What, you have to ask yourself, was going through Floyd Mayweather’s mind when he laid his cards on the table and asked for a $100 million purse to take on cage fighter Connor McGregor?
The trash-talking Irishman, noted for his extravagant lifestyle – something he shares with Mayweather – would get a $15 million payday.
At first glance, it has all the hallmarks of a no-win situation for everyone but Mayweather and, to a greatly reduced case, to McGregor.
Should the already superrich American win any socalled contest under whatever admix of rules, cage fighting climbs back into the shadows where it rightly belongs. Should McGregor take down the man rated boxing’s richest – his personal net worth in estimated at $340 million – the professional ring will suffer a bigger blow that the upsurge of mixed martial arts has ever delivered.
The question is whether either side of this flawed equation can afford the risks inherent in being aligned to a gimmick promotion. The answers are cloudy at best.
Mayweather, who shares an unbeaten 49-fight professional record with former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, is 39 and, despite his ring brilliance, is no Muhammad Ali.
Mayweather’s May 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao crushed multiple boxing financial records, including 4.6 million pay per view buys, $73 million in total gate and $13 million in sponsorships.
The fight grossed more than $600 million and was the highest-grossing, single-day sporting event yet. Ironically, it was the mesmeric Ali who quite literally set the debate on pugilism versus the martial arts rolling in 1976.
Ali characteristically bragged to Ichiro Hatta, president of the Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association: “Isn’t there any Oriental fighter who will challenge me? I’ll give him one million dollars if he wins.”
The result was a spectacle of the absurd as Ali took on Antonio Inoki in Tokyo on June 26, 1976, over 15 rounds under special rules. Ali prowled looking for an opening that never came as Inoki spent his time on his back kicking at Ali’s legs.
The result was lamely announced as a draw.
Nobody won that one. Nobody is likely to win the next.