The fight is still more than one month away, but the spectacle of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor is in full bloom this week.
The two superstars are currently in the midst of a four-stop, four-day promotional tour — which will culminate Friday inside London’s Wembley Arena.
Until now, every jab and insult between the two has been over social media. This man-to-man tour is the “fight before the fight” in a sense, and some believe it will prove to be more compelling than what happens in the ring.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 12, 2017
It was part rap battle, part celebrity roast and nearly 100 percent profane. It will also go a long way in making sure this carnival fight between the 40-year-old Mayweather and UFC champion McGregor has a legitimate shot at breaking Mayweather’s almost absurd 4.6 million pay-per-view buy record from 2015.
If McGregor came up a bit short Tuesday in the de facto Round 1 of their fight — largely because his microphone was cut during Mayweather’s prepared rant — the brash Irishman made sure that wasn’t going to happen again in Toronto, a UFC hotbed that president Dana White personally made sure was added to the four-city promotional tour.
After Canadian fans, an overwhelming majority of them pro-McGregor, gobbled up nearly 30,000 free tickets within hours of their availability for this “press conference on steroids” (which featured musical guests and an appearance from rapper Drake), the venue was moved at the last minute to the Budweiser Stage outdoor concert theater.
McGregor (21-3, 18 KOs in MMA), once again dressed in a perfectly fitted suit, took advantage of the one-sided cheers to nearly eviscerate Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) in terms of their verbal battle, scoring a dominant victory with a humorous rant (and multiple witty retorts to Mayweather’s comeback attempts) that featured crude, low brow humor soaked in expletives.
Despite a written statement from Showtime early Wednesday that the network “at no point cut any microphones intentionally” during the tour’s first stop, McGregor made sure to let everyone know he hadn’t forgotten (much less forgiven) anyone associated with the event.
Walking to the front of the stage with a microphone in his hand, McGregor tapped it and asked, “Does this mic work?” He then gave a backhand to the microphone connected to the podium before exclaiming, “Well then f— that mic!”
McGregor, 28, wasn’t quite done making his point.
“[Mayweather] won’t do shit. He won’t do f—ing nothing,” McGregor said. “And while we’re at it, f— Showtime, too.”
With the crowd at a fever pitch, McGregor turned his attention to Showtime’s executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza, who was seated on the stage.
“You little weasel. Look at you, you little weasel. I can see it in your eyes. You’re a little f—ing bitch,” McGregor said. “Cut my mic off? Cut the champ’s mic off? Hell no. You f—ing weasel and you f—ng little bitch. They are trying to set me up at every turn here. They are trying to catch me off guard, trying to see me in uncomfortable positions. But I thrive in uncomfortable positions.”
Espinoza, to his credit, smiled and laughed as McGregor tore him up.
From there, McGregor went on to insult Mayweather’s age (“Floyd is an old, weak bitch”) and his side business as a gentleman’s club owner (“He has 50 stripper bitches on his payroll”). He then took a shot at the boxing media for giving him virtually no chance of victory.
“I just want to speak to all the p——, all the pundit p——. The supposed experts,” McGregor said. “You’re f—ing crazy if you think this man has a chance. [Mayweather’s] head is too small. One shot is all it takes me. I’ll bounce his head off the canvas. I’ll dribble that shit. He never even fought a day in his life. He’s boxing’s biggest runner and it’s biggest bitch.”
The biggest roar from the crowd came during McGregor’s finale, which focused on Mayweather’s clothes. For the second straight day, the former boxing pound-for-pound king dressed casual, this time with a black hat and T-shirt flaunting his TMT brand.
“What the f— is he wearing? He looks like a little breakdancer, a little 12-year-old bitch,” McGregor said. “He’s 40. Learn to dress your age. You have a school bag on stage. What are you doing with a school bag on stage? You can’t even read.”
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) July 12, 2017
For those scoring the mental battle and comedic value of Wednesday’s duel, McGregor’s lead appeared insurmountable. But Mayweather, who took to the podium while fans screamed, “Pay your taxes,” did his best to hold his own, choosing almost exclusively to focus on money.
“They say I was too small, they say I run like a bitch,” Mayweather said. “But God damn it, 49-0. Yeah motherf—er, I run it until the motherf—ing bank.”
Mayweather responded to McGregor’s talk about his attire by walking up to White, who was also dressed in a T-shirt (which said “Zuffa Boxing”) and jeans.
“Dana White, we got the money, you and me got the money,” Mayweather said. “We don’t have to wear suits. It’s the ones who have the money that don’t have to wear suits.”
After years of hot and cold relations with White, Mayweather used the platform to approach him and sincerely apologize for prior words, saying, “I have known you for 21 years, and you’ve done a hell of a job with this company.”
At one point, Mayweather pulled out a book bag that was filled with piles of cash in order to flaunt his wealth. He then challenged McGregor to “bet your whole f—ing fight check, bitch,” to which the MMA star responded, “No f—ng problem, send the contract and it’s done.”
But Mayweather appeared to overplay his hand when he grabbed an Irish flag from the crowd and draped it over his shoulders. McGregor instantly grabbed Mayweather’s money bag and the two stared down at the front of the stage in an almost surreal scene out of pro wrestling.
After McGregor rummaged through the bag and heckled Mayweather for the small amount of money (“There’s about five grand in there. F— me”), he offered an ultimatum using a serious tone that forced Mayweather to stand down.
“Floyd, you do something with that flag and you ain’t getting this bag or this money back, and I’m going to f— you up on stage,” he said.
In the end, it proved to be the final blow securing McGregor’s mythical victory in Round 2 of their traveling spectacle tour. After the event, a calm Mayweather had fun with the moment while doing his best to put the significance of their performances in perspective.
“You have to realize, I’m not phased by this. This doesn’t bother me,” Mayweather said. “Like I said, at the end of the day, the fans can’t fight for him. I’ve been through this too many times.”
Mayweather promised he would save his best material for last on Friday in London. McGregor, meanwhile, has yet to touch the darker sides of Mayweather’s past in his material, including multiple domestic violence charges.
Two down, two to go. Day 3 continues on Thursday in Brooklyn, New York.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 12, 2017