Pre-fight smack tour only fan free­bie

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

NEW YORK — Conor McGre­gor and Floyd May­weather Jr. will earn per­haps nine-fig­ure pay­days while fight fans will be charged $100 to watch on TV in high def and can’t get into the arena for any­thing less than a $500 face-value 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 smack-talk­ing cir­cus: Free. It’s the clean­est four-let­ter word ut­tered by the Ir­ish UFC star McGre­gor and the un­de­feated boxer May­weather dur­ing a foul­mouthed pro­mo­tional tour that stopped Thurs­day at the Bar­clays Cen­ter.

Fans lined out­side the home of the Brook­lyn Nets hours be­fore they were al­lowed in­side the arena. They flocked in TMT 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. McFaul 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.”

Tick­ets were free and a limited num­ber 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. The de­jected fans would have to prob­a­bly watch the in­sults and vul­gar­i­ties ex­changed on­line.

Or they could turn to the web: eBay had press con­fer­ence 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 to­day 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 the un­de­feated May­weather.

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

Yes, the hype could go down as a more en­ter­tain­ing time than the 154-pound 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 press 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 Wed­nes­day in Toronto. May­weather mocked McGre­gor for be­ing less wealthy and an­swer­ing to White. And some fans ac­cused McGre­gor of be­ing racially in­sen­si­tive when he yelled, “Dance for me, boy! Dance for me, son!” dur­ing an ex­change.

Mu­tual re­spect be­tween the fight­ers has 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 tick­ets left. She’s root­ing for McGre­gor (“peo­ple un­der­mine his skills”) and was ex­cited to fork over $100 to watch the fight at her home.



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