Imrem: Even if McGregor just competitive against Mayweather, boxing an endangered sport

  • It won't be just Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, against Conor McGregor on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It will be boxing fans vs. MMA fans with millions of dollars on the line in this boxing match.

    It won't be just Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, against Conor McGregor on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It will be boxing fans vs. MMA fans with millions of dollars on the line in this boxing match. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/23/2017 6:12 PM

Boxing has been an endangered -- or at least fading -- species for a while and is facing another potential crisis.

Mixed martial arts has been threatening boxing's status; now a single MMA fighter is the threat.

 

Some would say good riddance to the brutal sport of boxing except that MMA is even more brutal.

Boxing has more at stake than anyone involved in the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor boxing bout Saturday. The sport already is up against the ropes and a victory by McGregor over Mayweather would be a technical knockout for boxing.

Seriously, imagine if McGregor, essentially a non-boxer, beats the current king of boxing.

It would be like Michael Jordan embarrassing every hitter in the major leagues by winning the triple crown after switching to baseball.

Don King might have to resurface to provide a rambling explanation for Mayweather's failure because some explaining certainly would be called needed.

McGregor represents the relative upstart MMA that has been jabbing away -- clubbing away? -- at boxing's midsection for years now.

A Mayweather victory is such a foregone conclusion that reports have him wagering $5 million on himself to win. Mayweather can afford that bet because he's expected to be paid about $350 million for this farce, uh, for this fight.

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But if McGregor somehow catches Mayweather on the chops with a lucky punch it would be the unluckiest blow boxing could suffer.

Many younger people already gravitate toward the more violent MMA. Boxing is the combat competition of choice of many older guys like me because we grew up watching championship bouts on free TV. The two sports are locked in a grudge match.

That was the context this week when I came across a couple articles about the Mayweather-McGregor bout.

One featured boxers talking about how an MMA guy like McGregor had no chance to beat a boxer like Mayweather at his own game.

The L.A. Times quoted former boxing champion James Toney as saying, "Conor McGregor will make more money than he's ever made … "

(That would be in the range of $100 million.)

" … but he's not a fighter in this game. He has no chance. (McGregor is) going to swing for the fences, get counterpunched and Floyd's knocking him out in two or three rounds."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The other side doesn't necessarily dispute that sentiment but wonders about the consequences if McGregor shocked the world.

MMA has nothing to lose here: If McGregor loses, he's supposed to; if he wins, boxing would need the world's best cut man to stop the bleeding.

MMAjunkie.com quoted MMA analyst Dan Hardy as saying, "As much as the boxing community may hate Floyd Mayweather, and I'm sure hates him even more for putting boxing in this position, they'll be relieved that he's still the best boxer on the planet and their representative."

Then came the kicker that MMA partisans relish.

"If Conor happens to put him down," Hardy said, "he'll have done what 49 boxers have not been able to do, and that's a massive hit to boxing in general -- especially given the fact that Mayweather is the greatest defensive boxer we've ever seen."

Conor McGregor merely being competitive against Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night?

Boxing might never recover.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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