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Mayweather vs. McGregor: Why do we keep buying empty hype?

On Life

Ruminations and provocations.

Mayweather vs. McGregor: Why do we keep buying empty hype?

Stephen H. Provost

Hype sells. And we keep buying it (then demanding our money back when we don’t get what was promised).

But I’m here to tell you, caveat emptor, baby!

Let the buyer beware. To those of you willing to plunk down $100, or whatever they end up charging, for a farce of a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, be my guest. But don’t say you weren’t warned.

The whole premise of this fight doesn’t involve fists, but mouths. Mayweather has a big one, and a lot of people want to see someone shut it. McGregor has a big one, too, and some other people would love to see … well, you get the idea.

What you’re more likely to see is, well, a whole bunch of nothing. Mayweather isn’t known for shutting people’s mouths. He’s known for avoiding punches, playing pitter-pat with his jab and piling up enough points to win the kind of decision that leaves fight fans disappointed and disgusted at themselves for wasting their money.

Mayweather has knocked out barely half his opponents and hasn’t KO’d anyone out in almost six years. But he’s never lost.

McGregor lost barely a year ago in a mixed martial arts fight to Nate Diaz. That fight didn’t go the distance, and although McGregor won the rematch, but only by a majority decision in an extremely close contest.

So what makes Mayweather-McGregor a fight worth seeing?

I honestly don’t know. You tell me.

In his most famous fight (and the biggest money-maker of all time), Mayweather danced around for 12 rounds and won a decision against Manny Pacquiao in a lackluster fight that left boxing fans frustrated that they’d paid big money to be bored stiff.

There’s nothing to suggest the same thing won’t happen this time. McGregor, much like Pacquiao, will probably stalk Mayweather, who will dance away, land jabs and flurries of light punches, make McGregor look like an amateur and walk away with win No. 50.

There’s no title at stake, but there’s precedent for this sort of spectacle.

In 1976, Muhammad Ali fought a sumo wrestler named Antonio Inoki in a boxing-wrestling hybrid match. Inoki spent most of the time on his back, kicking at Ali’s legs. Ali's incentive? As with Mayweather, it was all about the Benjamins: in this case a $6 million payday.

Three years later, Ali took on Denver Broncos defensive end Lyle Alzado in an exhibition match that was all boxing. Alzado, who had boxed as an amateur, was threatening to leave pro football and devote himself to the ring full time (it was, mainly, a stunt designed to get him a better contract).

Alzado actually put on a somewhat credible performance. But the fight, such as it was, turned out to be better than expected largely because Ali was out of shape and didn’t seem to take it seriously. He still managed to win the unofficial decision after eight rounds.

Ali was officially retired at the time, and when he came out of retirement later, he was a shadow of the champion he had once been.

That’s about the only hope McGregor has of winning a fight against Mayweather: that the guy who calls himself "Money" has deteriorated to such a degree that McGregor has a puncher's chance of winning.

It's a slim chance. But hype is built on such slim chances, especially when a white guy is stepping into the ring to challenge a less-than-popular African-American champion. Yes, I’ll say it: This is another one of those “great white hope” boondoggles that goes all the way back to Johnson vs. Jefferies and has a not-so-illustrious timeline that extends right on up through Holmes-Cooney.

At least Jefferies and Cooney were actual boxers.

Racial overtones aside, it seems farfetched (to put it mildly) to think that a guy from a different sport can waltz into the ring and beat a heretofore undefeated boxer. I just don’t buy it. And if you do, feel free to complain all you want when the fight turns out to be a predictable yawner. Just don’t expect me to listen.