Tom Sorensen

Boxing’s biggest sideshow is like two unrelated species coming together

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has never lost a pro boxing match, and he won’t start against a guy who has never fought in one.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has never lost a pro boxing match, and he won’t start against a guy who has never fought in one. AP

The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight finally has a date and a site – Aug. 26 on the Las Vegas strip.

There’s a boxing underground in Charlotte, and I’ve talked to my fight-fan friends who are members and not one of them believes McGregor will win. Some will work hard not to pay $100 or so to watch the fight on pay-per-view. But most are like me. They don’t want to order it. But they will.

Mayweather, 40, has never lost a pro boxing match. McGregor, 28, has never had one.

McGregor was a very good boxer as an amateur and has become the world’s best-known mixed martial artist. For a mixed martial artist, a man for whom boxing is one of several ways to win a fight, he punches very well.

But there will be no kicks or wrestling in the Mayweather bout, and McGregor won’t get to cover his fists with the hard little gloves mixed-martial artists use. They’ll wear boxing gloves, their fists encased in padding.

The appeal to the fight is this: It’s two unrelated species coming together. It hasn’t been attempted, not on this level, not ever.

The only thing you can compare it to is – what? There is no corollary. You can’t compare it to anything.

Muhammad Ali did go to Tokyo to fight Japanese wrestling star Antonio Inoki in 1976. Inoki stayed on the ground and kicked, and Ali tried to avoid being kicked. The fight was terrible, and Ali hurt his leg.

Also, boxer Chuck Wepner fought wrestler Andre the Giant. The Giant picked Wepner up and threw him. Wepner might have bounced.

The boxers boxed and the wrestlers wrestled. Mayweather-McGregor is different.

Isn’t a match such as this one of the reasons we watch sports? Don’t we crave the unexpected? Don’t we want to watch in case McGregor wins?

The first odds I saw established Mayweather as an 11-1 favorite. That’s reasonable.

McGregor, however, is an Irishman, and the Irish are going to bet quantities of their Euro and Pound Sterling notes on him.

It probably won’t be much of a fight. But the event will be spectacular.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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