Even if you don’t follow boxing, mixed martial arts, or pay any attention whatsoever to the world of sports, chances are that you are aware of a pretty big fight happening this weekend. Floyd Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers of our generation, undefeated in 49 matches, is coming out of retirement to fight Conor McGregor, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion and former featherweight champion. Not a professional boxer, McGregor is currently the biggest name in MMA, fighting in the main event at four of the six highest selling fights in the sports history.
Mayweather is expected to earn at least $100 million dollars, with a chance to earn up to four times that depending on pay per view sales. McGregor should earn at least $75 million dollars. I’m a fan of both boxing and MMA, having bought fights in both sports multiple times in the past, including ones that have featured these two guys. Neither will be earning a penny from me this weekend.
Critics may call it a cop-out, an inability or refusal to take a side, but I’ve always seen the world in shades of grey. Very rarely is any situation as black and white as it may outwardly appear. I like to think of it as a reasonable and realistic point of view that I wish more politicians and people of influence would embrace.
It’s part of the appeal of sports. While watching a sporting contest, you simply pick a player or team, sometimes for the silliest of reasons and sit back and enjoy.
The real world doesn’t work like that. I can be outraged by the footage of Philando Castile’s death and also the murders of the Dallas policemen. I can agree with what Black Lives Matter is trying to accomplish while not condoning violent protest or the obstruction of federal highways. White supremacy groups are an embarrassment to the American ideal and should be condemned loudly and publicly by any elected official that claims to represent those ideals. Also despicable are the actions of the various Anitifa offshoots, the anarchists responsible for much of the looting and rioting after the inauguration of Donald Trump. As pitiful as I find our President’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, there is no denying that there actually were some “very bad people” on both sides of the confrontation.
I don’t want these shades of grey in sports. I want somebody that I can cheer for and I can’t swallow my bile and celebrate the victory of either of these two.
Floyd Mayweather is a beater of women. He has multiple arrests for assaulting the mothers of his children and women in Las Vegas nightclubs, though to date has only served sixty days in jail. He’s remained unrepentant, refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing despite the frequency of these allegations since 2002.
Conor McGregor is a racist. Throughout his career he has been known to use racial slurs as a way to antagonize his black and hispanic opponents, calling them “dancing monkeys” and worse. During the lead up to this fight he has repeatedly referred to Mayweather as “boy.”
Pre-fight press conferences have been cringe worthy exercises in toxic masculinity, both sides using homophobic slurs, bigotry and intolerance to hype an event that will bear little resemblance to a competitive match, McGregor having never boxed professionally. This isn’t sport, it’s greed driven spectacle, the only real competition regarding which fighter will be willing to act more publicly crass.
Despite their enhanced physical abilities, professional athletes are just as fallible as the rest of us, emulation a road to eventual disappointment. We ignore these character defects for the sake of entertainment and diversion, but what happens when these flaws become part of the show, the main source of attraction?
I won’t be around to find out. I need somebody to cheer for, a reason to watch. I need my sports to be metaphorically black and white, not used as a tactic to sell tickets.