So far in the lead up to Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor most of the media focus has been on the training camp of the Irishman.
It’s no mystery as to why. McGregor is the one making the daring leap cross codes and he is the one who has to solve a seemingly impossible combat riddle. Thus, interest in ‘The Notorious’ one’s preparation was always likely to be higher.
On top of that, though, McGregor has regularly posted pictures from his sparring sessions and workouts to social media, expertly teasing fans to build that interest, as well as intrigue and anticipation. He also grabbed attention by bringing in a big name sparring partner in Paulie Malignaggi, a man with whom he had some beef to begin with, and Malignaggi subsequently left the camp under acrimonious circumstances. The Italian-American felt that he was being exploited after a snap from his second sparring session with McGregor found it’s way online. The picture showed Malignaggi on the canvas, with the MMA star standing above him. It looked like the scene of a knockdown, but the now retired boxer claimed that he had merely been pushed to the floor by a frustrated McGregor rather felled by a punch.
This McGregor camp, then, has proven to be a treasure trove of stories for journalists everywhere.
Max Kellerman believes, however, that the Mayweather camp might yet produce some drama of it’s own and capture the attention of the world’s press before August 26th rolls around. Regardless of which camp is making the headlines, though, Kellerman feels that the stories emerging from each side are designed with the same goal in mind – to sell a mere spectacle as a potentially competitive sporting event.
“From everything I can gather, it appears that Malignaggi doesn’t like what’s going on, not necessarily inside the ring but outside of it,” began Kellerman on a recent episode of ESPN’s First Take. “If he is pushed down and they take a picture and they release it or leak it to the press, it appears that McGregor has knocked Malignaggi down. And Malignaggi basically doesn’t want to be lied on, if in fact that’s what happened.”
“I told you yesterday, the day before, and I’ve been telling everybody, that you should start to expect this kind of stuff coming out of training camps,” continued the longtime HBO Boxing commentator. “I would not be surprised, in fact I’m anticipating some kind of story about how Floyd got knocked down in sparring or some other kind of story that makes Floyd appear vulnerable.”
“And here the opposite thing is happening – a story is coming out of McGregor’s training camp that makes him look strong and the reason they have to do that is because people who know, know that this is a great spectacle – I want to see it like everyone else – but it is not competitive. It’s spectacle, that’s all it is. But for those who hope that it might be competitive, they need to be goosed, they need to be excited by what’s happening. And so, you have to talk down Floyd and release propaganda, essentially, that shows Floyd is vulnerable and shows that McGregor is strong and ascending to make it appear that it can be competitive.”
Kellerman might sound like a cynic and a sceptic but many would agree with his assessment of the situation. With the way this fight has been promoted thus far, it’s hard to blame anyone who nods along to Max’s musings.
Before, during and after the MayMac world tour, Floyd tried to push the narrative that he is an aging fighter struggling through camp as his body begins to fail him, the antithesis of the lithe yet powerfully-built young McGregor. While the latest episode of Showtime’s All Access program showed little or no footage of Mayweather training. Instead the Las Vegas-native was shown holidaying in Miami, rollerskating with his family, and playing basketball with his son, who claimed that his father doesn’t need to train like he used to. The episode really seemed like a transparent effort to make it look as though Mayweather isn’t taking the fight seriously.
Is Mayweather too old? Well, he is 40, but he has aged very well and his defensive style is one that lends itself to longevity. Is he taking this fight seriously? You can be damn sure he is. While McGregor might not pose a legitimate threat in the eyes of most, this very fact means that Mayweather’s entire legacy is on the line. A loss to a Saul Alvarez or a Manny Pacquiao would have ruined his perfect record but wouldn’t have laid waste to his reputation. A defeat against McGregor, a pro debutant, would reduce his legacy to rubble.
So, if you hear that Mayweather has been down in sparring or that he is carrying a knock – as Max suggests you might – take it with a generous pinch of salt.
You can watch Max Kellerman’s speech from First Take below…
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