Not easy to avoid the money-fu­elled cir­cus

Bray People - - SPORT -

SOME­TIMES YOU try des­per­ately hard to give some­thing a wide berth, like putting an un­savoury D.I.Y. job on the long fin­ger, or any men­tion of Christ­mas when trick or treat­ing is still on the to-do list, but dur­ing the past week the tire­some McGre­gor-May­weather pan­tomime just couldn’t be avoided.

It’s be­yond com­pre­hen­sion how a non-boxer can be al­lowed to en­ter the ring with one of the best pound for pound pugilists there’s ever been.

The Dubliner is un­doubt­edly a supremely-ac­com­plished ath­lete in his cho­sen field, it’s just that pro­fes­sional box­ing isn’t it.

A McGre­gor tri­umph would be like Chris Froome hop­ping on his bi­cy­cle and over­tak­ing Lewis Hamil­ton in his For­mula One car; it’s just not go­ing to hap­pen.

Okay, the two pro­tag­o­nists may both be in­volved in com­bat sports but the dis­ci­plines are com­pletely dif­fer­ent. It’s not tak­ing any­thing away from McGre­gor; if they met in an MMA oc­tagon May­weather would get his ass well and truly whooped.

You can’t blame the stars of the silly show for mak­ing the most of the op­por­tu­nity af­forded to them. It’s the fools will­ing to part with their hard-earned cash for such a folly that made it hap­pen.

It wouldn’t have got this far if the de­mand wasn’t there for it among the blood-thirsty hordes.

There’s plenty of tal­ented box­ers that have strug­gled up through the ranks that would love to get a shot at the master of de­fen­sive box­ing, but al­though they’d have a far greater chance of eras­ing the zero from May­weather’s proud 49-0 record, sadly they wouldn’t have the pulling power to garner the mega pay-per-view bucks.

Box­ers that have been craft­ing their art for years would strug­gle to land a glove on May­weather, so it’s pretty ob­vi­ous that’s un­less the uni­verse aligns in some wacky, pe­cu­liar fash­ion, The No­to­ri­ous will be chas­ing shad­ows as well as dol­lars at the end of Au­gust.

With McGre­gor’s pride dented, the pair will then most likely face off in a crazy kick­box­ing con­test so the two-weight UFC cham­pion’s lofty rep­u­ta­tion can be re­stored and an­other big pay day for the boys will be guar­an­teed.

If you think that’s far-fetched, it’s not much more of a stretch than the show­down on Au­gust 26, that could just as eas­ily have been writ­ten by the scriptwrit­ers of the ‘Rocky’ fran­chise.

As for the cringe-wor­thy press con­fer­ences that have been used to drum up in­ter­est in the freak­show cir­cus act, trash talk cer­tainly ain’t what it used to be.

It’s a far cry from the ar­tic­u­late days of Muham­mad Ali and well thought-out po­etry like ‘Float like a but­ter­fly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. Ge­orge thinks he will, but I know he won’t’.

McGre­gor oc­ca­sion­ally comes out with a mildly amus­ing quip, but he’s cer­tainly no Billy Con­nolly, or even Bren­dan Grace for that mat­ter.

These days the build-up to ev­ery big box­ing or UFC event seems to be aimed at the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor, the Mrs Brown’s Boys bri­gade that need lit­tle more than a vol­ley of four-let­ter ex­ple­tives to raise a smile as wide as the Las Ve­gas Strip.

Speak­ing of Ali, he wasn’t im­mune from be­ing roped into the ridicu­lous ei­ther with his fight against Ja­panese wrestler An­to­nio Inoki in Tokyo in 1976 along sim­i­lar lines to what we will wit­ness in Ve­gas a lit­tle over 40 years later.

Al­though McGre­gor seems to have the Mar­mite ef­fect, I’m in nei­ther camp and can take him or leave him.

Fair play to him for drag­ging him­self from the grip of un­em­ploy­ment to be­ing one of the big­gest draws in the world, while many who put lit­tle ef­fort in to leave the same dole queue will be quick­est to be­grudge him his suc­cess.

How­ever, one thing I don’t un­der­stand is why McGre­gor fans think if you don’t sup­port him you’re some­how be­ing un­pa­tri­otic. It’s pretty much im­pos­si­ble to con­nect with all peo­ple in in­di­vid­ual sports and just be­cause they hap­pen to be from the same part of the planet as your­self isn’t enough to forge a con­nec­tion.

There’s plenty of other sports stars from the Emer­ald Isle that wouldn’t have com­manded my undy­ing af­fec­tion and I’ll never be a fully paid-up mem­ber of the fan club of Ir­ish wrestler Shea­mus.

In the same way I just can’t buy into this joke of a con­test. The best of luck to the two of them - they can laugh manically like Mr Burns count­ing their wads of cash all the way to the bank. Both have made it blind­ingly clear on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions that it’s money that mo­ti­vates them, so they’re in a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

How­ever, the cost to the in­tegrity of sport will be far greater than the mil­lions of dol­lars be­ing thrown around like con­fetti.

As a so­ci­ety we reap what we sow. Money and greed has seeped its way into ev­ery ori­fice of pro­fes­sional sport and this far­ci­cal fight is the vul­gar tip­ping point.

Dana White splits Floyd May­weather Jr. and Conor McGre­gor apart at the SSE Arena in London.

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