After it was finally announced that Floyd Mayweather would end his retirement and return to the boxing ring to face Conor McGregor on Aug. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, not only did fans rejoice, the critics also came out of the woodwork to bash the scheduled fight.
While it’s understandable the fight is being met with some resistance by even the most hardcore boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, at the end of the day, it all boils down to two people punching each other in the face.
That’s the stance Stephen Espinoza — Showtime sports executive vice president — is taking, appearing on a recent edition of “The MMA Hour” to tell critics that they shouldn’t get on their high horse too much and talk about the lack of purism or integrity surrounding the fight (largely due to this), because at the end of the day they have been (and will continue to) tuning into watch people hit each other in the face.
“I understand there is some questions because we’ve never really seen Conor participate in straight boxing, but who knows when that was, how that was and whether that’s representative of his actual skill level,” Espinoza said. “But, the one thing that we can say is that we just don’t know how it’s going to play out and that in itself I understand that people think its a flaw. But, stepping back for a moment, you take your combat sports very seriously as do I, but we are talking about grown men and women punching each other in the ring for money So, let’s not get too much on our high horse about purism.”
Furthermore, Espinoza reminds everyone that as talented as Mayweather is, it’s no secret that fight fans don’t tune in specifically to see Mayweather knockout people, but rather, they tune in to see the spectacle that comes with a “Money”- led event.
“It is a spectacle, just like Mayweather fights. Those who have been watching Mayweather fights closely, you know you’re not going to get a knockout fest, you’ve known that. You come to see Mayweather because of the spectacle, because of the drama that comes with the size of the event,” Espinoza added.
So when you add someone like Conor McGregor — who is arguably the best self-promoter and biggest star in all of MMA — the spectacle gets that much bigger.
“Now you have doubled that, actually increased it exponentially here. Is it going to be the best fight? I don’t think anyone can say, ‘no.’ The best you can say is, ‘I don’t know.’ In combat sports, so often what we think we know we don’t know,” he concluded.
Many have predicted that the upcoming mega fight will surpass the pay-per-view (PPV) sale record of 4.4 million set by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao back in 2015. And when you have two great fighters, business men and perhaps more important — trash talkers — like Mayweather and McGregor, anything’s possible.