The fact that there exists out in the world some doubt, no matter how infinitesimally small, that Floyd Mayweather Jr. will beat Conor McGregor if they face each other in a boxing match is an “embarrassment” to the sport of pure pugilism, according to former UFC middleweight and light-heavyweight title challenger Chael Sonnen.
And with every second that McGregor remains conscious in that bout, the level of embarrassment will only increase, says the ‘American Gangster’.
Sonnen made these claims on two separate occasions recently, once on his podcast, entitled You’re Welcome, and later in an interview with FightHub TV.
“I think the fact that anybody is weighing in that there’s a contest there is such an incredible disrespect to boxing,” said the Bellator MMA star during the podcast(via BloodyElbow). “If that fight goes more than 30 seconds, it shames boxing. If it goes out of the first round, it humiliates boxing.”
“The fact that there’s even an interest there – and I’m one of the people that shares the interest – but the fact that there’s even an interest there is so disrespectful to the entire sport of boxing.”
However, while Sonnen foresees doom for the sport of boxing, his fellow MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov acknowledges the possibility that the bout could also have a damaging effect on MMA.
“As a fan, it is a very interesting fight,” the UFC’s top ranked lightweight contender told reporters gathered at the Eagles MMA gym in Moscow recently. “I understand perfectly why it is carried out. It is guaranteed to bring the organizers a lot of money. Such an event the world of martial arts is not yet known.”
“But in truth, for MMA it is a very dangerous fight. We’re close to boxing in terms of popularity ratings. And if the most-promoted fighter the UFC such as McGregor is defeated by a 40-year-old boxer, it would be a blow to the reputation of MMA. But the money apparently outweighs any risks(via BloodyElbow).”
While Sonnen went a little overboard with his comments perhaps, it is easy to see how the fight could inflict a blemish on boxing. Most people will find it harder to envisage the contest having serious negative repercussions for MMA, however. After all, McGregor is the one crossing into unknown territory to face the best boxer of a generation and he is expected to lose. Thus, it shouldn’t detract from the 28-year-old’s reputation as a martial artist, his immense drawing power or the overall appeal of his sport if he comes up short.
If McGregor were to get knocked out, though, it could change things slightly.
Mayweather has not scored a stoppage victory since 2011 and he achieved that by cheap-shotting an overly apologetic Victor Ortiz. Popular opinion suggests that he doesn’t possess the power or killer instinct to finish McGregor, who is a much bigger man and has always displayed a very solid set of whiskers. That so many expect ‘The Notorious’ one to go the distance is exactly what makes this situation dangerous, though. If he is viciously finished by a man seen by some as feather-fisted, regardless of what sport they are competing in, casual fans might find it difficult to look at McGregor the same way or buy in to his brash, hard-man gimmick ever again.
To make matters worse, Mayweather is not actually as devoid of punching power as some seem to believe.
When you compete consistently at the top level, like ‘Money May’ did for the last 15 years or so of his career, it is much harder to score stoppages. The defensive maestro may not have been able to get the likes of Marcos Maidana or Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez out of there in recent years, but he will land on McGregor with greater precision and regularity than he did on either of those two fighters because the Irishman is, lets face it, a novice boxer. The American star may also be willing to plant his feet more when delivering shots, confident that McGregor is less capable of countering than previous foes, and this will make him much more of a KO threat.