The story that will never die reared its ugly head again on Saturday, when Floyd Mayweather announced in England that he is coming out of retirement.
This, of course, is massive news for boxing, given that Mayweather is the greatest boxer of his era and one of the best of all-time. And, being the showman he is, he played it for all it’s worth.
“Everybody get your phone out,” Mayweather says. “Post this to the internet as soon as possible.”
But he’s not coming out to face unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman. Or rising prospect Errol Spence. Or even a super welterweight fight with Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin.
No, Mayweather has set his sights, yet again, on UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
And then he went into a long and tortured explanation of how he, and not McGregor, would be the A-side in the fight. If you’re a boxing fan, it’s familiar talk. He said it all multiple times in the six years that fans were clamoring for him to fight Manny Pacquiao.
“When I faced Arturo Gatti [in 2005 in Atlantic City, N.J.], I went to his turf,” Mayweather said. “He was the A-side. I was the B-side. I beat him. I didn’t cry. I didn’t complain. When I faced Oscar De La Hoya [in Las Vegas in 2007], he was the A-side and I was the B-side. I didn’t cry. I didn’t complain. I beat him and I became the A-side.
“For Conor McGregor, I’m coming out of retirement, just to fight Conor McGregor. I don’t want to hear no more excuses about the money, about the UFC. Sign the paper with the UFC so you can fight me in June. Simple and plain, let’s fight in June. You’re the B-side. I’m the A-side. We’re not here to cry about money. I’m tired of all this crying about money and saying you want to fight. You’re blowing smoke up everyone’s [butt], if you want to fight, sign the paperwork.”
Mayweather went on to describe how he was at home and seeing news reports that McGregor wanted to fight him.
Of course, he threw a little zinger in with it as he told the story.
“I probably had silk pajamas on and they kept saying that, ‘Conor McGregor wants to fight. Conor McGregor wants to fight. Conor McGregor wants to fight,’ ” Mayweather said. “And to be honest, when they kept saying that, I was really like, to be honest, ‘I don’t know who the [expletive] that is.”
Mayweather said two members of his security teams are UFC fans and he had them pull clips of McGregor to fight.
He said he didn’t think McGregor was serious.
“He’s using my name for leverage,” Mayweather said.
That’s true, of course, just as Mayweather, who has been retired since defeating Andre Berto on Sept. 12, 2015, is using McGregor’s name for leverage.
It’s a joke of a fight under any circumstance because they’re different sports. Boxing and MMA are related, just as softball and baseball are related, but it would be unreasonable to expect the best fast-pitch softball hitter in the world to go into Major League Baseball and hit pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.
McGregor has yet to respond, though he took a little shot at Mayweather with a tweet the other day. He posted a photo of one of Mayweather’s ‘The Money Team,’ vans after it was set on fire in England.
— TheMacLife (@Maclifeofficial) March 5, 2017
As for how the fight would play out, most neutral observers think it’s a one-sided bout in favor of Mayweather, given that McGregor has never boxed before, amateur or pro.
But the Irishman did get support from an unexpected place, archrival Nate Diaz. Boxer Andre Ward hosted a show on CSN Bay Area called “The Fight Game,” in which he interviewed Diaz and fellow UFC fighter Gilbert Melendez, and Diaz said McGregor had a chance to win early in a bout.
It wasn’t a full-throated endorsement by any means, but he gave McGregor a shot to win, which is more than most have done.
“I think it is a big publicity stunt, but my take on a boxing match between the two is that McGregor, I think he’s got a good chance to make something happen in the first two or three rounds,” Diaz said. “If anything, two or three rounds. But he’s got an amateur style where he’s only got the good movement, good punches for six, eight minutes. I think that’s too amateur for Mayweather. I’m just saying he’s got a puncher’s chance, if anything.”
Melendez laughed and said, “Yeah, a lucky punch.”
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