Mayweather vs. McGregor: The First Meeting Starts the Hype Top News

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Mayweather vs. McGregor: The First Meeting Starts the Hype Top News

But how did Tuesday’s event measure up to the all-time best of prefight hype?

Memorable quote

Mayweather-McGregor: For a fight that seems to be largely about everyone making a whole lot of money, it was appropriate that one of the most memorable lines was McGregor’s promise that “I’ve got my own line of suits coming out.” Sure enough, he was wearing a pinstripe suit, with pinstripes that spelled out a vulgar phrase — a detail he took delight in pointing out to the crowd.

The benchmark: Larry Holmes. The heavyweight champion said before a 1982 fight with Gerry Cooney of his prefight rituals: “I always say a little prayer, which comes from the Bible, but probably comes more from my heart. Want to hear it? Lord, don’t let me kill this guy.”

Zing. Holmes knocked out Cooney in the 13th round, and did not kill him.

Taunts

Mayweather-McGregor: McGregor took aim at Mayweather’s footwear (“He can’t even afford a shoe anymore”) and his punching power (“He hasn’t knocked anyone out in 20 years”). After a few ripostes to Mayweather’s speech, McGregor’s microphone was cut off. Afterward he profanely scolded Showtime for that decision.

The benchmark: It’s so, so high. After beating Lou Savarese in 38 seconds in 2000, Mike Tyson was already hyping a possible fight against Lennox Lewis that would happen two years later. He warmed up with “I’m Alexander,” and “I’m Sonny Liston, I’m Jack Dempsey,” and “My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable.” He then moved on to the immortal gibe: “I want to eat his children.”

Mike Tyson – Eat Your Children Video by IsiMan85

Just to repeat: Tyson vowed to eat Lennox Lewis’s children.

Lewis knocked out Tyson in the eighth round. No cannibalism occurred.

Macho Posturing

Mayweather-McGregor: McGregor predicted a quick victory: “I’m going to knock him out inside four rounds, mark my words. He’s fought people who have shied away from him.” Pointing out that the number of moves allowed in boxing is a fraction of the moves in M.M.A., he said, “The rules make this half a fight, a quarter of a fight. If this was a true fight, it wouldn’t even take one round.”

Mayweather scoffed, brandishing what he said was a $100 million check: “He looks good for a seven-figure fighter. He looks good for an eight-figure fighter. I’m a nine-figure fighter.”

McGregor responded: “That’s for the taxman,” alluding to Mayweather’s recent tax issues.

Mayweather also said he had not watched McGregor’s training videos because he was too busy running his gentleman’s club.

The benchmark: At the weigh-in for a 1962 fight, Benny Paret taunted Emile Griffith with a homosexual slur and suggestive gestures. (Griffith years later said he had had sex with men as well as women.) An incensed Griffith delivered a brutal beating at Madison Square Garden that culminated in a series of blows while Paret was pinned in a corner. Paret died 10 days later.

Gay-baiting is a disturbing theme in boxing: When Hasim Rahman used the word “gay” in front of Lewis in 2001, they tussled on television, destroying a table in the process.

Brawling

Mayweather-McGregor: The moment that fisticuffs seemed to be the closest was when Mayweather declared, “You can get it right now,” to which McGregor replied, “I’m here right now.” Mayweather asked the crowd rhetorically, “You all want me to give it to him right now?” For a moment, it seemed like the news conference might break down. But despite the crowd’s encouragement, Mayweather stayed focused on the bottom line: “No, we’re going to save that for the payday.”

The benchmark: So many to choose from. We’ll give it to Tyson-Lewis again. Almost as soon as the two men were on stage together at a prefight event in 2002, Tyson crossed to Lewis, took a swing at a bodyguard, and a melee broke out. W.B.C. President Jose Sulaiman was knocked unconscious in the tumult.

Boxers Lewis and Tyson involved in fight at presser. Video by AP Archive

Gentlemanly Respect

Mayweather-McGregor: Virtually none from McGregor. Mayweather did allow, “He’s a warrior. He’s a fighter.”

The benchmark: In twin appearances in New York before their heavyweight championship fight in 1892, John L. Sullivan and James Corbett failed to play the modern hype game. “Fellow citizens, I thank you one and all for this hearty applause,” Sullivan said at the Clermont Avenue Rink in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. “I am not going to speak disparagingly of Mr. Corbett or anyone else.”

(For his part, Corbett, known as Gentleman Jim, got into a verbal altercation at his appearance at Madison Square Garden when another fighter, Dominick McCaffrey, challenged him. “Both men grew highly excited and swore at each other,” The Times wrote.)

Did you notice something missing from this article? We decided that Muhammad Ali, the master of hype, would not be eligible in any categories. From “float like a butterfly” to his nonpareil interviews with Howard Cosell, no one could sell a fight like Ali. It just wouldn’t be fair.

Final judgment: Mayweather-McGregor on Tuesday didn’t match the best hype of old. Still, it was a good start, and there are still three more prefight events to go.

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Mayweather vs. McGregor: The First Meeting Starts the Hype Top News

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Mayweather vs. McGregor: The First Meeting Starts the Hype Top News

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