Jaywalking: Chiming in on big fight

Monday, August 21, 2017

Shelling out $100 to watch a boxing match that you already know the outcome to? Sounds like the perfect Saturday night.

An estimated five million people will purchase Saturday night’s Pay Per View bout between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor, which would make it the most-watched boxing match in Pay-Per-View history. Mayweather was already one half of the top three bouts in PPV history, including the current record-holder when Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao in 2015 with 4.4 million people watching from home.

That fight did not exactly live up to the hype, which seems to be the case for many of Mayweather’s fights. A defensive specialist, Mayweather has made his living as a counter-puncher who is as smart in the ring as any fighter out there today. Although there is no denying his skill — which has led to him compiling a 49-0 career record — his style does not make for the most action-packed television. Nothing compared to, say, the Mike Tyson bouts in the mid-90s, which rank right behind Mayweather in PPV buys, and rarely went the distance due to someone getting knocked out or having a piece of an ear chewed off.

Even though Saturday’s fight features Mayweather, and is the most expensive PPV fight ever, people are still going to pony up in historic numbers. Boxing is not anywhere near as popular as it once was, but apparently there is still plenty of interest for a super fight like this.

Why the interest? Is it because Mayweather is so easy to dislike due to his checkered past, which consists of several domestic-violence charges, which gives the fight an easy villain to root against? Or is this fight intriguing simply because of its novelty? Are people curious to see how a top UFC fighter does against the best pound-for-pound boxer of his generation?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Can McGregor, one of the top UFC fighters, go toe-to-toe with Mayweather? Would most people simply consider it a win for McGregor if he lasts all 12 rounds, or even lands a few clean shots?

Many of the top people in the boxing world have been giving their thoughts on the prize fight, and many of these people have tried to expose the bout for the gimmick it is. Problem is, many of these people, such as Oscar de la Hoya, have other interests within boxing, so trying to downplay a fight that has garnered so much publicity makes sense for them. De la Hoya, for example, is promoting next month’s fight between Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, which could be the boxing match of the year. So for De la Hoya, trying to talk down the Mayweather fight makes sense, especially if he believes that fans won’t buy another Pay Per View boxing event three weeks after Money May. Other promoters have also dismissed the Mayweather-McGregor fight as well, calling it a “sham” among other things.

Turners Falls native and professional women’s heavyweight boxer Sonya Lamonakis does not have any dog in the fight, however, and she was not dismissing the fight.

“You are all buying it, you’re watching it,” she joked. “The hype has been exciting enough. I’m going to a friend’s house. I won’t have it on my cable bill, that’s for sure. But I’ll be watching it.”

While Lamonakis will be watching, she does not expect it to be much of a fight.

“Connor is a mixed martial artist, and that and boxing are two different disciplines,” she said. “His boxing skills are not anywhere near Floyd Mayweather. Floyd is going to tag him with a one-two and then move.”

Lamonakis said she has seen McGregor working out and several of the things she has witnessed lead her to believe that McGregor is going to struggle. She said that she believes Mayweather won’t let McGregor get close to him, and the oddsmakers support that. One prop bet on the betting website www.Sportsbook.ag puts the total number of punches landed by McGregor in the fight at 29½. If the fight lasts all 12 rounds, that would be just over two landed punches per round. Another prop bet puts the most punches landed by McGregor in any round at 7½. The bookies are not expecting McGregor to do much, either.

“Connor is going to get frustrated,” Lamonakis said. “I think the smart thing for Floyd to do is to box him. Connor is going to be coming forward. Floyd needs to use his angels and pivot around him.”

If McGregor has no chance to win, why accept the fight? Lamonakis said that for McGregor, the choice was actually very easy.

“Connor’s net worth is 2.5 million and he is making 100 million for this fight, so he’s laughing all the way to the bank,” she said. “And Floyd is making 300 million. Whoever came up with this idea is genius. This is a major money-maker.”

Lamonakis said that in addition to not being a boxer, she is not sure how McGregor will hold up over 12 rounds. An MMA fight lasts three, five-minute rounds. Lamonakis said that while those rounds are extremely intense, she is not sure how well McGregor will do in the later rounds of the fight.

And that’s assuming the fight even goes long.

“If Floyd wants to finish it quickly, I think he could,” she said.

Much has also been made of Mayweather’s age, which stands at 40. Lamonakis dismissed that, saying that if he were 60, perhaps, but not 40.

“He trains like an animal, he’s in top shape,” she said. “His age doesn’t matter.”

It was also announced last week that the weight of the gloves used in the fight will drop from 10 to eight ounces, which could help both fighters but probably gives McGregor more of an edge. Lamonakis said that lighter gloves benefits the harder puncher, which in this case, would be McGregor, who is taller and heavier than Mayweather. That’s not to say it’s all bad news for Mayweather, who will benefit from the lighter gloves by being able to throw punches even faster than his already otherworldly speed.

So how does she see the fight going? Lamonakis said that anyone who steps in the ring has a change to win, but she doesn’t give McGregor much of a chance, putting him at 7 percent.

As for the Recorder scribes? Co-worker Jeff Lajoie believes Mayweather will win due to a disqualification.

“This has Tyson-Holyfield vibes,” he said.

Sports editor Gary Sanderson took a big swing at the outcome, predicting a bloody fifth-round knockout by Mayweather.

“I think McGregor is going to come out swinging and he is going to get chopped up on counterpunches,” Sanderson said.

As for yours truly? I see McGregor throwing in the towel after eight rounds. He figures to be cut and bleeding by that point, and tired. Plus, that would stir up plenty of controversy. And what would a major prize fight be without plenty of post-match controversy?

Enjoy the fight.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com. Like him on Facebook and leave your feedback at www.facebook.com/jaybutynski.