Scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 26th, it has brought one of the best in boxing out of retirement, to face off against one of the best active fighters in the UFC.
The event will be an undeniably large payday for both men, especially Floyd Money Mayweather, who with this fight, may top $1 billion in career earnings.
To promote the big night, the fighters attended a four-city publicity tour, which stopped in Los Angeles, Toronto and New York before ending in London. Overall, it was a strange sad spectacle in the world of professional fighting.
The press tour was a scary example of what modern athletes will do for money. It exposed, in dramatic fashion, the negative impact the business of sports on fighters like Mayweather and MacGregor. Subsequently, it also discredits the seriousness of regulating bodies like the World Boxing Council, the organization commissioning the fight.
Before moving any farther, let me be clear about one thing. There is no doubting the skill of either fighter.
Mayweather is undefeated in his professional career. He carries a record of 49-0, is a defensive specialist, and is considered one of the best boxers ever. McGregor carries a record of 21-3 and has held UFC belts in multiple weight classes at the same time. These guys are superhuman in their skill sets.
But in addition to their undeniable legacies, the fighters have also adopted similar promotional characteristics, perfect molds of what the industry prefers. They are known for flash, style, and egocentricity, bona fide experts in the field of trash talk. They consistently bring crowds, demand large purses and drive huge PPV revenues.
The popularity of these men, as well as the business value they drive for their respective sports, is tied not only to their skill, but also to their showmanship.
In truth, this is nothing new. In the business of sports, we prefer athletes and team that incite drama and raise tension. We like rooting for the underdog and seeing the bad guys lose. And nothing excites us more than a good old-fashioned showdown between good and evil.
Look, that's all fine and dandy. There is nothing wrong with a little showmanship.
However, Mayweather and McGregor aren't solely to blame for the ticket driving, aggression-filled publicity tour. They are simply talented fighters entrenched in a system that feeds off terrible sportsmanship and desperately wants them to become more like Hulk Hogan than Royce Gracie.
At their essence, Mayweather and Macgregor are fighters. That is what they do. They have trained for most of their lives to be deemed professionals inside a ring. And they have accomplished that goal with flying colors.
But...they did not set out to be actors, promoters or showman. (At least initially) And sadly, that is what they have either chosen, or been forced, to become.
Professional athletes of today live in a complex world. They are judged not only by their athletic skill, but also by the dollars produced from their personal brand. They are expected to not only rack up touchdowns but also sell jerseys and bobble heads.
And in the case of fighters like Mayweather and McGregor, they must stack up TKO's while also hitting revenue benchmarks for the UFC, WBO, and Pay Per View. Clearly, the line between the business of sports, athletes, and the value of their personal brands, has never been more intertwined.
It's no wonder that in the most self-obsessed, self-aggrandizing period in history, many of our greatest athletes are indeed carrying the torch of their own self-importance on the way to bigger stadiums, larger contracts, and better endorsement deals.