The circus never came to my town. The clowns never showed up.
The closest thing was an annual church carnival, only Father Faughnan was a crotchety old sort who seemed to make it his life’s work — you know, after daily Mass and hearing confessions and providing spiritual direction — to scare the daylights out of little kids.
My childhood lacked for much lunacy, which is perhaps why the idea of a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight is so fascinating.
Well, that and something else.
“You’re an American,” Mark Kriegel said. “It’s the same reason people watched Evil Knievel jump the Snake River. This thing has Star Spangled Banner written all over it from the start. It’s an expression of free enterprise. It’s a hustle, and we know it’s a hustle, and we don’t care. We have a reality television star in the White House. Let’s be honest — we’re a low brow culture. This is Barnum & Bailey.
“What, now we’re going to turn into moralists when it comes to boxing? Come on. Is a fight between Canelo Alvazez and Gennady Golovkin a more worthy event? What the (bleep) does worthy really mean? Boxing purists swallowed Mike Tyson against Peter McNeeley and all other ridiculous fights down through the years. But they can’t accept Mayweather-McGregor?
“I hope it’s in Las Vegas, and I hope they make a lot of money. And if the Nevada Athletic Commission doesn’t approve this or make it happen, the governor should demand the resignation of every member the following day. It’s business, and their job is to create good business.”
Yeah. What he said.
All of the above.
When it comes to the fight game, Kriegel is a go-to authority on the bluntness of frank discussion and all that makes sense, a best-selling author of biographies whose most poignant work is arguably “The Good Son: The Life of Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini.”
He views Mayweather-McGregor not in the context of a great fight — “I would give Conor an infinitesimal chance at winning,” he said — but in that of a societal yearning for the sort of tabloid avidity that moves and, embarrassingly so, inspires us.
The more buffoonery, the better.
We are certain of Alvarez against Golovkin, a fantastic match fans have waited years to witness and will get the chance Sept. 16 at a site to be determined, though Golden Boy Promotions has reserved T-Mobile Arena for that evening.
We are not certain of Mayweather-McGregor, of boxing icon against MMA superstar, of whether the number of potential zeros on his paycheck ultimately will be enough to sway Floyd Jr. out of retirement to face the opponent he has said is the only one that interests him.
But should the fight be made, meaning UFC president Dana White can persuade the Mayweather camp to agree to terms as McGregor did this week, it’s impossible to suitably describe the level of pure absurdity that would emanate from every sound bite, never mind the unmitigated craziness of news conferences.
Of course it’s not on the level of Alvarez-GGG as a fight. Not in the same stratosphere. I’m not even convinced McGregor would land more than a few clean punches. Infinitesimal is being far too kind in terms of his chances.
But boxing’s history is defined by characters, and this would offer a bonanza of them.
“Conor is his own kind of character, with a comedic element, the guy who always has a moment where he sort of winks at the camera,” Kriegel said. “Muhammad Ali had that, even when he was playing the heel. They make you feel like you’re in on the joke.
“Floyd was actually brilliant in reinventing himself from the nice, Pretty Boy kid from the Olympics to the bad guy. He understood that the money persona became easier to achieve when he was an ass.
“And then you need a great promoter front and center. Don King, Bob Arum, Lou DiBella, Tex Rickard … that kind of guy. Dana White is it. He carries a much bigger audience than anyone in boxing, and he would immediately pose arguments — Conor is younger, has a longer reach, has been active when Floyd has been off a few years — that would actually make some believe this would be a real fight.
“I don’t want to hear about boxing purists not wanting this fight. That’s a bunch of crap, and I could sit here and list you all such examples down through the years.”
Yeah. What he said.
All of the above.
If a choice had to be made, give me Mayweather-McGregor over Alvarez-GGG.
Not for the sport of it but for the lunacy.
Can you imagine Floyd Mayweather Sr. cracking on McGregor while reciting rhymes in an Irish brogue?
It will be a circus unlike we have ever seen, and that’s saying something in combat sports.