It was four days of insults, excess and expensive jet fuel. It also took the sporting world hostage with a barrage of front-page headlines that will go a long way in helping Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor approach their lofty box office and pay-per-view projections.
Mayweather, the 40-year-old former pound-for-pound king, and McGregor wrapped up a four-city international press tour on Friday in London — on the UFC lightweight champion’s 29th birthday no less — promoting their Aug. 26 boxing match in Las Vegas.
The often bizarre spectacle was every bit as flashy and crude as one might expect considering the size of the personalities (and egos) involved. And, yes, at times it went too far. But it certainly left a huge mark, playing to one sold-out arena after another.
As we count down the final 40 or so days until fight night, let’s look back at what we did and didn’t learn from the Mayweather-McGregor world tour.
What we learned
1. No other fighters could’ve pulled this off: Let’s throw out this one disclaimer before moving forward: Four consecutive days of the same show proved not to be a good thing in the end, especially if you had devoured every second of interviews and trash talk. It’s likely that two days would’ve sufficed, if not a radical change in format each day. But with that said, both Mayweather and McGregor performed the kind of improv, live comedy act (helped by a few pre-planned props) during the tour’s top moments that went a long way in making this, overall, a huge success. Whether it was Mayweather draping himself in the Irish flag and willingly playing the heel in front of hostile crowds or McGregor providing a witty one-up for nearly every comment Mayweather made, this was a top-shelf performance from both.
Yes, it quickly became apparent that Mayweather failed to prepare four days worth of material. The tour also devolved at times into the areas of race, misogyny and homophobia — items that sadly still linger within the fight game but make an incredibly poor advertisement to a mainstream audience in 2017. But both fighters flashed a sort of virtuoso ability in terms of marketing and performance that no one else could’ve pulled off with such apparent ease.
2. McGregor really, really believes he can win: In the end, this might prove to be the best way to entice casual fans to purchase the fight: Place a microphone in front of McGregor, have him flash those crazy eyes and let him seduce you into believing he will knock Mayweather out. Admittedly, he’s rather convincing in his attempts. McGregor has earned the self-given moniker of “Mystic Mac” in the UFC for how many times he has predicted the exact round and ending of his fights, despite the long odds against him at times. Everything he has claimed he would do throughout his MMA career, he has done. Hearing him break down, from a technical standpoint, why he thinks he can land punches against such a defensive wizard as Mayweather should’ve come across as ridiculous. But somehow and some way, it didn’t. It’s a testament to McGregor’s outrageous confidence and his history of snake-charming opponents.
3. Mayweather was a salesman until the very end: There was an expectation from many that the press tour could prove more exciting and entertaining than the fight itself, which has been called a gross mismatch on paper. One of the big unknowns coming in centered upon whether McGregor could get inside the head of the always unflappable Mayweather, forcing him “off script” in terms of his mindset to produce an emotional and real reaction. Outside of some decently intense trash talk during the first few staredowns, that moment never really came. Mayweather certainly took his shots at McGregor during their comedic exchanges, from ripping his net worth in comparison to constant references to the Irishman’s three submission losses in MMA. But he made sure to underwrite each of those statements during the backstage media scrums by putting over McGregor’s chances at pulling the upset come fight night. With constant references to McGregor’s advantages in reach and age, Floyd made sure the fight’s bottom line was always at the forefront of his intentions.