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How the 'Battle of the Egos' captivated the world

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor trade punches during their super welterweight boxing match on August 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Roar Rookie
1st September, 2017
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After months of build-up and trash talk, the Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor extravaganza is now over.

As widely predicted, Mayweather’s experience and conditioning accounted for a fatigued yet impressive McGregor with a TKO stoppage in the tenth round.

On paper, the odds were heavily stacked in Mayweather’s favour. In one corner stood one of the greatest boxers of all time, who had conquered all before him with a record of 49-0. In the other stood a man crossing over from dominating the UFC to compete in his first professional boxing fight.

Despite this, the mega fight is expected to break records for pay per view sales, gate takings and total revenue. And even though it was one of the most pirated and illegally streamed events in history, both fighters are set to take home nine-figure cheques.

So why was this battle so captivating? How did it make people like me – a fair weather boxing and UFC fan at best – become so heavily invested in its outcome? Why did some people truly believe that McGregor could cause one of the greatest upsets in sporting history and knock out Mayweather when a series of world-class, elite boxers had failed to do so?

The answer is ego.

Confidence or arrogance, depending on how you look at it, oozes from both Mayweather and McGregor.

Both are polarising figures capable of drawing a range of emotions from the public. Some are jealous and envious of their fighting abilities and lifestyles, while others are inspired and motivated by their journeys. Both are despised and adored.

Mayweather’s record speaks for itself. His victories have come over a who’s who of boxing’s elite over five weight classes, stretching across the past two decades. Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hutton, and Miguel Cotto have all fallen victim to Mayweather’s defensive style of boxing.

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It’s easy to see why Mayweather has earned himself the nickname ‘Money’. He’s no stranger to displaying his wealth across social media, regularly posing with massive stacks of cash, expensive jewellery, his extensive car collection, and designer suits.

Out of the ring he’s found himself at centre of controversy on a number of occasions, a string of domestic violence charges resulting in two months of jail time and house arrest putting a stain on his character and reputation.

McGregor’s antagonising trash talk is an integral part of his character, bravado and success. He has an extensive vocabulary, which make his press conferences unpredictable and entertaining. He has the ability to mock, demean, analyse and critique in space of a few sentences. It sells fights, it sells the Conor McGregor brand, and it attracts people to the sport.

Of course, this talk would all be for nothing if McGregor didn’t perform in the Octagon but, apart from his submission loss to Nate Diaz, McGregor has been dominant, becoming the first ever dual weight champion and winning seven of nine fights via knockout.

Like Mayweather, McGregor enjoys flaunting the luxury he now finds himself in. It’s hard not to laugh when seeing photos of a shirtless McGregor waltz through the streets of Beverly Hills, stopping in to browse through Louis Viton and Versace stores after arriving in a Rolls Royce. After a quick scroll on his Instagram you’ll notice he has a lot of love for his Lamborghini Huracan, which would have set him back a cool $428,000.

Only McGregor and Mayweather would attempt a four day, multinational press tour, which in all honestly turned into a debacle after the second stop in Toronto. Despite its lacklustre finish, resembling two high school kids hurling terrible insults at each other, I woke up early and watched every press conference.

They had me hook, line and sinker, eagerly awaiting what would happen next, so when these two egos finally came face to face with each other on August 26, it was impossible not to watch.

The most intriguing part was whether Mayweather or McGregor’s unwavering confidence would actually be their Achilles Heel.

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Could Mayweather underestimate McGregor and fall victim to a left hook, similar to what floored Jose Aldo 13 seconds into the first round? Or was McGregor staring down the barrel of an embarrassing early round?

As soon as McGregor started to tire in the fourth round, the fight was done. Mayweather chose his spots, started to land big punches and it was all over in the tenth. The predictions were right, no big surprise here.

McGregor left Las Vegas with his reputation enhanced and his focus towards a UFC return, while Mayweather leaves behind an astonishing 50-0 record and ventures into retirement with his hundreds of millions of dollars.

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