Floyd Mayweather hyping fight up by talking himself down

Photo by: KGC-125/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 7/13/17 Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor at the Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor World Press Tour in New York City.
(Photo by KGC-125/STAR MAX/IPx)

Despite many personal flaws, Floyd Mayweather has been one of the hardest-working fighters in the history of his sport. Confident in his defensive methods, he has carried a perfect record well into his 40s without much issue. He masterfully embodies the notion of refusing to lose, doing everything in his power to prevent anyone from taking victory away from him.

He has also been one of the industry’s best promoters, talking (and fighting) his way to eight-figure paydays on a regular basis, with a lone nine-figure night sprinkled over his fighting career.

A majority of Mayweather’s promotional career has featured the brash competitor selling himself as an unbeatable boxer, looking into the eyes of some of the sport’s most elite fighters before uttering a slight variation of the same message: “You can’t beat me.” 

That was the case for each of the biggest fights of Mayweather’s career, including matchups with Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and, eventually, Manny Pacquiao. He was right, too, stifling all of those upper-echelon strikers over the course of 12 rounds (or in Hatton’s case, 9.5).

He has made hundreds of millions of dollars by promoting himself as the greatest fighter of all time, and then greatly outclassing the 47 fighters (49-0, defeating Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana twice) who tried to strip him of his unblemished fighting legacy. Mayweather is truly unrivaled. He never had much restraint in expressing it, either.

This time, Mayweather has taken a different approach to selling what may become the biggest fight of his career. Two years removed from earning win No. 49, Mayweather is altering his course of action. Even the less-than-avid fans of the sport should understand the likelihood of Mayweather stretching his record to 50-0 on Aug. 26 against Conor McGregor — the UFC lightweight champion who has never taken an amateur boxing bout, much less a professional one.

There’s little reason to believe McGregor has any chance in shocking the world at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, no matter how confident the Irishman may genuinely be in the ring later this month.

Unless, that is, Mayweather himself tells you to believe.

“He’s a lot younger,” Mayweather said of McGregor in an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. “When you look at myself and Conor McGregor on paper, he’s taller, has a longer reach, he’s a bigger man from top to bottom. He’s a lot younger, so youth is on his side. And I’ve been off a couple of years. And I’m in my 40s. So, if you look at everything on paper, it leans toward Conor McGregor.”

Paper, of course, would also state that Mayweather (49-0) is stepping into the ring with McGregor (0-0). That’s as much as anybody needs to understand when forming a prediction for this bout. Logical predictions be damned, this fight is going to sell and it’s going to sell big.

Some will tune in to watch McGregor eat a loss. A majority of the viewing audience, currently given an over-under of a would-be record-breaking 4.99 million pay-per-view buys by Bovada, will purchase the fight hoping to witness the Irishman catch lightning in a bottle.

Mayweather, being the marketing genius he has been for a majority of his professional fighting career, is here to convince you the odds of that happening are greater than you may otherwise believe.

“I’m not the same fighter I was two years ago. I’m not the same fighter I was five years ago. I lost a step,” Mayweather said. “A fighter like Andre Berto isn’t even supposed to go the distance with Floyd Mayweather, but remember, I was 38. It’s obvious I’m slipping a little bit to even let a fighter like that go the distance with me.

“I’m not what I used to be.”

Mayweather may be speaking the truth here, but he’s also exaggerating how impactful these truths will be on fight night. He’s still a far superior fighter to McGregor within the confines of professional boxing, and should have little trouble in handing the UFC superstar an L in his boxing debut.

That’s what makes this such an ironic event to promote.

A majority of the biggest nights in combat sports history reached unforeseen heights because of the mystery involved: two fighters stepping into an arena, both believing themselves to be the better fighter, all while the audience is split on who will come out on top, prompting them to tune in.

Mayweather vs. McGregor has been stripped of that, left with nothing more than spectacle to sell this fight. While spectacle alone will likely bring this bout to the two-million PPV buys threshold, promoting it as a true “contest” will bring it along even further.

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