Finally it is here, the showdown that will see Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor do what they do best.

Fireworks are guaranteed. And no one knows who will come out on top.

We’re not talking about the fight set for Las Vegas on Aug. 26 – that’s still going to be a one-sided dud. No, it’s the press tour, a four-city, three-nation, four-day jaunt that will form the greatest promotional effort combat sports has ever seen.

Given the ability of Mayweather and McGregor to generate hysteria, the verbal sparring will surely make for compulsory viewing. You might even see some punches thrown, such is the level of unpredictability McGregor brings to such occasions.

There will be taunts and teasing, insults and antagonism – either real or contrived. McGregor will have prepared for Tuesday’s opening media event with nearly as much diligence as his bid to turn himself into a world class boxer in the space of a few short months.

The unpredictable Irishman knows how to get ready for such things, perhaps better than anyone. “I get on the internet, dig into their life a bit, dig into the cracks and find their weakness,” he said two years ago.

With Mayweather he has plenty to go at. Back in January, back when the fight still seemed improbable, McGregor took aim at his opponent’s ugly domestic violence record. Mayweather spent time in prison for battering Josie Harris, mother to three of his children, in September 2010. Having split with Harris, she says he entered her home in the middle of the night and was infuriated to find messages from NBA player C.J. Watson on her phone. Mayweather’s son Koraun, then 10, told the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department that he had seen his father on top of Harris — hitting and kicking her.

Earlier this year, McGregor posted a cartoon of himself standing above Mayweather and holding two belts, with the quote “call me C.J. Watson” written beneath. His tack might have changed now the fight has been made. After all, the Irishman is mightily grateful for the chance to earn himself a whopping payday of around $75 million. Yet even if he leaves the domestic violence issue alone, he surely has plenty more in store for Mayweahter.

McGregor believes his incessant verbal tirades have the double effect of promoting the fight and thereby generating himself extra money through pay-per-view sales, and distracting the opponent.

It worked against Chad Mendes and Eddy Alvarez and so much so against Jose Aldo that the Brazilian’s 10-year unbeaten record ended in just 13 seconds. Nate Diaz heard the pre-fight chatter but was unfazed by it, which is why a third match-up between that pair, the motor-mouthed McGregor and the popular Californian, is surely destined to happen.

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor
McGregor’s approach will be a change for Mayweather. In boxing, it is he who serves as the antagonist, routinely winning fights long before the competitors even step into the ring. Here, he is limited to taking personal jabs at McGregor. If he goes too strongly on pointing out McGregor’s boxing deficiencies, as he has done so many times with other contenders, then the audience might start to agree and not bother to buy the pay per view.

Mayweather riled Ricky Hatton and Robert Guerrero by telling them they didn’t belong in the same ring with him. He didn’t bother to do so against Manny Pacquiao, focusing on getting into his best shape, then collecting a one-sided points victory.

Either way, if you like to hear people talk smack then these are two of the best in the business. You won’t have to wait long for a rematch either.

It all begins on Tuesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles then heads to Toronto on Wednesday, where public interest in viewing the event was large enough that it had to be moved to a larger venue. From there the roadshow will move to New York and then London on Friday, by which time the organizers will hope enough highlight clips and sound bytes will have been generated to push the pay-per-view sales above the 3 million mark.

The bout itself is a bit of a joke, really. Over two decades and 49 fights, some of the best boxers in the world have tried to teach Mayweather a lesson. Few of them have even gotten close to it.

Now, a man from a different sport and with a different skill set will try to do so, despite never having boxed competitively. It is a money grab that can’t hope to produce much in the way of sparkling entertainment within the ring, but if Mayweather and McGregor know how to do one thing brilliantly it is to crank up the hype machine to the extent that reality gets obscured.

The best thing is to just enjoy the circus this week and the competitive nature of it. Because, unlike the fight itself, it should be one heck of a battle.

Source: Martin Rogers| USA Today