Mayweather and McGregor met each other for the first time at the start of their press tour, but they immediately, effortlessly, fell into an Astaire-Rogers routine of bottom-of-the-boat, Dumpster-fire deep-diving. There is no good guy here: This is meant to inspire revulsion. With no actual boxing to sell, that is all that’s on the menu. Your hatred is part of the package. Your hatred is what’s keeping this machine cranking.
It almost feels beside the point to use this as another data point in the “boxing is dying” file. If anything, spectacles are the only things keeping boxing alive, like a sports TV network stopping its ratings from flatlining by screaming about Colin Kaepernick’s hair; when you have no other options, appeal to the worst of humanity, start banging loud things together, and see how many suckers you can con before somebody turns out the lights. But blaming the sport of boxing for this is short sighted: There are a lot of great boxers, from the all-around brilliance of Andre Ward to the knockout power of Gennady Golovkin to the electricity of Roman Gonzalez. But you’ve never heard of those people because the public is much more interested in watching two as*holes sling insults that seventh-graders are too woke to use at each other. Years of graft and corruption in the sport have led to this, of course, but we’re all happy lemmings jumping off the cliff.
The CEO of Mayweather Promotions, a man named Leonard Ellerbe, gave up the game in one of the “press conferences” in a Trump–to–Lester Holt fashion. “This shot is big,” he said, according to Deadspin. “You can’t get mad at us. We figured this shot out. We figured out a way to take this to another level. We did this! It’s called entertainment. We’re in a society now that it’s what people want to see. People are intrigued about the Kardashians!”
And of course he’s right: Like Trump, we’ve caught them all red-handed, but we just sort of blink dumbly and go along with it all anyway. This ridiculousness, this abomination — we’re so disgusted by it that we’re going to give Floyd Mayweather, a horrible person, more than a hundred million or so to bat around for a few minutes a guy who doesn’t really know how to box. The only reason baseball and football and basketball haven’t reached this level is because they’re not as desperate as boxing (and Mayweather) is. But give them time. When you have nothing to sell, sell the spectacle. This is just the start.