A blockbuster boxing match between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and retired world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather is closer than ever to being a reality.
That statement, of course, is highly subjective. “Closer than ever” and “close to happening” can be two entirely different shades of reality.
As the story continues to unfold, however, more and more of the details point to a progression toward the fight, not a backing away from it.
Mayweather recently told ESPN‘s Stephen A. Smith that “we’re getting very, very close” to the superfight. That statement is far from definitive, but again, it’s a step toward the fight.
The Irish Sun took things a step further with its recent report on the probability of the fight, citing anonymous sources close to McGregor’s Straight Blast Gym as saying, “Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather have agreed a deal to fight and have both settled on their respective fees. The contract hasn’t officially been signed yet because of a third party hold-up, but all the details have all been agreed on. The fight could even be announced within two weeks.”
That sounds like quite the stretch considering most sources point to McGregor and Mayweather having yet to meet about the fight, as McGregor had recently insisted they would. McGregor is, however, currently in Las Vegas, where he intends to settle with the Nevada Athletic Commission over a bottle-throwing incident with Nate Diaz at the UFC 202 pre-fight press conference last August.
As he stated at a recent question and answer session in Manchester, England, the plan after ironing things out with the NAC is to have further discussions with Mayweather. That is something that appears to be well founded, as NAC commissioner Anthony Marnell told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Tuesday that some discussions have already been taking place.
“I’m confirming that real people are having real discussions,” Marnell said. “I’m also telling you my opinion as the Nevada Athletic Commission chairman that a lot of things need to get done in order to see something like this come together because there are so many parties that want to get their hands on the pot.
“Maybe it will get figured out, but it’s going to be hard when everyone is declaring they want $100 million. That’s not what I said — that’s what they’ve said. That’s their quotes, not mine. If everyone wants $100 million, that’s a lot of $100 millions to go around.”
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While there has been talk that McGregor and Mayweather could try to make the fight without the UFC’s involvement, company president Dana White has made it clear that won’t happen.
“If he wants to go down that road with us,” said White, “it will be an epic fall.”
McGregor is under contract with the UFC, and despite the bout being negotiated as a boxing match and not a mixed martial arts fight, his contract would require either permission from the UFC or the promotion’s involvement.
The former is not going to happen. The UFC is not going to allow McGregor to compete in the biggest blockbuster of his career without its piece of the pie.
As for the latter, the bout happening with the UFC being the promoter or co-promoter, that isn’t so far fetched.
While the UFC is generally opposed to co-promoting, the scope of this bout could warrant such a venture, if the financials can be agreed upon. As Marnell said, there are several parties involved that are demanding a huge slice of the pie.
White has already made overtures that the UFC and its new ownership, WME-IMG, would be willing to make the fight happen. His initial salvo was $25 million each to McGregor and Mayweather, plus a percentage of pay-per-view to be negotiated. That offer is likely well off the mark for the potential earnings of such a bout, but it is an opening bid that signifies a willingness to make it happen when a tremendous amount of money is on the table.
McGregor and Mayweather still have a significant climb to conquer before this fight becomes a reality, but it is no longer merely the white noise of self promotion that it once appeared to be.
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