F-bombs fly as May­weather and McGre­gor whip up pre-fight hype

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK — Floyd May­weather Jr. tossed $1 bills in Conor McGre­gor’s face. McGre­gor waved Jay-Z’s new CD in May­weather’s di­rec­tion and quoted a Big­gie Smalls lyric as some sort of warn­ing shot. The rest? The fash­ion­ably late fight­ers treated fans that waited hours for the New York stop in their pro­mo­tional tour to about 30 min­utes of pro­fan­i­ties, crude cracks about body parts and a steady stream of more f-bombs.

If May­weather and McGre­gor turned their lat­est show­down into a true PPV — payper-vul­gar­ity — they’d col­lect a few mil­lion bucks be­fore they even hit the ring for their Aug 26 fight.

All this com­mo­tion — beat­boxer and rap­per Doug E. Fresh warmed up the crowd of 13,165 — for a me­dia con­fer­ence.

“If it even is a press con­fer­ence,” McGre­gor cracked. “It’s a bit of a roast­ing.”

McGre­gor, who turns 29 on Fri­day, was the pic­ture of cool as he walked the red car­pet in­side Brook­lyn’s Bar­clays Cen­ter. The UFC star wore flo­ral pants, sun­glasses and ditched a shirt for a “po­lar bear” coat he had bought ear­lier in a Fifth Av­enue shop­ping spree.

He could af­ford the out­landish out­fit. McGre­gor and May­weather will earn per­haps nine-fig­ure pay­days while fight fans will be charged $100 to watch on TV in high def­i­ni­tion and can’t get into the arena for any­thing less than a $500 face­value ticket —if they’re lucky.

But in New York, where a “Hamil­ton” seat can cost you a rent check, there’s still a deal to be found — even in the fight game.

The fight an­gling to be­come the rich­est in sports his­tory is of­fer­ing fans a bar­gain-base­ment price for this week­long trash-talk­ing cir­cus: Free.

It’s the clean­est four-let­ter word ut­tered by Ir­ish mixed­mar­tials-arts sen­sa­tion McGre­gor and un­de­feated Amer­i­can boxer May­weather dur­ing the foul-mouthed pro­mo­tional tour. They had pre­vi­ously made stops in Los An­ge­les and Toronto.

“When I wake up in the morn­ing, I for­get that I’m fa­mous,” the 40-year-old May­weather said.

He got a re­minder in Brook­lyn.

Fans lined out­side the home of the Brook­lyn Nets hours be­fore they were al­lowed in­side the arena. They flocked in TMT (The Money Team) gear or draped them­selves in Ir­ish flags as they waited for the pair to start trad­ing in­sults weeks be­fore they ex­change blows.

Jon McFaul, 28 of South Jersey, or­dered his ticket on­line not long af­ter they were made avail­able to the pub­lic. He and his friends showed up at noon for their shot at be­ing among the first through the doors.

McFaul, a McGre­gor fan, said he’ ll watch the fight with friends to split the $99.95 bill for the high-def­i­ni­tion payper-view.

“You’re bring­ing the best of two worlds to­gether,” he said. “But I think the press con­fer­ence is go­ing to be bet­ter than the fight it­self.”

A limited num­ber of tick­ets were still avail­able at the box of­fice about five hours be­fore show­time, but se­cu­rity turned fans away 30 min­utes later and told them there were no more avail­able.

They could have turned to the web: eBay had tick­ets avail­able for $50 for the Brook­lyn tour stop and were go­ing for about $80 for the fi­nal one in Lon­don.

“That’s just dirty, sell­ing press-con­fer­ence tick­ets,” UFC Pres­i­dent Dana White said. “You can’t sell tick­ets to a press con­fer­ence.”

The tour ends on Fri­day with its fourth stop in Lon­don — who knows, that may be more rounds than the ac­tual fight, which many ex­perts be­lieve will be lop­sided for May­weather.

“Mike Tyson back in the day knocked out peo­ple in the first round,” McFaul said. “I want to see the spec­ta­cle.”

The hype could prove more en­ter­tain­ing than the 154pound fight Aug 26 in Las Ve­gas. The fight­ers can en­ter­tain as much as any­thing on Broad­way.

McGre­gor wore a white Gucci mink coat and raised a steel chair high over his head dur­ing a me­dia con­fer­ence at Madi­son Square Gar­den in Novem­ber to pro­mote his last UFC fight. And May­weather has been liv­ing up to his “Pretty Boy” and “Money” nick­names as both fight­ers try to hype the fight.

McGre­gor en­cour­aged the crowd to shout ex­ple­tives at May­weather and his fam­ily be­fore launch­ing into a nearly 10-minute pro­fan­ity-laced tirade dur­ing a stop on Wed­nes­day in Toronto.

May­weather mocked McGre­gor for be­ing less wealthy. Some fans ac­cused McGre­gor of be­ing racially in­sen­si­tive when he yelled, “Dance for me, boy! Dance for me, son!” at his opp­po­nent dur­ing an ex­change.

If the in­sults aren’t co­or­di­nated, mu­tual re­spect be­tween the two would ap­pear to have suf­fered a re­sound­ing KO.

“I don’t think these guys nec­es­sar­ily hated each other be­fore we started this thing,” White said. “But by the time we leave Lon­don, they might not nec­es­sar­ily like each other very much.”

Bri­anna Robeck, 16, of Man­hat­tan, was among the 100 or so fans at the gate about five hours be­fore the fight­ers took the stage in Brook­lyn. She left the box of­fice with one of the last re­main­ing tick­ets. She’s root­ing for McGre­gor (“peo­ple un­der­mine his skills”) and was ex­cited to fork over $100 to watch the bout at home.

“It’s a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to watch it,” she said. “If it takes 100 bucks to pay it, why not?”

MIKE STOBE / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Conor McGre­gor (cen­ter) strikes a non­cha­lant pose while Floyd May­weather Jr. walks away as dol­lar bills rain down on stage dur­ing a pro­mo­tional event on Thurs­day at Bar­clays Cen­ter, New York, for the pair’s forth­com­ing fight.

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