The internet broke late yesterday afternoon that the much-hyped boxing match between the UFC Lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor face Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the best pound-for-pound boxer of his era...
Here’s what we know: August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena Floyd Mayweather will fight Conor McGregor for 12 rounds in a boxing ring with 10 ounce gloves!
For more than six months the bout had been teased by both fighters, McGregor stating in interviews he wanted to make the fight to make money yes but also to make history.
Funnily enough, the rivalry between practitioners of the martial arts and boxers has some history of its own.
Judo Gene Lebell vs. Milo Savage
The cantankerous LeBell, a judoka who received his black belt in the art in Japan from the old master’s hands answered the challenge of boxer and writer Jim Beck who had issued a challenge to all traditional martial arts practitioners, ostensibly to prove the superiority of the sweet science over the hocus pocus of ‘karate.’
On the 2nd of December 1963, at virtually the last moment the opponent was changed from Beck to #5 ranked light heavyweight Milo Savage, a man with a background in amateur wrestling as well. Last minute stipulations were added as well, Savage would be allowed to use any punch he wanted but LeBell could not kick. LeBell acquiesced to the changes and the fight was on!
After a cagey start, LeBell landed a clean throw on Savage, took the boxer’s back, sunk in a choke and squeezed until Milo Savage was unconscious.
The fight was by all reckoning the first Mixed Martial Arts fight.
The Pro Wrestler vs. The Greatest
Pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki booked a match with Muhammad Ali, at the time the WBC/WBA Heavyweight champion of the world!
Inoki is one part Hulk Hogan – one part statesman and is and was revered in Japan.
Inoki had also been trained by the great catch wrestler Karl Gotch, a man feared and respected who essentially brought catch wrestling and pro wrestling to the Land of The Rising Sun.
Inoki had issued challenges as Beck to practitioners of other arts to prove the supremacy of pro wrestling.
In June 1976, the bizarre spectacle took place in the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.
The Bayonne Bleeder Chuck Wepner was also on the bill taking on Andre The Giant, the arena was sold out, seats went for 300,000 yen – nearly $3,000 US dollars today.
The main even between the pro wrestler and the heavyweight boxer was anti-climactic and experts disagree on who ‘won’ the bout. Inoki frequently dove for leg kicks on the boxer and Ali’s legs were visibly bruised.
For all intents and purposes, the bout was a draw.
Randy Couture turns the lights out
In 2010 the latest installment of high-profile crossover fights between Mixed Martial Artists and Boxers took place in Boston, MA.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on the ascent as a popular sport in the US and around the world sanctioned a bout between the brash, colorful James “Lights Out” Toney, one of the best boxers of the modern era, a multiple time, multiple weight world champion and Randy “The Natural” Couture, a two-weight champion himself in MMA.
It took Randy, a US Olympic Team alternate for wrestling scarcely three minutes to take Toney down and submit him. Toney never landed a blow.
Promoter and UFC president Dana White, who has a background in boxing as a hobbyist and promoter made a meal of his fighter’s victory and trounced Toney and boxing in the press.
The Best Ever vs. The Notorious
In the intervening years, Boxing has jockeyed to reclaim its position as one of America’s preeminent sports. 2017 has been a banner year punctuated by the often-repeated to me that The Best Fight the Best.
Therefore, there is no better time than now and I argue no better a fighter than the brash controversial Floyd Mayweather to aid in the resurgence of the sport.
Ironically, Dublin Ireland native Conor McGregor has been heavily influenced by the antics of “Money Mayweather” flashing his toothy grin behind heavily tinted shades, the cocksure walk, flaunting and flossing his spoils of war from expensive watched to custom cars.
One thing neither man will struggle to do is promote the hell out of this fight!
It will bring casual fans in of course and as much as diehard boxing fans feel insulted that this fight is diminishing the sacred sport of boxing – a sport once run by gangsters and carnival barkers they too will watch in their millions!
More than that, it will give boxing a high-profile win.
Technically speaking McGregor has decent boxing for MMA he’s scored wins by KO over Jose Aldo a long reigning 145-pound champ, stopped wrestlers like Chad Mendes and gone blow for blow through five rounds with Nate Diaz a fighter known for translating his own boxing ability to The Octagon.
By any measure, Conor McGregor is the most popular, talented and well-known pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world.
And when Floyd beats Conor and he will easily, it will send shock waves throughout the sports world!
The public will rediscover The Sweet Science, The Sport of Kings.
Boxing is a demanding craft like MMA and takes a lifetime to master. One cannot just walk into a boxing ring because they have “good hands” for MMA.
How much more so against the best pound for pound boxer of his era.
Conor McGregor will learn this August 26th YOU DON’T PLAY BOXING.
What do you guys think? Comment below...