Columnists 24.8.2017 11:39 am

Who needs glory when the hype winds up?

A few weeks ago we had a massive sporting weekend.

The Lions hosted the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final, the Springbok squad for their Rugby Championship opener was announced, there was plenty of action from the World Athletics Championships in London and the Community Shield took place across town at Wembley.

Yet the biggest sporting hit on our website that week had absolutely nothing to do with a dramatic or gutsy performance from a sublimely talented star. Neither did it involve a medal, a trophy or tears of joy. No, strangely enough it was a video of a streaker strutting his stuff ahead of the 100m final in London that got the most reads. I mean really?

What about all the drama of Kwagga Smith receiving an unfortunate red card at Ellis Park, all the new Springbok caps read out by coach Allister Coetzee, Arsenal flooring Chelsea in a penalty shootout or Usain Bolt being dethroned by Justin Gatlin in his final race? All of them being usurped by a bloody bare-butt clown?

C’mon… Maybe it’s for that very same reason that a meeting in a boxing ring in Las Vegas, one that includes a retired boxer and one who’s not even a boxer by trade, is set to earn more than $600 million at the weekend. That is the predicted income the organisers will make when Floyd Mayweather steps into the ring with Conor McGregor.

Two years ago the overhyped “Fight of the Century” between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao scooped around $600 million and indications are the “Money Fight” can top that number.

Dozens of people from a boxing background have predictably slated the fight, with former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis going so far as to call it “ridiculous”. And to take a leaf right out of the Madonna book-of-life, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

For every 10 additional people deciding to watch the fight for every one person who says something good about the fight like Anthony Joshua, there’ll be 30 willing to fork out the $100 on pay-per-view to watch the action on HD in the United States for every Mike Tyson that says McGregor “is going to get killed boxing”. In many ways, I think all these sideshows probably make the bout easier to sell than the borefest between Mayweather and Pacquiao, during which the Filipino couldn’t penetrate the American’s defence over a painstaking 12 rounds.

This time at least, McGregor is bringing something different to the party, although he’s not allowed to use all his fancy martial arts tricks. He remains the dark horse even if he might not be awake by the time the bell signals the end of the first round. But that being said, Mayweather is getting on and definitely not the same fighter he was a decade ago.

And even though the general feeling is that McGregor has got no chance, the prospect of these two slugging it out is probably more unpredictable than anything a penalty shootout, a rugby final or a 100m dash can deliver. Who needs a streaker when you’ve got a freak show like this?

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