As the fight draws near, we asked Irish scenesters for their thoughts.
All eyes in Ireland will be on the most talked-about fight in living memory as Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr face off tonight.
The T-Mobile arena in Los Angeles will play host to a titanic struggle between two giants of their respective codes.
Mayweather has a reputation to protect as a dazzling defensive technician with a professional record to rival the great Rocky Marciano.
McGregor has youth, aggression and a hunger to prove his boxing bona fides as he crosses over from the gladiatorial warfare of mixed martial arts to the sweet science of the ring.
Whichever man wins, there will be legends spun, tears shed and reactions aplenty.
Twitter provides a tidy view of the buildup:
Really hope Mayweather plants McGregor on his cocky little arse tonight. It's a panto fight but Mayweather has to beat him 👊🏼💥— Freddie White ⚽️ (@Freddiewhite23) August 26, 2017
SKT vs LZ, McGregor vs Mayweather, EU LCS Semi-finals and the Game of Thrones Finals. This has to be the best weekend of the year— Joey Steltenpool (@JoeyYoungbuck) August 26, 2017
Meanwhile, Hot Press enlisted musicians and comedians from all over Ireland to give us their predictions and analysis.
Josh from The Strypes gave us his take from a water park in the Algarve.
“It’s still very hard to believe that the fight is actually happening. A lot of people don’t take it seriously and think it’s a pure money thing, but Conor is very persuasive when he says things, and everything he’s said he’s gonna do he’s done so far.”
Josh is quick to praise the lad from Crumlin. “There’s kind of really no reason to believe he can’t do this…to think that a lad from Crumlin is doing this, to think that five years ago he was on the dole and now he’s fighting one of the best boxers, technically, one of the greatest boxers of all time. And making a hundred million, it’s insane.”
Andy from Key West has followed McGregor’s progress since the early days, and the band have ut their money on the line tonight.
“We put a bet on McGregor just because we have to, we wouldn’t be going against McGregor.”
“I’ve been following him since Cage Warriors, and I’d always followed the UFC from the early days. I think Conor came in and exposed some weaknesses that hadn’t been exposed before.”
Andy trained a well-versed eye on the technical aspects of the upcoming match.
“All the boxing pundits expect Mayweather to dance around, to block off angles and make it very hard to hit him. I find watching Mayweather boring because of that but he is very effective. I think McGregor will have to be aggressive, to push the rules out as far as he can and try to knock Mayweather out. If he can’t then I don’t see McGregor being able to win.”
Andy reckons McGregor may have opened the door for further Irish MMA success. “One thing that I think he has done is shown that Irish fighters have something very useful in MMA, with a lot of them being in amateur boxing, they have very good hands, and the style of movement in amateur boxing as opposed to professional works very well in mixed martial arts.”
The lessons of Conor’s success don’t stop at the fight game, as there’s lessons for the musically inclined as well.
“Conor’s shown that nice guys finish last, that if you’re quiet and stay in the background, you won’t be noticed – especially with social media where everybody’s attention is bombarded with things, you have to stand out.”
“Especially if you have edgy music, you have to back that up with actually having an edge. In a sense, it’s doing whatever it takes to get out there and get noticed – like with us, we tried to get people’s attention, when it wasn’t working the usual route we took it out on the streets and got people’s attention that way.”
Singer-songwriter-sophistico Gavin Glass has a more jaundiced take on the affair, and while he supports McGregor “because he’s Irish”, he’s not shy in terming McGregor’s career to date “a series of flukes”.
Glass continues: “Mayweather’s a defensive boxer, but there’s so much going for McGregor – Mayweather is used to fellas hitting him digs, and McGregor is used to elbows, knees – any way they can take him out. So it’s not going to be an easy fight for Mayweather. McGregor can bring a lot to the fight – it’s the first time in history this has ever happened, it’s like American wrestling in the ‘90s, you know what I mean, it’s hilarious. Showbiz. All about the money.”
What’s motivating the two pugilists? “I think for McGregor it’s all about his world domination. He has everything to prove. He’s from that generation of ‘if you can believe it you can do it’. He really believes that, his favourite book is The Secret, I mean, so you know. He’s one of these super-achievers.”
And ‘money’ Mayweather? “Mayweather is definitely about the money. That’s all it is. He’s got tax problems, this that and the other…”
RSAG’s Jeremy takes a showbiz tack. “I’m just thinking more about the show, because there is a lot of people involved in this apart from them, like the MMA and the actual boxing association, it’s big…there’s been a bit of lull in actual boxing so I think it’s gonna be a massive fight. Bottom line, I think Mayweather is probably gonna win.”
Tim from the Hot Sprockets has no bets laid down for the fight, “but if I did it would have to be McGregor.”
Is it a national pride thing or can McGregor really clinch it? “It’s both – I couldn’t support Mayweather, it would be like if Ireland are playing America in the football, you’d have to support Ireland.”
“McGregor has the confidence that Mayweather used to have, but he doesn’t seem as confident now. McGregor is younger as well, he’s taller, longer reach, stronger, so I think he will win.”
Tim then talked tactics. “I think McGregor will psych Mayweather out a bit. Mayweather has never fought someone from MMA, so Conor will have a different style going into it that Mayweather hasn’t prepared for.”
“Then again, I think Mayweather’s playing it down more so than he ever did. That’s to put Conor off guard, maybe.”
The themes of self-belief and success come up again. “If you don’t believe in yourself being number one, you’re never going to be number one. You’re gonna have to believe you can get there. Whether it’s Muhammad Ali or Usain Bolt or Mayweather or any of them, if you don’t believe you’re gonna win you’ll never make it to the top.”
“McGregor’s not just all talk – he works hard at it. Any top athlete, they start out believing they’re the best, and end up knowing they’re the best because they’re the number one for so long.”
Meanwhile, we got to chat with comedians Alison Spittle and Karl Spain who happened to be driving together at the time.
Alison was wise enough not to lay down any bets on the fight. “It’s a two horse race so I’ve put nothing down. What about you Karl?”
Karl spilled the goods: “I think the clear winner is Sky TV – they’ll make a fortune out of it. It’s interesting that it will be so bad for boxing if McGreogor wins. I think anyone who knows anything about boxing thinks McGregor hasn’t a hope. It’s kinda got me interested, but not interested enough that I’m gonna pay for Sky!”
Alison has monitored McGregor for some time.
“My boyfriend was very into UFC even before Conor McGregor came along, and I’ve been watching him for a long time. McGregor is doing great for the sport and great for Ireland and it’s grand when he does win – you’re up until 5 in the morning, you go for a walk and you’re full of adrenaline and when he does lose, you go for a walk and you just see other people that are sad too at 5 in the morning.”
“You’re sad together, it’s great.”
Let’s hope there’s be celebrations rather than commiserations after the fight tonight.
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