The proposed fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor has a date and a site, but no contract quite yet.
Charles Jay on Boxing
There has been about as much disinformation about this proposed fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor as any fight I can remember, even the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout, which didn't have as many "stops" and "starts" as this one. What is being reported on Wednesday is that Mayweather Promotions had requested the date of August 26 with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the MGM Grand, then retracted it verbally, then submitted it formally, and it was approved.
Sports bettors should take note that this does not mean that the fight is signed, sealed and delivered. But it does mean that if it indeed gets finalized, there is a date and a home. And it is probably an indication of how close it may be to a reality.
That reality is ugly for a lot of boxing purists - in fact, just about everyone involved in the boxing industry - who see this as a joke. After all, if you are closely associated with boxing, you are well aware that in a hands-only bout, McGregor is going to be hard-pressed to land any meaningful punches whatsoever. And truth be told, to put someone into their first professional boxing competition against someone with a 49-0 record is something that perhaps shouldn't even be sanctioned in the state of Nevada, or any boxing commission, for that matter.
Yet Nevada wouldn't miss it for a second, because there is too much money on the table. Yeah, that's the way it is. And they can rationalize it too, because they can say that in another "combat sport," which they also sanction, and which does include hand-striking in a way that is similar to boxing, albeit with much smaller gloves, McGregor has been hugely successful.
And there are evidently some true believers who would give McGregor a chance. We know that because numbers have been posted on this fight in various places for a while now, and even at a price that no sportsbook in its right mind would ever put up, for risk of getting hurt very badly, there is a very healthy amount of money coming in on McGregor. And a story on the ESPN website forecast that there could be more money wagered on this fight than on the Pacquiao-Mayweather encounter.
Of course, a lot of this is UFC fan interest - especially, of course, those who give McGregor a chance. They are the ones who are really taking this fight seriously.
That's why it is such a ridiculous notion to try to reduce the role of Dana White in this promotion, as has been circulated through the media. In fact, his organization should take the lead, because between the audiences of both of these sports - boxing and MMA - the mixed martial arts fan is the one they have more of a hope of selling. This is an event of "aspiration" for the UFC follower, while for Mayweather, it is an easy payday and a way to facilitate a 50-0 finish to his career (if he stops there). In other words, there is a much more visceral interest from McGregor backers, who will pay and pay gladly. They need to be cultivated.
And the Mayweather team should be more than happy to let them handle the mechanics. Mayweather Promotions is not a promotional organization, per se, but a company that has signed some fighters and offers Floyd control of his own career. If they really knew how to swing a big promotion like this, they would have been doing that all along, but they have hired promoters to take care of the nuts and bolts. Golden Boy Promotions, owned by Oscar De La Hoya, now a big critic of this fight, was one of them.
The UFC not only has management people like White in place, they are owned by the duo of William Morris Endeavor and International Management Group (WME-IMG), which is as big a sports and entertainment agency as it gets.
Sure, they could conceivably get it done without the UFC playing a major role in the promotion itself, but there is probably no way to leave White out of it. I do not know exactly what is in McGregor's deal, but I would imagine that the UFC has to have promotional rights on him that cover any combat sport, so White has to be satisfied, one way or another, in order to give this thing the go-ahead. And he knows in the back of his mind that the UFC could take a credibility hit from the "squares" if McGregor is made to look silly. So he wants to get paid for it.
It has been brought up that White could be in violation of the Ali Act - a piece of federal legislation that concerns itself with boxing - by being involved in the negotiations. We're going to address that in a future column. Rest assured we're going to be covering this in great detail before all is said and done.
That is, if they really, truly get it signed.