At around 9PM yesterday evening the eyes of the world were fixed on the glitzy smorgasbord of sin that is Las Vegas.
In perhaps the most hyped up boxing match of our lives Floyd Mayweather took on Conor McGregor.
The media had been building it up for weeks and weeks. Both fighters were very high profile and very outspoken – meaning that there was constant content to be harvested. A sports editor’s dream.
Boxing has always been full of big characters and drama – it relies on promotion, so mountains are made out of molehills as much as possible.
But there was something unique about the fight.
Floyd Mayweather has been called the best boxer of his generation, and as he has now retired with 50 wins and no losses, you could argue that that’s fair comment.
However his opponent, Conor McGregor, wasn’t an actual boxer. He’d never competitively fought in a boxing ring – yet he’d called out Mayweather, and Mayweather had answered.
Crazy isn’t it? Most people would go out of their way to avoid clashing with an unbeaten professional boxer.
But, not McGregor.
He was a professional MMA fighter, which is very different to boxing.
But, there he was!
Calling Mayweather out and telling anyone who would listen that he’d beat him.
The media lapped it up. Crazy headlines all round. Some even told us that medical experts had warned McGregor, telling him not to compete for the sake of his health.
None of it stopped him.
He managed to last ten rounds but eventually Mayweather clinched it. Much to the relief of the bookies.
Both men survived and then went their separate ways. McGregor back to his native Ireland, and Mayweather to enjoy his retirement.
McGregor lost. Technically. But he also pocketed $30 million for the fight (with Mayweather taking away $100).
Previously the most McGregor had ever won was $3 million. Now he can times that by ten. So, really, neither man lost. Or at least not in a coventional sense.
I mean, would you feel defeated if you received 30 million dollars after a really bad day at the office?
Is money in sport (and other big industries) changing the meaning of the word loss?
Sure, McGregor maybe disappointed that he didn’t win (that is if he ACTUALLY believed he would), but just imagine what he can do with that 30 million.
Mayweather said after the fight: “If I see an opportunity to make $300m in 36 minutes, why not? I had to do it.”
That says it all, it was a fight made from marketing more than anything else. Yet people bought into it, they paid to see it and they betted on it. All of them clinging on to the slight hope that this underdog might just prevail.
Back in the day I used to captain a six-a-side football team in a Sunday league. Each week we paid a few quid to play. On many of those weeks we lost.
It built character and comradeship between us, and each week we’d come back with a new determination.
I wonder if we’d have been quite so bothered by a loss if we received a big cash injection afterwards. As we were students back then, I highly doubt it…
Take professional footballers for example, imagine if they were only paid for the games they won – how different do you think things would be?