The circus never came to my town. The clowns never showed up.
The closest thing was an annual church carnival, only Father Faughnan was a crotchety old sort who seemed to make it his life’s work — you know, after daily Mass and hearing confessions and providing spiritual direction — to scare the daylights out of little kids.
My childhood lacked for much lunacy, which is perhaps why the idea of a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight is so fascinating.
Maybe it’s the columnist in me. Chaos is often an uncluttered pathway to creativity.
Well, that and something else.
“You’re an American,” Mark Kriegel said. “It’s the same reason people watched Evil Knievel jump the Snake River. This thing has Star Spangled Banner written all over it from the start. It’s an expression of free enterprise. It’s a hustle, and we know it’s a hustle, and we don’t care. We have a reality television star in the White House. Let’s be honest — we’re a low brow culture. This is Barnum & Bailey.
“What, now we’re going to turn into moralists when it comes to boxing? Come on. Is a fight between Canelo Alvazez and Gennady Golovkin a more worthy event? What the (bleep) does worthy really mean? Boxing purists swallowed Mike Tyson against Peter McNeeley and all other ridiculous fights down through the years. But they can’t accept Mayweather-McGregor?
“I hope it’s in Las Vegas, and I hope they make a lot of money. And if the Nevada Athletic Commission doesn’t approve this or make it happen, the governor should demand the resignation of every member the following day. It’s business, and their job is to create good business.”
Yeah. What he said.
All of the above.
When it comes to the fight game, Kriegel is a go-to authority on the bluntness of frank discussion and all that makes sense, a best-selling author of biographies whose most poignant work is arguably “The Good Son: The Life of Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini.”
He views Mayweather-McGregor not in the context of a great fight — “I would give Conor an infinitesimal chance at winning,” he said — but in that of a societal yearning for the sort of tabloid avidity that moves and, embarrassingly so, inspires us.
The more buffoonery, the better.
We are certain of Alvarez against Golovkin, a fantastic match fans have waited years to witness and will get the chance Sept. 16 at a site to be determined, though Golden Boy Promotions has reserved T-Mobile Arena for that evening.
We are not certain of Mayweather-McGregor, of boxing icon against MMA superstar, of whether the number of potential zeros on his paycheck ultimately will be enough to sway Floyd Jr. out of retirement to face the opponent he has said is the only one that interests him.
But should the fight be made, meaning UFC president Dana White can persuade the Mayweather camp to agree to terms as McGregor did this week, it’s impossible to suitably describe the level of pure absurdity that would emanate from every sound bite, never mind the unmitigated craziness of news conferences.
Of course it’s not on the level of Alvarez-GGG as a fight. Not in the same stratosphere. I’m not even convinced McGregor would land more than a few clean punches. Infinitesimal is being far too kind in terms of his chances.
But boxing’s history is defined by characters, and this would offer a bonanza of them.
“Conor is his own kind of character, with a comedic element, the guy who always has a moment where he sort of winks at the camera,” Kriegel said. “Muhammad Ali had that, even when he was playing the heel. They make you feel like you’re in on the joke.
“Floyd was actually brilliant in reinventing himself from the nice, Pretty Boy kid from the Olympics to the bad guy. He understood that the money persona became easier to achieve when he was an ass.
“And then you need a great promoter front and center. Don King, Bob Arum, Lou DiBella, Tex Rickard … that kind of guy. Dana White is it. He carries a much bigger audience than anyone in boxing, and he would immediately pose arguments — Conor is younger, has a longer reach, has been active when Floyd has been off a few years — that would actually make some believe this would be a real fight.
“I don’t want to hear about boxing purists not wanting this fight. That’s a bunch of crap, and I could sit here and list you all such examples down through the years.”
Yeah. What he said.
All of the above.
If a choice had to be made, give me Mayweather-McGregor over Alvarez-GGG.
Not for the sport of it but for the lunacy.
Can you imagine Floyd Mayweather Sr. cracking on McGregor while reciting rhymes in an Irish brogue?
It will be a circus unlike we have ever seen, and that’s saying something in combat sports.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter
Media prefers Canelo-GGG over Floyd-Conor circus
Steve Carp, Review-Journal: Canelo-GGG
If they fight at middleweight instead of a catchweight, it makes it even better. Mayweather vs. McGregor smacks of pro wrestling. It’s a gimmick and, at 60, I’m too old to be taken in by gimmickry.
Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press: Canelo-GGG
I normally would not use Floyd’s name in the same sentence as Muhammad Ali, but would you rather watch Ali-Frazier or Ali-Inoki? Canelo-GGG is a real fight. Mayweather-McGregor is a freak show for entertainment purposes only, and even those would be limited.
Heidi Fang, Review-Journal: Mayweather-McGregor
In its early phases, mixed martial arts was a spectacle sport. Even though MMA is no longer that, Conor against Floyd would be a fight to gawk at. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if MMA’s top draw faces boxing’s top draw.
Adam Hill, Review-Journal: Mayweather-McGregor
Obviously, Canelo-GGG is a way better event in terms of skill and competitiveness. I just can’t imagine a more entertaining spectacle than press conferences with Conor and Floyd, followed by a complete and total mismatch once the bell rings when someone who has never boxed takes on the best boxer in the world.
Brett Okamoto, ESPN: Mayweather-McGregor
You’re basically forced to say this, even if you don’t want to. It’s not just a fight, it’s a moment in history. So, I guess I would reluctantly say Mayweather vs. McGregor with an asterisk that says I know Canelo-GGG would be a far more compelling contest.
Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times: Canelo-GGG
Best boxing match of the year. Floyd-Conor is a novelty. The entertainment value would be the verbal back-and-forth, not the action in the ring.
Matt Youmans, VSiN: Canelo-GGG
We already know the result of the circus promotion – Mayweather by decision – so I’ll go with Canelo-GGG. Both boxers will be throwing big shots in a much more competitive fight.