Big fight fever will strike Cayman on Saturday, when several local bars will feature the Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor super-fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fight represents a collision between the two main combat sports – boxing and mixed martial arts – and brings a pair of charismatic champions face-to-face with their legacies on the line.
Mayweather, a champion in five different weight classes, came out of retirement to take this fight, and he can improve his record to 50-0 by beating McGregor. Forbes reported last month that Mayweather can push his career earnings over $1 billion with a stellar payday in this bout.
His opponent, meanwhile, is making one of the great leaps in sporting history. McGregor is 21-3 and a reigning lightweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but he’s never boxed a round professionally and will not have his arsenal of kicks and jiujitsu holds to use against Mayweather.
This is the first massive payday for McGregor, 29, who has previously proven himself as a huge draw on UFC cards. McGregor has fought in the main event in four out of the UFC’s top six highest-selling pay-per-view shows, and his biggest payday was reportedly $3 million for UFC 202 in 2016.
The Crumlin, Ireland, native is an inch taller and boasts a two-inch reach advantage (74 inches to 72 inches) over Mayweather, and he’s also more accustomed to fighting at 154 pounds. Mayweather has fought at more than 150 pounds just three times in his career, but he earned decisions against three world champions – Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – at that weight.
Mayweather, 40, retired in 2007 to focus on building a promotional company, but he returned to fight again just 21 months later. He retired once more after a one-sided victory against former champion Andre Berto in September 2015, but the lure of a massive payday brought him back to the ring.
The former Olympic bronze medalist set pay-per-view records in his 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao, a bout that drew 4.6 million buyers and more than $400 million in revenue.
The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper based in London, estimates that Mayweather can earn as much as $230 million and McGregor $70 million if it hits all of its expected targets in pay-per-view buys.
Dana White, the president of UFC, said last week that the Mayweather-McGregor fight is on pace to rack up 4.9 million purchases on pay-per-view, which would set a new all-time record. There’s a chance the fight could also make an additional $70 million in ticket sales, which would set another record.
Mayweather appears to be a massive favorite in most of the Las Vegas betting parlors.
Will it be competitive? Nobody knows. Mayweather has been knocked down just once in his career, and that was a staggering glove-touch to the canvas against Carlos Hernandez in 2001. Mayweather won a unanimous decision in that fight and has rarely even been in trouble over his last 23 bouts.
But if he’s rarely been in trouble, it must also be said that he’s run into a bit of a knockout drought. Mayweather had 24 knockouts in his first 35 fights, but he’s had only two in his last 14.
McGregor, meanwhile, has lost three times by submission in his own discipline, twice by choke and once under threat of a kneebar. He will not have to worry about anything except Mayweather’s fists and superior technique on Saturday, but those twin elements may be too much for him to handle.
Both sides will have their share of fanatical backers, with MMA fans hoping for a win that will legitimize their sport and boxing fans begging for a return to prominence for the sweet science.
McGregor has won the prefight press conference rounds, but now he has to let his fists do the rest of the talking.
(Fearless prediction: Mayweather dominates and knocks out McGregor late in the fight.)