By: Danny Serratelli
Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s last fight took place against former 2-time welterweight champion, Andre Berto a few weeks short of 2 years ago in an uneventful fight in which he easily out boxed Berto over 12-rounds. Floyd won all 12 rounds on 1 judge’s card while winning 9 and 10 rounds respectively on the other 2 judge’s cards. He promptly announced his retirement after the fight.
At 38 years of age, after fighting since his childhood and fighting as a pro for nearly 20 years Floyd he made it clear to the public that he was content promoting young fighters and spending time with his family and sincerely did not want to fight anymore. “There’s nothing else for me to do in the sport of boxing. I made great investments, I’m financially stable, well off,” said Floyd, who was Forbes highest paid athlete 3 of 4 years after his fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2015 and one of the top 10 highest payed athletes in any sport of all time, recently placing at #7 all time and he will move up that list after this fight.
Fighters like Floyd and Conor need to possess a level of confidence that runs deep and that most people cannot even comprehend. Early in his career, when the fighter than known as “Pretty Boy” Floyd was in his early 20’s he told Lou DiBella, who was then with HBO “I’m not like another guy. I’m going to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. I’m never going to lose. I’m going to make more money than any fighter in history.” DiBella has stated “I liked him having that sense of himself in what’s a very hard business, but I thought he was out of his mind.”
Over the years, many people in mixed martial arts have also thought that McGregor was out of his mind; however, in time, both men have made believers out of everyone in their respective sports and both have proven that they are crazy like a couple of foxes.
A big turning point in Floyd’s career came back in 2006 after coming back in a fight he was losing to beat Brooklyn’s Zab “Super” Judah. It is clear in retrospect that “Pretty Boy” Floyd made one of the smartest moves in the history of sports. He bought himself out of his contract with promoter Bob Arum for $750,000, and joined forces with Al Haymon. Floyd would say “I had done good numbers before Al Haymon, but when we came together, we had a game plan, and then everything came to be.”
Haymon would set up a meeting for Floyd with Ross Greenburg, executive producer of the Showtime reality series. “All Access” and at that meeting Floyd told him, “I’m going to be the biggest star in the sport. Line em up and let’s go!” Under the guidance of Haymon and the “Money Team”, “Money” Mayweather was born. While Floyd has since stated on numerous occasions that he has not been at his best since around that time, he became the best businessman in boxing and has lived up to the name “Money” ever since.
Soon after this Floyd proceeded to beat Oscar DeLaHoya in a close split decision in what at that time became the biggest money fight in the history of boxing. He then knocked out Ricky Hatton, who was 43-0 at the time and had legions of fans from England pack the house in Vegas to boo Floyd, just like McGregor’s have now come from Ireland to do the same thing.
After the Hatton fight, Floyd said he was retiring at 31 years old and he proceeded to have the 2nd longest layoff of his career. The only time Floyd has had a longer layoff is the present layoff between the Berto fight and Saturday’s fight with McGregor.
During Floyd’s mini retirement, which seemed to be all part of his master plan he participated in a professional wrestling match with the WWE and he competed on, Dancing with the Stars. During this mini retirement for Floyd, where he built up demand to see him return, Conor McGregor was just making his professional debut at the age of 19. By the time Conor took his 1st lose, Floyd was back and had dominated a blown up Juan Manuel Marquez and coming back after being caught early to dominate “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
Floyd’s next fight was a notable fight against a southpaw, like McGregor, Victor Ortiz, who like Zab Judah had some success early against Floyd until a very bizarre ending in which Floyd knocked him out with a shot most people viewed as a cheap shot, but that came after Ortiz blatantly tried to headbutt Mayweather a couple times and then failed to protect himself after apologizing too many times, 10 days after that fight, Conor would suffer his 2nd loss, dropping his record to 4-2.
Over the following few years McGregor would go on to finally make his UFC debut with a 12-2 record in impressive fashion when he knocked out Marcus Brimage in the 1st round. McGregor wouldn’t lose a fight from 2011 until 2016; he would develop his unique and impressive style both in and out of the ring during this time. McGregor eventually take on Jose Also, who was 25-1 as a professional and was never knocked out and McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds. This was huge for Conor and while his personality and style made him a star prior to this fight, this fight solidified it amongst mma purists, some who had still doubted him.
Finally…..How the hell did the paths of the two men come to cross? First of all, they are clearly far and away the two biggest box office draws of any fighter in their respective sports, by far, despite the fact that Mayweather has been retired for 2 years.
McGregor appeared on the Conan O’Brien show and answering a question from Conan, he answered, “If your asking would I like to fight Floyd, I mean, who would not like to dance around the ring of $180 million? No one took it seriously, at all as a realistic option at the time.
It seemed like a bunch of nonsense for 2 marketing geniuses in their respective sports to just get extra media attention. When McGregor acquired his boxing license in California, people thought it was interesting, but still never believed it. Mayweather and McGregor started a social media battle, which most people felt was just both of them still trying to keep their names in the news.
Two years of what seemed like a ridiculous social media battle, ensued, but it just wasn’t a realistic fight. No one thought any legitimate boxing commission would approve a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather who is 49-0 and a UFC champion who never fought in a professional boxing match. What the public didn’t know was that there were negotiations going on behind closed doors.
“Love him or hate him, you have to watch him,” “He was right about what he was going to do – tenfold. I never imagined the amount of money he’s generated. He’s carried the sport on his back, and it’s been one of the great rides in the history of the sport.” This is what Showtime’s Greenburg said about Mayweather back in the day, but you can easily mistake it for a Dana White quote about McGregor now.
Fter avenging his 3rd loss in a 2nr war with Nate Diaz, fighting way over his natural weight class, McGregor knocked out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 he became the first fighter in UFC history to hold belts in 2 different weight classes. From seeming like a joke, once McGregor resolved his issues with Dana White and the UFC, the negotiations and fight with FLoyd came together fast. No one denies that McGregor is fearless and it’s pretty clear Floyd and the “Money Team” were a lot easier in negotiations for this fight than a fight like the Pacquaio fight, because Floyd and his team….. while they are selling the fight as a good competitive fight see it as very easy money. In a real fight with real fighters who can punch, anyone has a punchers chance, however, all the smart money is on “Money Mayweather”. Both fighters and teams will laugh all the way to the bank, but hopefully it will be entertaining and not at the fans expense.