Money Comes Out On Top

Alex McNicoll, Sports Editor

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Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Conor McGregor’s celebrity showdown was the peak of a rapidly-changing boxing culture that is selling the sweet science for as much cash as it can. With a pay-per-view cost of $99.95, the fight, which could hardly be called a boxing match, pulled in over $400 million on TV revenue alone.

Boxing has always earned the most money from the most outspoken and polarizing athletes in the sports world. From Muhammad Ali’s biting poems to Mike Tyson’s vicious bite of Evander Holyfield’s ear in the ring, no fan ever really knows what to expect when they pay to watch a fight, and that might just be the reason they pay so much. However, in all of boxing, no one has embraced the money as much as Mayweather has.

Mayweather’s career earnings, which top $1 billion, support his lavish lifestyle, which includes never wearing the same underwear or socks twice. In boxing, the biggest personalities always seem to match their play with their mouths.

In the fighting world, Mayweather is hailed as a defensive genius and arguably the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time. He has a flawless 50–0 (27 KOs) record over a career of more than 20 years. His strategy is unbeatable, as he tires his opponents out with his defensive prowess in the opening rounds, eventually finishing them off with brutal punches at the end.

Then came Conor McGregor. As the face of Ultimate Fight Club, he terrorizes opponents with a combination of elbows and kicks. Most notably, he needed just 13 seconds to finish off Jose Aldo in a title match. Additionally, like all the great fighters before him, McGregor matches his fighting with his silver tongue, which is potent, humiliating and, for better or for worse, can revive careers from retirement.

After months of taunting 40-year-old Mayweather to come out of retirement and face him in the ring, 29-year-old McGregor was finally successful when he promised the one thing “Money” can never seem to resist: a nine-figure check.

As soon as the fight was announced, many argued that it was more of a celebrity stunt than a real boxing match. Despite an 11-year age advantage on Mayweather, McGregor was facing off against one of the greatest to ever box while having never done so himself. McGregor’s skinny frame and inexperience in the ring were too much of a deterrent for boxing connoisseurs, such as legend Oscar De La Hoya, to take the match seriously.

“I thought it was a fraud,” De La Hoya said on ESPN’s First Take. “Only Mayweather knows why it lasted 10 rounds.”

McGregor challenging Mayweather to a fight is somewhat like Michael Phelps challenging Usain Bolt to a race, but unlike racing, boxing and its promoters have always benefited most from sensational stories. Few could resist the two biggest names in professional fighting taking each other on in an unprecedented event.

Mayweather recorded a technical knockout on McGregor in the 10th round. McGregor will at least quadruple his net worth, as his $34 million UFC career earnings are dwarfed by the reported $70 million paycheck he will receive for his match against Mayweather.

Additionally, no one benefitted more than the UFC itself, which was able to catapult itself and its biggest star into the limelight. While I didn’t pay to watch the match, I, along with many others, now know who McGregor is and am eagerly waiting to see what he does next.

Mayweather, on the other hand, remains undefeated and can enjoy the reported $234 million paycheck he received just to fight one last time. In the end, Mayweather won, but it seems everyone got the check they wanted, and that is the unfortunate direction in which professional fighting is headed.

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