Conor McGregor’s Quest to Shake Things Up in the Boxing World

by Doug Murphy
on February 23, 2018

“I felt when we stared-down, I felt his right hand was twitching, which was a subtle tell for me. He is ready to unload that right hand and I feel that could be a downfall for him. If he lets that right hand go, I will not be there.”

These are the words of The Notorious Conor McGregor, or Mystic Mac as he also likes to be called. The quote was in response to a question from the media leading up to his 13 second KO victory against Jose Aldo at UFC 194.

After the fight, one of the members of the media repeated the quote and asked Conor “How did you predict that?”. This was his response. “If you can see it here (pointing to his head) and you have the courage to speak it, it will happen.”

Elite performance really is that simple for Conor McGregor. In a post-fight interview, he reinforced his idea to the fans watching at home by saying “Just say what you’re going to do, and go and do it. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.” Simple words like these to which all fans can relate, give them the feeling that by following him, they may be making themselves better.

May-Mac Fight Hype

In July 2016, Conor McGregor first opened up a dialogue about a potential boxing match with Floyd Mayweather on The Conan O’Brien Show. I don’t think this was an accident, and I don’t think any word that comes out of his mouth is an accident.

He didn’t start talking about the fight on an MMA show or a boxing outlet for that matter. A neutral media outlet like Conan’s show was perfect for several reasons. One of the reasons being his message was immediately reaching the average joe on their couch. It’s the non-fight fan’s pay per view buys that made the difference in this contest being the #1 selling fight of all time.

Any boxing or MMA fan is definitely going to pay to see a once in a lifetime matchup like this!

At the beginning of all the potential fight talk, boxing purists scoffed at the idea of the best boxer of our generation fighting an MMA champion with zero professional boxing experience. Most MMA fighters and coaches didn’t see the fight coming to fruition either.

Someone did see this happening, though, and he was the first one. It was inside the powerful mind of Conor McGregor that this “preposterous” idea came to be. He was the architect of the biggest money fight of all time.

If Conor can step in with zero pro boxing experience, immediately fight the best, make 100 million in the process, then he CAN definitely make a return to boxing. We know now after his big payday that he doesn’t NEED to box. The question remains “Does he WANT to?”.

The Money

Conor McGregor’s mind may have been where the idea for his move to boxing with a fight opposite Floyd Mayweather originated. It may have been Conor’s words that generated excitement and buzz around the world. Do not be fooled, however, into believing that this fight was signed solely because of McGregor’s words or his mind.

The MayMac fight happened because it was too big of a payday to turn down for all parties involved. This includes the sportsbooks who took home a record payday after many bettors were feeling a bit of that Irish luck was going to come through for them. Boxing set a precedent for potential “celebrity” style fights in the future.

Anytime you want to know an answer to a question, the answer almost always points in the direction of the dollar. You’re at work wondering why they do this that way or this that way. I’ll save you the time and energy. It’s because of money.

I could go on and on giving you more real-life examples of this “money” phenomenon, but I think by this point you get the picture.

Why did this fight make so much dough? It starts with Conor who has patterned much of his image and business-first approach to fighting by Floyd himself.

McGregor took the blueprint and ran with it. He is a different animal. The man can talk, and he sells himself better than anyone in sports today. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t just in boxing when he skipped the line to fight the best.

It was only his first fight in the 155-pound division when he defeated the champion Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight belt. This may seem a bit fairer if he were going down in weight to challenge the champion.

On paper, McGregor didn’t deserve the title shot. So why did it happen? I’m going to assume you answered this one correctly as the answer is once again money.

McGregor’s Future in Boxing

At this current moment in time, more people are talking about Floyd Mayweather fighting in the UFC than Conor’s probable return to the ring. This doesn’t at all mean the ship has sailed on Conor’s journey into the world of boxing.

Inside the Octagon, Conor McGregor’s every move is a calculated step. The same can be said of his business sense. Just as Floyd Mayweather chose his opponents very carefully, McGregor is following suit.

While every fight Conor has will make him money, he is also gambling with potential big money in future fights.

Essentially, he is like a risky stock. His value can plummet or skyrocket at any moment. This is why he is taking his own sweet time making his next decision.

We have already heard Manny Pacquiao call out McGregor. He is arguably the biggest draw in boxing next to Floyd. One of the reasons MayMac made as much money as it did is because of the strong overseas UFC market. Pac Man, of course, already has the international popularity to go with that.

There are some odds on a potential MayPac fight at Betonline. Not Surprisingly, Manny Pacquiao is the early favorite at -550 with the underdog McGregor coming in at +420. If the fight does happen, look for these numbers to get closer together.

Does Conor really deserve to be in the ring with Manny Pacquiao? Well, in this context what does “deserve” mean? It means if the money is there, he deserves it.

People look at fighting as if it was a pure sport. While it could be, it is not. The percentages are somewhere around 50% sport and 50% entertainment. I’m sure the equation is a bit more complicated than that, but it would behoove matchmakers to account for a fighter’s entertainment value.

The line will always be skipped by the cool kid. Man, some things never change.

If you considered MayMac to have been a freak show, that’s okay. Many people did. Conor held up his end by showing boxing specific skill, and even catching Floyd Mayweather with an uppercut. When is the last time you saw Floyd left looking at the lights after an uppercut?

“Celebrity” Fights in Boxing

If boxing decides to push the celebrity factor in future fights, they had better make sure the “celebrity” can handle themselves in the ring as well as Conor did.

Boxing is losing many of their stars seemingly all at once right now. So, they may need to adjust their traditional approach to the fight game. I don’t think they need to bring back Thunderlips vs Rocky Balboa, but there are countless MMA fighter vs boxer matchups that could be marketable for the ring.

A fight is a fight. Entire high schools don’t flood to one hallway to see a couple guys match wits, or play a game of tennis. People love to see a good scrap, and the more uncertainty promoters can put into fans heads, the better it will sell.

I don’t think safety will be too much of a concern as long as Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t KO Mickey Rourke, and the old man breaks his hip after falling through the ropes.

Boxing undercards are notoriously weak. Only 2-3 fights are normally shown before the main event, and these fights are seldom promoted well.

Boxing could still maintain their legitimacy by having a #1 contender versus champion in the main event.

The undercard is where they could be creative and have a little fun.

Promoters could have a UFC guy or gal challenge a boxer, and/or two celebrities fight one another on the undercard. Currently, I think boxing main events are just as star-studded and entertaining as MMA main events.

It’s on the undercard where MMA events make up the difference. They usually have 4-5 undercard fights on the pay per view, and 5 more on cable tv or on the FOX Sports GO: FOX Sports live games and streaming video app.

Recapping what we know, Conor tried his hand in the boxing ring. Did he fail? Sure. Although, Youtube self-help gurus would have to call it failing forward.

He made 100 million dollars and didn’t die. It sure is hard to call that a failure. He said what he was going to do when nobody believed it was even possible, and he went out and did it. While he did open the door in boxing for more “celebrity” fights, boxing will be hard-pressed to find another salesman the caliber of Conor McGregor.

My advice to boxing promoters is to have your legit title fight as the main event, even if it isn’t the biggest money draw. This will keep boxers and the purists of the sport happy, while getting more PPV buys from the casual fan by promoting their “entertainment” focused undercard.

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