Mayweather-McGregor: Revisiting The 2016 Presidential Race Through The Square-Circle
Mayweather-McGregor Is To Boxing What the 2016 Presidential Race Was To Politics
It’s not often you’ll find me writing a story filed under “Sports.” The only two sports I really enjoy are soccer (go Arsenal!) and boxing, and rarely do either sport cross into the realm of politics. But there’s a much-hyped boxing match exploding across social media right now — the upcoming Mayweather-McGregor fight — that takes me right back into the thick of the 2016 presidential race. And it has me wondering if perhaps we boxing fans are in for a depressing surprise when the fight takes place on August 26th.
For those of you who don’t pay attention to the boxing world or don’t care, let me take a moment to fill you in on what’s happening.
Floyd Mayweather is a stellar boxer with an incredible record of 49 wins and zero losses. He is, by most standards, the best boxer around today. Mayweather is lauded for his impeccable defensive work, blistering speed, and laser-like accuracy. And chances are, you hate his guts, because if there’s one thing you know about Floyd Mayweather, apart from the fact that he’s a talented boxer, it’s probably that he’s a terrible person.
Meanwhile his opponent, Conor McGregor, has a significantly less impressive boxing record of zero wins and zero losses. That’s because he’s not really a professional boxer. You’re probably thinking “wait… why is this guy fighting the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world today? What qualifications does this guy have for this fight?” The answer is that Conor McGregor is actually a celebrated UFC fighter. Well, as celebrated as one can possibly become in a sports league founded in 1993, that is. And like his boxing counterpart, Conor McGregor is brash, loudmouthed, and annoying… at least when the cameras are on.
So what is Mayweather-McGregor? It’s a fight between two unpopular sports figures, one of whom rightly has no place stepping into the ring at all. However the fight ends, half of the world is going to be upset and the other half will feel vindicated. And if you’re someone who closely follows politics like me, this fight is probably starting to sound eerily familiar.
Mayweather-McGregor And Clinton-Trump: Two Battles That Never Should’ve Happened To Begin With
For you politicos reading this, you’re probably already seeing the parallels between Mayweather-McGregor and the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton was a storied and experienced politician with a lengthy career. Donald Trump was a newcomer to the political “ring” and shouldn’t have had any hope in Hell of ever defeating her.
Neither candidate was particularly popular; in fact, they were the two most unpopular candidates in American history. Most Americans probably didn’t want either of them to win, but a majority of Americans — 2.8 million more, in fact — voted for Clinton, because at least she had experience. At least she knew what she was doing. At least she actually belonged in the political ring to begin with.
Unlike so many other political writers, I was never entirely sold on Hillary Clinton beating Trump. I was a devotee of Bernie Sanders during the primaries, and I felt… no, I knew… that he had a better shot at defeating Trump than she did on her very best day. And the closer to election day we got, the more concerned I grew that Clinton was heading toward a narrow loss. But a part of me still believed she’d somehow pull through, because come on, she’s Hillary Clinton, and her opponent? Donald Trump? Who in their right mind would want to vote for that nincompoop?
My brain knew she would lose, or in the very least that the race would be too close for comfort. But my heart was holding onto a string of faith that she’d triumph. I may not be Clinton’s biggest fan — I still maintain that Bernie Sanders would have made a far better President than her — but you’d quite frankly be insane to assume she’d do a worse job than Donald Trump, and I think it’s safe to say hindsight proves that daily, if not hourly, today.
Is Floyd Mayweather A Lock? Or Should We Approach The Mayweather-McGregor Fight With Caution?
Admittedly, I’m a lot more confident of Floyd Mayweather’s win than I ever was of Hillary Clinton’s. In fact, I probably feel like so many of my friends in the political world did, who believed Clinton was a lock. I’m not the sort of person who gambles on sporting events. But if I did, I wouldn’t think twice about where my money would go.
Love him or hate him, Floyd Mayweather is without question an incredibly gifted boxer. He’s extremely experienced in the ring, with defensive and counter-punching capabilities oozing with accuracy and finesse. Win, lose, or draw, Mayweather is going into the annals of history as one of the sport’s very best talents.
Conor McGregor is a talented UFC fighter, but he’s never fought in a professional boxing match. Mayweather, whose fights often go a full 12 rounds at three minutes a pop, will be facing off against someone who has never stayed in a professional UFC fight for anything close to 48 whole minutes. This fight is happening under boxing rules, so that means McGregor will be in unfamiliar territory, facing off against an opponent for whom the fabled squared-circle of a boxing ring is a second home. And any devout boxing fan will be very quick to tell you that yes, understanding the ring and respecting its physical space matters. It matters a lot.
So what does Conor McGregor have? For his fans, the answer is raw power. Their logic goes that McGregor, who is 12 years younger than his opponent, will fight more brutally and ferociously than anyone Mayweather has faced in the past. Mayweather has experience and stamina, but McGregor comes from the more brutal world of UFC, which is thumb wrestling to boxing’s chess. The belief amongst those rooting for McGregor is that the Irish UFC champion will overpower and knockout Mayweather.
Of course, if you’ve followed Mayweather’s career, you’ll know he’s faced power punchers before. We’ve heard these sorts of predictions in the past, and they never play out the way people hope they will. Those power punchers had more ring experience than McGregor, too; apart from sparring, he’s never been inside a boxing ring, and I can’t stress enough just how different the sports of boxing and MMA/ UFC are. We’re talking apples and doughnuts here.
But the parallels between this fight and the one we just watched in November between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are giving me pause. Sure, Conor McGregor lacks any semblance of boxing experience. Yes, it’s true that Floyd Mayweather will win that fight easily in every dimension of the multiverse, and it’s not worth ordering Pay-Per-View over. But so many people were all too sure of Hillary Clinton. And unfortunately, Donald Trump is sitting in the White House today, rubbing his tiny spray-tanned fingers together while contemplating how best to screw over the environment, the American people, and the world itself.
One thing we can be sure of is that this fight will be as terrible for the sport of boxing as the 2016 presidential race was for the “sport” of politics. Mayweather and McGregor will both get their ludicrous paydays. But win, lose, or draw, the fight will be a stain on both of their storied careers. And if most of the public had it their way, this fight would never take place to begin with. There are better opponents in their respective fields both Mayweather the boxer and McGregor the mixed martial artist should be facing. This fight shouldn’t be happening. And likewise, while I don’t have hard numbers to back this up, I think it’s safe to say most Americans didn’t want Clinton and Trump to face off, either. That’s evidenced at least partially by the record-low voter turnout in November and the wild unfavorability of both candidates.
Regardless of who wins on August 26th, the sport of boxing itself is going to suffer, and to some vastly lesser extent, so too will the UFC world. It’s the same as what we saw with the 2016 presidential race — an ugly and divisive primary season leading up to a depressing general election match-up most of us never wanted. So when it comes to the Mayweather-McGregor fight, I can safely say this is one I’m going to skip. Because regardless of who wins, boxing fans will lose. And didn’t we already live through this hot mess in November?
Featured image courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images
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