It could be a mismatch. It could be a circus. It might never happen. But a lot of people seem to want to see Conor McGregor fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. And the bout inched closer to reality after McGregor and the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that they had reached an agreement on their end.
“The McGregor side is done; I’m starting to work on the Mayweather side now,” the UFC president, Dana White, said in an appearance on TNT’s postgame NBA coverage Wednesday night that demonstrated again how the prospective bout has crossed over into conversation even among fans with little interest in combat sports.
“I’m not saying the fight will happen,” White cautioned.
Because McGregor, 28, is under contract to the UFC, he cannot just cut a deal with Mayweather on his own.
“It is an honor to sign this record-breaking deal,” McGregor said in a statement to the mixed martial arts site The Mac Life. “The first and most important part of this historic contract has now officially been signed off on. Congratulations to all parties involved. We now await Al Haymon and his boxer’s signature in the coming days.”
Haymon is a promoter who works with Mayweather.
McGregor’s girlfriend had a son May 6, and he posted a photograph Thursday of the baby, Conor Jr., with some of his mixed martial arts belts. He added the message, “Let’s go get some boxing ones now son.”
“As soon as their side communicates with our side, then the fight will happen,” Mayweather told ESPN earlier Wednesday.
White does not seem worried that the hype over the fight will overshadow the actual mixed martial arts events his promotion hosts.
“Every once in a while, there’s this kind of fight that everyone wants to see,” he said. “I embrace it.”
If the bout does happen, it will be a straight-up boxing match. You could make a case that a fight with hybrid rules, some boxing, some MMA, might be intriguing. But in a boxing bout between the men, it is hard not to side with one of the greatest of all time, Mayweather, against a fighter who, while clearly tough, has little experience in the sport.
Oddsmakers agree. Because the fight is still speculative, the odds have not settled down quite yet. But a bet on McGregor would currently bring in at least 6-1, and in some places more like 10-1.
McGregor is one of the most accomplished and charismatic stars in mixed martial arts’ relatively brief history.
He is 21-3 in MMA and is the only man in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously, a feat he accomplished with a demolishing of lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden in November.
Just as important is his enormous popularity, especially with the Irish and Irish-Americans who were out in force at the Garden.
Mayweather’s ring record is even more impressive: 49-0, including multiple world titles. The list of those he has beaten includes just about every top fighter anywhere near his weight: Manny Pacquiao; Saúl Álvarez, known as Canelo; Miguel Cotto; Juan Manuel Marquez; Oscar De La Hoya.
As a draw, he has transcended the floundering sport in a way that few, if any, boxers have in recent years.