The fight is still more than one month away, but the spectacle of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor is in full bloom this week.
The two superstars are currently in the midst of a four-stop, four-day promotional tour — which will culminate Friday inside London’s Wembley Arena.
Until now, every jab and insult between the two has been over social media. This man-to-man tour is the “fight before the fight” in a sense, and some believe it will prove to be more compelling than what happens in the ring.
ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael and his MMA counterpart Brett Okamoto are here to recap every stop of this Mayweather-McGregor tour and provide their respective scorecards of who wins the verbal warfare.
Stop No. 1: July 11, Staples Center, Los Angeles
Rafael: There was good action throughout the news conference opener with both guys landing their share of hard shots, but Mayweather, coming back from a nearly two-year retirement, was in fine form, like he has not missed a day on the promotional trail.
McGregor got off to a good start with his mocking of Mayweather’s sweat suit, but Floyd is often a slow starter as he assesses what his opponent has to offer. After McGregor landed a nice shot by mocking Mayweather’s recently disclosed tax issues, Mayweather — always a brilliant counterpuncher — landed a stiff shot on McGregor.
“He look good for a seven-figure fighter; he look good for an eight-figure fighter, but I’m a nine-figure fighter,” said Mayweather, bragging about his much bigger earning power than McGregor.
McGregor predicted a fourth-round knockout, and Mayweather countered, doing something he doesn’t do too often — predict a knockout of his own.
“I am guaranteeing you this. You are going out on your face or on your back,” Mayweather said. “So which way do you want to go?”
Close opening round, but Mayweather edges it with defense and counterpunching against a wilder McGregor.
Score: 10-9 Mayweather.
Okamoto: McGregor lands an early combination with a comedic knock on Mayweather’s “track suit,” and a declaration that the pinstripes on his own (ahem, custom) suit are stitched expletives (which actually turns out to be true).
Mayweather counters with insults of McGregor’s pay and a (fair) assessment that even at age 40, he probably has more than enough to school McGregor in a boxing ring.
Mayweather’s decision to stitch the number “48” on his hat — an apparent homage to his 2015 record-breaking money fight with Manny Pacquiao — was confusing and downright strange. Why remind people of a fight that took five years to make and is universally seen as a complete dud? He also referenced the number “21,” saying it’s how long he’s been “kicking ass.” Why not reference the number “50?” As in, 50-0?
Solid early action from both, but McGregor produced the viral moment of the day (the suit), dropped better sound bytes and kept up his shtick of mixing up Mayweather and his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr. He wins the round.
Score: 10-9 McGregor.
Stop No. 2: July 12, Budweiser Stage, Toronto
Rafael: As great as Mayweather is, even he loses rounds from time to time, and Wednesday was that day, as McGregor, the big crowd favorite, got off plenty of good lines that had the fans in a frenzy and Mayweather a bit on his heels. Conor knew he had the crowd and milked it, imploring them, “At the count of three, I want everyone in this arena to scream f— the Mayweathers!” They complied, giving McGregor a big early lead. McGregor, dressed in a suit (no curse words today), then attacked Floyd’s boxing style (“He’s a runner!) and his attire yet again, drawing laughs when he told him he looked like “a little 12-year-old break dancer. Dress your age!” Then he got off a pretty rude line, telling Floyd he was not able to read (harkening back to rumors from several years ago that Mayweather was illiterate). That could have drawn a referee warning for a low blow.
When it was Floyd’s turn on the mic, he couldn’t deliver. When he tried to get the crowd to follow his chant of “hard work” with a shout back of “dedication,” all he got was booing. Ouch. And when Floyd went on about how much he has earned and that his name is “Money,” McGregor got off the line of the day. “You owe money,” he said, alluding to Mayweather’s IRS issues.
Floyd mounted a small comeback by challenging Conor to bet his purse against his if he was so confident. Conor agreed, but nothing is likely to come of that. Floyd later got off another solid comeback when he brought up McGregor’s claim that he is a runner. “Only place I run to is the mother f—ing bank,” Floyd shouted. And when Floyd grabbed an Irish flag and draped it over his shoulders, McGregor responded with a big counterpunch, grabbing Floyd’s money bag. It was a great comeback that sealed a comical round for McGregor.
Score: 10-9 McGregor.
Total: 19-19 headed to New York.
Okamoto: Here’s where we see the counterpunching of Mayweather.
During the first stop in Los Angeles, McGregor backed Mayweather into saying he’d do things that he really wouldn’t. Namely: Face him wearing four-ounce gloves, in a cage instead of a ring.
On Wednesday, Mayweather flipped that script by challenging McGregor to bet his entire purse in their boxing match. McGregor didn’t miss a beat and agreed immediately, but I think we all know there is no chance of that actually happening.
So, after being on the wrong end of making blatantly false statements the day before, Mayweather evened it up in that regard.
McGregor had his share of hits, including an attack on one “weaselly” Showtime executive, whom he blames for silencing his mic in Los Angeles, and reminding everyone of his 13-second conquest of Jose Aldo — but it was Mayweather who stepped up in hostile territory and landed the harder shots.
Score: Mayweather 10-9.
Total: 19-19 headed to New York.