Moment of truth for the lie

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ED C. TOLENTINO

Rocky Marciano Jr., the son of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, just took a swipe at Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s upcoming attempt to break his father’s immaculate 49-0 mark in boxing. The younger Marciano Jr. argued that Mayweather’s upcoming showdown with mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor should not be counted as an official match as it is nothing more than an exhibition.

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Marciano Jr. has a point, but the fact remains that Mayweather (49-0, 26 knockouts) will improve to 50-0 if he beats McGregor. Numbers are deceptive in pro boxing and the uninitiated fan can easily be misled. With so many bogus boxing organizations and titles, it is so easy for a fighter to be a “multi-division” world champ these days. Patsies proliferate and it has become a habit for world champions to ditch legitimate contenders for trialhorses to pad their “unbeaten” record.

From the time their matchup was announced, Mayweather and McGregor have been doing their best to sell their showdown as a legitimate contest. Any semblance of legitimacy was however lost when the organizers stated that the match will strictly follow boxing rules. While an established champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), McGregor is 0-0 in pro boxing.

Respected boxing champions like former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis and reigning middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin didn’t mince a word in calling the contest a farce. Many fans also got turned off and this translated to anemic ticket sales. Desperate to sell the fight, a short video clip of McGregor “knocking down” former world champ Paulie Malig­naggi in a sparring session was released to the media. Thereafter, reports leaked that Mayweather was allegedly knocked out in a sparring session. Both camps also agreed to use 8-ounce gloves instead of the customary 10-ounce gloves for boxers fighting in the junior middleweight or 154-pound division. Smaller gloves give McGregor a puncher’s chance against Mayweather. McGregor has also been allowed to use the “Superman’s punch,” a popular punching maneu­ver in the UFC which involves bringing the rear leg forward to feign a kick, then snapping the leg back while throwing a cross, resulting in greater power behind the punch. McGregor is reportedly working on a variation of the punch for the Mayweather fight.

Apparently, the machinations worked as the pay-per-view sales of the fight have picked up considerably. Organizers expect the pay-per-view sales to generate around $700 million and surpass the $600 million sales realized by Mayweather’s 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao. As things stand, the Mayweather-McGregor will make money even if several empty seats surface at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas come fight time.

McGregor is coming in with nothing to lose and everything to gain, including a career-high payday. Then again, the UFC stands to suffer if McGregor is humiliated because the latter is the organization’s meal ticket. With so much money to earn, McGregor may never fight again after the Mayweather fight.

Mayweather has more to lose as his unbeaten record and overall legacy are on the line. He will be the laughing stock of the world if he loses to a fighter who has no prior boxing experience. The prevailing notion, however, is that Mayweather knows fully well that it is just another walk in the park.

The circus unfolds this Sunday (Manila time) and the last thing you want is to take it seriously. Look at the pairing as more of a phenomenon than a real fight; just go with it for sheer entertainment value and the world figures to continue spinning after the rosin has settled.

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For comment, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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