It's true we are about to witness the biggest event in the history of combat sports. But deep in Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor also lies the riskiest bout in boxing history. Rarely does it happen that two very distinct sports organizations come together as one to host and promote an event that pits both organizations against each other. The UFC and the world of professional boxing will no doubt earn huge money, as it always does with grand PPV (pay-per-view) events like this, but in the process it’s placing professional boxing in peril.
If Mayweather vs. McGregor fails to astonish, both professional boxing and MMA could lose respect within their internal structures and their respective fanbase. On the other hand, if the fight exceeds expectations, then more fights between MMA athletes and boxers could happen, taking emphasis away from the individual sports themselves. Indeed, while Mayweather vs. McGregor is a fight we’re all dying to see, the risk of presenting such an event is high for both boxing and MMA. But professional boxing has more to lose than the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
This is what needs to happen in Mayweather vs. McGregor in order to minimize the risk.
The Danger Of Mayweather Vs. McGregor
We can all agree that the last time the world received the greatest match in combat sports history, it was a disappointment. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao was a dull fight that left many fans of professional boxing looking the other way into the UFC. While boxing reached its lowest viewership, MMA and the UFC were at their high, and #ConorMcGregor was leading the hype.
Certainly, Mayweather vs. McGregor stands as pro boxing’s last resort to once again rise back to the top. It is undoubtedly a sport that, though vastly entertaining, is losing traction due to its inability to engage an audience. And the risk is higher than ever now that boxing’s greatest name is facing the competition’s greatest personality. If #FloydMayweather loses this fight, it will surely commence the end of boxing itself. I admit, it sounds overly dramatic, but pro boxing personality Oscar de la Hoya said so himself:
"Boxing is starting to dig out of the hole that Floyd and Manny Pacquiao shoveled by waiting seven years to put on a fight that ended up being as dull as it was anti-climactic... But if you thought Mayweather/Pacquiao was a black eye for our sport...just wait until the best boxer of a generation dismantles someone who has never boxed competitively at any level – amateur or professional. Our sport might not ever recover."
If Mayweather vs. McGregor is anything close to what we saw in Mayweather Jr.'s match against #MannyPacquiao, then the result will be a rise of dispirited boxing fans and an industry walking to an eventual collapse. The fight itself would serve the interest of McGregor and MMA, and I wouldn't be surprised if UFC viewership increased by the millions afterwards. UFC viewership will eventually rise with the promotion already surrounding the fight, but if Mayweather vs. McGregor turns out to be as boring as 2015's "Event of the Year," then be prepared to see the UFC as the undisputed leader in the world of combat sports. It's scary, but there's another side to the coin that's just as bad.
The Rise Of The Crossover Event
Let's say Mayweather vs. McGregor is the best fight of the decade. That it's so good it manages to earn over $1 billion worldwide, as it's estimated to do according to Deadline. From a financial perspective, what could be the next best thing to do? What about if we get (recently stripped) #UFC Light Heavyweight champ Jon Jones to fight Andre Ward, who's currently considered the world's best pound for pound active boxer by The Ring magazine? Not a bad idea, right? Except it is a bad idea, but this is the kind of ideas the UFC and pro boxing executives will have.
We are looking at the rise of UFC/boxing crossovers as huge PPV events and the demise of boxer v. boxer bouts entirely. The problem is not that crossover events are bad (they've happened before), it's that Mayweather vs. McGregor is so hyped up, it has the potential of changing the entire #combatsports paradigm forever. Depending on your interest in boxing, this could either be a good thing or a bad thing, but take it from a fan of both boxing and MMA, it's not looking good for the folks with the big gloves. There's so much money involved in Mayweather vs. McGregor that if the event is massively successful, another crossover with #MMA is destined to happen, much sooner than later.
Mayweather Jr. revealed n an interview with Jimmy Kimmel that he's receiving up to $350 million (maybe more). Now, Andre Ward is no Mayweather Jr., but say he goes up against Jon Jones, cash numbers akin to $350 million are definitely going to be discussed. All of a sudden, boxers and UFC fighters are only going to look forward to the crossover event and decline a match for anything less. So how can pro #boxing be saved while the biggest combat sports crossover event of the year transpires?
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Must Win By KO
Unfortunately, Conor McGregor must lose this fight. Despite this, Mayweather Jr. can't win by TKO and he most definitely can't win by decision like he did against Pacquiao. As much as this is a money fight, there's so much on the line for the pro boxing industry that Mayweather Jr. can't afford to lose. The fight can't go all 12 rounds, but Mayweather Jr. must knock out McGregor in less than five rounds. This will definitely be Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s most important and difficult fight of his career. McGregor won't go down easily. This is why #MayweathervsMcGregor is the riskiest boxing match in the history of boxing, because if the greatest boxer of this generation loses to an MMA fighter or overly delights the masses with a win, pro boxing will never be the same.
Watch Mayweather vs. McGregor this Saturday, August 26.
You can purchase tickets for the live Fathom Events stream at AMC Theaters here.