The instant a trashy London tabloid broke the “news” that Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather were negotiating the fight of the millennium, anyone with half a brain knew it had zero chance of happening. Nearly two weeks later though, the idea won’t die, and Mayweather recently threw more fuel on the fire by saying McGregor is the only fighter who could lure him out of retirement. Now even those who should know better are considering the possibility.
"I'm pretty sure we're gonna have a master plan to make that fight happen," Mayweather said. "It hasn't happened yet, but we locked down some dates.” He went on to praise McGregor, calling him a “tough competitor” who he couldn’t overlook—exactly the kind of hype you’d expect from him if this thing was actually going to happen.
But it won’t. Despite his beef with Dana White, McGregor remains under contract with the UFC. White is more likely to fight McGregor himself than to let his biggest cash cow get in the ring with Mayweather. And Mayweather would only agree to a fight in the boxing ring, which means MMA is out of the question for the 39-year-old. That’s what you call a serious stalemate.
None of that matters though, because it assumes the fighters themselves want to make the epic boxing vs. MMA smackdown happen—but there’s no way they would ever actually come to an agreement. After all, as White recently pointed out, look how long it took Mayweather to agree to fight Manny Pacquiao, who competes in the same sport?
Let's say, for a moment that McGregor was dumb enough to get into a boxing ring with Mayweather. It would be an absolute massacre, a certain blowout win for the former pound-for-pound king, who isn't fooling anyone when he talks up McGregor's boxing skills. Here's what veteran ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael said about the fantasy matchup: “[Mayweather] would toy with him, humiliate him, make him look worse than a novice amateur and knock him out even though he's not a puncher.”
It would be equally one-sided, but with a different result if these two faced off in the Octagon. McGregor would either kick a hole in Mayweather’s chest or choke him out, and end the fight before breaking a sweat. Or, as ESPN MMA writer Brett Okamoto put it, “McGregor's kickboxing would separate Mayweather from consciousness in a matter of minutes, possibly seconds.”
That’s what makes this discussion so silly. It presumes that these two would actually have a competitive fight because each is great at their own discipline. Essentially, what we’re doing here is debating what would happen if the Warriors played the Broncos. Depending on the sport, one team would murder the other and it wouldn’t be entertaining at all.
So that leaves one question: Why? Why is Mayweather talking about this? Why is McGregor Tweeting bad Photoshops? Why won't this nonsense just die?
From a fan perspective, it's easy. Sports fans love speculating about hypothetical matchups. That's why we spent an entire NBA season debating how a team from 2016 would fare against a team from 1996. The possibility that one of these hypotheticals might become real is too tantalizing to ignore.
Mayweather and McGregor know that and for them, it's all about attention. These two are among the most attention hungry athletes competing today. They live off of the public's obsession with them.
After money and cars, it is their life blood. And neither has a way of organically getting it right now. McGregor played with fire and got torched by Dana White. Mayweather retired and says he’s now content building up his own roster of fighters (though most observers expect him to return to the ring).
No one wants to talk about a fighter with nothing on the horizon and a retired boxer turned promoter. This is their way of changing that.