclusion, with the 49-0 boxer, the best of his era, sealing the prestigious 50-0 mark against a complete novice.
But it’s not just the predetermined outcome which will hurt boxing’s credibility, it will be the nature of it. The lingering stench left by Mayweather’s lopsided win over Manny Pacquiao two years ago has only just dissipated with his exit from the ring allowing the likes of Saul Alvarez and Anthony Joshua to flourish.
Their brand of violence has come to hallmark a fine year which has stimulated interest in boxing, but Mayweather’s defensive style is the complete antithesis, a skillset which disillusioned a wider audience.
In MMA, McGregor has almost exclusively fought as a counter-puncher and against a defensive boxer like Mayweather it will make for periods of painful inactivity. A one-sided battering, or even an attempt to brawl from the Irishman could be viewed as entertainment even if not competitive.
But chances are Floyd will walk to victory by barely throwing or receiving a punch.
It also comes just three weeks before a genuine fight of the year candidate in Alvarez v Gennady Golovkin. May/Mac sucks the oxygen out of that contest while also siphoning the life out of a sport which has been reborn in Mayweather’s absence.
This clear moneygrab is an abuse boxing doesn’t deserve.
Because of the nature of the personalities involved and the acknowledgement they’re doing this purely for money, the public should be able to separate this from the rest of the boxing world and see it for what it is.
At best, a more legitimate real-life version of Rocky v Thunderlips or, at worst, a freak show in which the very worst aspects of the fight game are broadcast before, during and after what will undoubtedly be a one-sided contest.
Conor McGregor’s first professional boxing bout against one of the greatest of all time will be short. The Irishman is essentially being paid $80 million to step into a ring and get beaten up.
And that ludicrous and trivial nature of the contest means nobody is going to be taking it seriously. Providing McGregor avoids severe injuries he’ll return to the UFC soon enough considerably richer and it won’t affect his standing in MMA, while Mayweather will return to retirement to buy some Bugattis.
When you factor in the pantomime that we’re going to be subjected over the next two months in terms of the verbal build-up, it’s going to be a circus. Entertainment over sport.
It would be a real concern if this fight had happened 12 months ago when the sport was at its lowest ebb as a series of faceless champions wore belts nobody cared about, and the biggest names sleepwalked through bouts. Mayweather v McGregor would have been viewed with excitement, as a means of jolting life into the fight game.
And, that, would have led to real damage because, then what comes next? Does that then dictate the future of the sport? But with Joshua-Klitschko and a reinvigorated heavyweight division plus Golovkin-Alvarez to come, the landscape has shifted considerably.
Boxing is in a healthy place and strong enough to keep August 26 as the fun but ultimately gaudy sideshow it deserves to be.
Ricky Hatton has criticised the arrangement of a bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, despite being an admirer of both fighters.
It was announced earlier in the week that 40-year-old former multi-weight world champion Mayweather would come out of retirement to put his 49-0 record on the line against mixed martial arts champion McGregor in Las Vegas this summer.
The Irishman has never boxed and critics have questioned the integrity of a contest against one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Hatton, who was stopped by Mayweather in the 10th round when the pair met in 2007, predicts the American could win every round, although accepts there could be plenty of entertainment.
“I cant say I’m a fan of it,” Hatton told BBC Radio 5 live.
Hatton places no blame on the fighters for accepting what is likely to be a nine-figure purse, but believes McGregor will struggle to make an impact once the bell sounds.
“When I look at some of the people Mayweather has beaten like Saul Alvarez – he’s not going to be as big a puncher as Alvarez, and he couldn’t lay a glove on him.
“I feel embarrassed to say this but I’d be very surprised if (McGregor) wins a round.
“I hope he does well, I hope he wins; there’s no doubt whose corner I’m in, but if you’re asking me to be brutally honest I can’t see anything other than a shut-out for Mayweather. I think it could be a 12-round onslaught, to be honest with you.
“Boxing and UFC have to take the blame for it – I don’t think you can blame the fighters because it’s going to be a stack of money.
“Good luck to the boys. Who’s going to turn their back on that? I just can’t say I’m a fan of this.
“I’m fans of both sports but they’re their own individual sports and they should stick to their own.”
Nine-figure purses and pay-per-view revenues to match have already been projected for Floyd Mayweather's fight with mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor in Las Vegas in August.
Here, Press Association Sport picks out five more seminal moments in boxing's financial history:
1. JACK JOHNSON v JIM JEFFERIES, 1910
Jefferies came out of retirement to challenge Johnson in the so-called 'Fight of the Century' as white America sought desperately to find a way to dethrone the controversial champion. Johnson was tempted by a purse in excess of USD100,000 - two thirds of which was promised to the winner. In front of 20,000 people in Reno, Johnson duly took the spoils.
2. GENE TUNNEY v JACK DEMPSEY, 1927
Tunney all but earned boxing's first million-dollar purse for his world heavyweight title rematch with Dempsey in 1927. Tunney's actual purse was USD990,445, but he paid promoter Tex Rickard the difference in order to receive a cheque for USD1million. Tunney won the much-hyped contest which will go down in history as 'The Batlte of the Long Count' after Tunney survived an extended seventh round knockdown.
3. MUHAMMAD ALI v GEORGE FOREMAN, 1974
Ali and Foreman split a total purse of USD10million for what is arguably the most famous boxing match of all time - a relative pittance by today's astronomical standards. Promoter Don King made the promise to bring the pair together, then was forced to head to the heart of Africa to discover a regime obsessive and dictatorial enough to stump up the cash. The Rumble in the Jungle was born.
4. SUGAR RAY LEONARD v THOMAS HEARNS, 1981
Leonard was no stranger to multi-million dollar purses after two epic battles with Roberto Duran. But the USD10million he was to be paid for his world welterweight title scrap with Thomas Hearns set a new record for dollars earned in a single sporting event. Hearns also earned over USD5million for a contest which shattered the notion that only the sport's heavyweight division could command such fees.
5. FLOYD MAYWEATHER v MANNY PACQUIAO, 2015
Mayweather and Pacquiao both grossed nine-figure purses for the first time despite their anti-climactic meeting in Las Vegas in 2015. The richest bout in boxing history earned a total of around USD600million in total revenue, almost two thirds of which was made up by record pay-per-view buys. The new mark shattered the estimated USD150million generated by Mayweather's previous fight against Saul Alvarez.