Once again Conor McGregor has been linked with boxing, with famous boxers in fantasy fights, gates of a billion dollars and in the rich glow of victory comes the absurdity of assumptions.
McGregor is the most complex of characters with assaults, abuse and various lunatic claims but with them a story of survival, of having nothing, of desolation and rejection in the Dublin fighter’s life.
He changed his life forever with his fists, feet and shoulders, took over the UFC business, sold out arenas all over the world and on Saturday night in Las Vegas he won a fight for the first time in over three years. It took just 40 seconds to beat Donald Cerrone, the fallen cowboy in the script, and before the blood had been cleared from the loser’s mangled face, the fairy tale makers had McGregor strapping on gloves to fight boxers. I thought he had some unfinished business in the UFC. Silly me.
In the summer of 2017 McGregor switched codes, fought with dignity at times in a blatant ram-raid on boxing when he was stopped in ten rounds by Floyd Mayweather; it confirmed what we knew – McGregor can box, had fought as a boy in Dublin, but was just too raw even for an old, unmotivated Mayweather. He also made over $60million and there are bold claims that taking care of the Cowboy paid even better.
McGregor’s last win in any code – assuming whacking a fifty-year-old geezer in a bar does not count – was in November 2016. It says a lot about Brand McGregor that one win can instantly salvage a career. Cerrone, incidentally, completed a hat-trick of quick defeats, two in the first, one in the second when he lost. Now, I know the UFC is unsparing in it’s matchmaking, has no protection policy, but three losses should not in any combat sport be the basis for any statements, but in McGregorland, a fun place for sure with blurred boundaries, it is somehow good enough.
In the aftermath, which with just under 20,000 in the T-Mobile was sure to be lively, the matchmakers went to work, ignoring facts, weight, history and any sense of perspective. There is talk of a return with Mayweather, who is now 42 and has not fought since beating McGregor. The stoppage that night was Mayweather’s first in six years and eight fights. However, a rematch is surely being discussed and that is because just about anything is possible in Floyd’s playground, an equally odd place of excesses and no excuses.
The other name is Manny Pacquiao, still active at 41, but there are real issues. On Saturday McGregor weighed 170 pounds, nearly 25 pounds heavier than Pacquiao weighed for his last fight in July, at welterweight for the WBA title. Pacquiao won, beating the previously unbeaten Keith Thurman – those statistics belong in a galaxy of sanity a long, long way from the record of hope the Cowboy entered the Octagon with. The ancient Pacquiao might just need less than 40 seconds to end McGregor’s next boxing outing; Manny is understandably interested.
Going forward, when the branded whisky bottles have been cleared, the bars in Las Vegas fallen silent and the cash totals divided, it would be nice if there was a sense of perspective attached to all the boxing plans and schemes of McGregor, his backers and the industry he has wonderfully fashioned. The reality of McGregor in the boxing business, where the cult of popularity is still currency, is that he can fight and lose to old, old men, but would still not win a British or Irish title in the ring. And, if he met any of the champions at his weight and age he would get badly hurt. Still, the crazy talk is a lot of fun.