The Mayweather vs. McGregor World Tour started out strong, but after Thursday’s debacle there was only one way this part of the event should have ended.
There was plenty of reason to be excited about the world tour featuring Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. Indeed, for two days they did a fantastic job of doing exactly what fans hoped they would do. The two biggest trash talkers in this era of combat sports spent what seemed like hours jawing at each other in front of rambunctious crowds.
On Thursday, however, it perhaps proved that there can be so much as too much of a good thing. In every city, the format had been identical. A huge crowd gathered in attendance, Stephen Espinoza, Leonard Ellerbe, and Dana White said a few words, then Mayweather and McGregor took the stage for several minutes of an open mic with their opponent only several feet away from them.
Such a performance was incredible to watch the first day, and it raised expectations for the second day. Thursday was the third day in a row and one thing was abundantly clear: both Mayweather and McGregor had used up all their material.
Part of their success on the mic was that their bravado felt genuine and off the cuff. As such, there were no note cards being used and no seemingly pre-rehearsed bits for the public. Instead, they took the stage and flexed their on-the-spot creativity against an equally quick witted foe.
The problem is, after two back-to-back days, the pair had said all they are going to say and we had heard all we needed to hear. Floyd electrified the crowd on Wednesday in Toronto, where he draped himself in an Irish flag, while Conor stole his backpack with cash. But when Thursday rolled around, there was only a rehash of their earlier material. Mayweather walked out with yet another Irish flag, and McGregor came out in an outfit that can only be described as horrendous. Notably, a far cry after first appearances in his own custom made suit (while taunting Mayweather on his attire).
There were accusations of racism. As Mayweather took moments to shadowbox and peruse the stage, McGregor taunted him with statements like “Dance for me boy,” a denigrating phrase to African-Americans, regardless of the fact that McGregor said the exact same thing to Nate Diaz last year ahead of their bout.
The truly damning statement was when McGregor was asked by Jimmy Kimmel Live’s Guillermo Rodriguez who would win between himself and Rocky from Rocky III. McGregor went on to say “I’m trying to remember which one was Rocky III. Was that the one in the celebrity gym? I can’t remember if that’s the one with the dancing monkeys or not” referencing the scene where Apollo Creed has several African-American boxers training at his gym.
McGregor denied any claims of racism. While every statement from either fighter is exaggerated and said to one-up the other, it does not change the fact that the damage had been done.
But what did they have left? The duo are not being paid millions to fight at a press conference, and they are both aware of the stupidity of engaging each other before their contest in August. They have already told each other that they will be destroyed beyond measure in their collision, in as many different ways is possible in the English language.
Eventually, their comments were causing head-scratching among fans rather than igniting them to buy pay-per-views. McGregor taunted rapper 50 Cent on Thursday in Brooklyn, regardless of the fact that he stopped being friends with “Money” publicly since before McGregor entered the UFC. Mayweather countered by having his bodyguards briefly enclose the Irishman, the opportunity to cut him down with words having passed sometime before they left Toronto.
The two had one more planned stop in London, where McGregor was all but guaranteed a standing ovation by the European fan base (spoiler: he pretty much got it). He had been the overwhelming crowd favorite in each stop in the U.S., and at this point it seemed like a gift that Mayweather did not have to face off with him in a stop in Ireland.
It was anyone’s guess as to what would come next. More of the same seemed too obvious. It would have been good for damage control if McGregor and Mayweather had come out in London acting contrite for their more controversial statements earlier this week. They didn’t. Perhaps it was just a matter of two of the most brash athletes in the world being given too much rope on the world stage. Regardless, they missed the mark. They had a chance to finish the tour as they should: galvanizing the fanbase into paying to see their contest in August. It would have been best to avoid saying anything that caused conversation for around anything else — but it seems that was too much to ask. So the tour ended not with the bang it should have, but with little more than a whimper.