Even if you're actively trying to avoid the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, chances are you've developed a firm stance on the bout by now. There are very few people out there who are thinking to themselves, "You know what, I think I need more information before I take the plunge on the pay-per-view fee." And if you are still thinking that, I'd have to ask you what the rock you've been living under is like.
Every possible angle has been exploited. We've talked about Mayweather's domestic violence, McGregor's history of racism, their sparring partners, sexual habits, even the damn suits the fighters have worn to press conferences. And now all that's left to debate is one simple question—who's going to win?
The odds are heavily in Mayweather's favor, and why wouldn't they be? He's 49-0 and one of the best boxers of all-time, facing a near amateur in a new sport. That should be the start and end of it, but to keep themselves interested in the fight, a lot of observers are clinging to crazy beliefs, hoping the fight will somehow live up to their expectations. I get it, because you're not going to drop $100 on a pay-per-view if you're just expecting a mundane win from Mayweather.
So for those of you trying to search for a reason to care about the fight, here are a few conspiracy theories people have. They might make it worth tuning in!
Mayweather will throw the fight to make more money
From Mayweather's perspective, this might make the least sense of any theory, because he has everything to lose going into the fight. Though it has been overshadowed by the trash talk, Mayweather has a chance to pass Rocky Marciano's mythical 49-0 record and go to 50-0, a number that is revered within boxing circles. Several prominent fighters have fallen just short of equaling or passing that number, including heavyweight great Larry Holmes, who lost his 49th fight in a controversial decision to Michael Spinks. It's a number that matters deeply to boxers, even if it doesn't to casual fans.
And yet, this might not be the biggest thing on Mayweather's mind. Should he lose to McGregor, it would set up another huge payday in a subsequent fight. Mayweather will reportedly make a minimum of $100 million for this fight, and that number could multiply depending on how the sales for the bout play out. Would you be able to turn down making a sum of money like that a second time, knowing all you had to do was lose once?
There's reason to believe Mayweather has motivation to extract as much money out of this as possible. He has had to issue denials that he's in trouble with the IRS, and he will reportedly have to use a big chunk of the McGregor fight money just to pay off his past tax liabilities. It would stand to reason that these issues might keep popping up, since at this point they seem to occur no matter how much income Mayweather generates.
Assuming Mayweather would win the second fight, throwing the first one would likely set up the pair of fighters for a third bout way down the road, and trilogies tend to be huge draws, because you see a real rivalry build over time. These are big assumptions—but again, you just have to follow the money, and both fighters would be set for life if they brought in the sort of revenue they're about earn for just the three potential fights.
Mayweather might not even have to do this on his own. He tends to fight for decisions, and any time you can put the outcome in the hands of just a few people, there's a chance for shenanigans.
McGregor has only been pretending to be a bad boxer
Yes, some people truly believe that McGregor hasn't actually shown what he can do. The belief is that the guy who is a professional fighter and constant trash talker actually wants you to believe he's unequipped to be a boxer, and will use that reputation to surprise Mayweather on Saturday night.
You really have to believe in this to think McGregor has a realistic chance against Mayweather. Sparring partners of McGregor's have shared footage of them working out with the converted MMA fighter, and McGregor looks pretty bad.
People telling me Mayweather will have his hands full trying to land on McGregor -STOP IT! I respect McGregor BUT i ain't Floyd and i landed pic.twitter.com/gd4dFi3XUU— Chris van Heerden (@TheHeat001) June 14, 2017
The footage looks so bad, in fact, that Mayweather's camp even sort of believes it's not legit. That's what the fighter's team said during a radio interview in June, claiming their camp would not slack in their fight preparation even if McGregor looks bad on the tape.
"I looked at it, but to me it looked [like] it’s a possibility it could be staged," said Mayweather's trainer, Nate Jones. "We don’t fall for that, we prepare for anything. Please believe me, I looked at it and I came up with my opinion that it could have been for real but it could have been staged. I don’t know. His style is a different style from Floyd. I don’t want nobody messing with Floyd. He may be more difficult than Floyd’s gonna be for him."
That's exactly the problem with believing the footage is staged: Mayweather's camp doesn't really care what it looks like one way or the other. He didn't amass a 49-0 record by taking his opponents lightly, and Mayweather has consistently noted McGregor will be a threat when interviewed about the fight. He's confident in his ability, but he has given no indication of slowing down or easing up on his opponent.
The styles comment from Jones is interesting, though, because of one theory a lot of fans seem to have about the fight.
McGregor will use an MMA move at some point during the fight
As the old saying goes, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. McGregor deserves respect for his accomplishments as an athlete in his sport, but that doesn't mean he can break the habits that have been built into him over years and years of training.
Sports books are banking on the expectation that McGregor reverts to MMA tactics, and are taking bets on whether he'll throw a kick or an elbow during the fight. It makes a degree of sense, because while he has been exclusively training as a boxer for months now, you can't truly plan for how you'll react once you start to get fatigued. Should he get desperate in the later rounds, maybe he lashes out with a kick at Mayweather's ankles.
This idea has popped up repeatedly among fight fans, who have discussed the possibility for months.
i'm willing to bet money McGregor gets frustrated and subconsciously tries an MMA move tonight on Floyd.— Jefè (@JTrilll) August 26, 2017
I see McGregor pulling a MMA move on Mayweather.— Diamond (@dee_el_bee) August 2, 2017
Had a very vivid dream that McGregor would forfeit the fight by using an MMA move on round 5. I wonder if I can bet on that 🤔😂— Paul (@Nippauls) July 19, 2017
The big reason this probably won't happen? It would cost McGregor a fortune. UFC boss Dana White has said from day one that any sort of MMA moves are strictly forbidden.
“There is no way that will happen. That is absolutely in the contract, number one. Number two, this is a boxing match under the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission," said White. "When you talk about a guy like Floyd Mayweather, the lawsuit if that ever happened... You all know how much Conor likes money. Conor would depart with a whole lot of money if that ever happened.”
No amount of laughs McGregor would generate by busting out a kick would fill the hole in his bank account. This isn't happening, but there's one more wrinkle to consider.
Mayweather and McGregor might be in on this whole charade together
If Mayweather throwing the fight on his own isn't crazy enough for you, boy do we have a conspiracy theory for you! There are people out there who believe the fighters may be working behind the scenes to set up the best possible outcome for their futures, which would necessitate Mayweather taking a proverbial dive. But it would need to look real for it to not be an obvious fix, so it would necessitate both guys planning for the possibility ahead of time.
Other world-class athletes are worried about that exact possibility. Golfer Rory McIlroy was asked about the fight over the weekend, and his concern is that we're all being fooled by the circus.
"I just fear that they do all this trash-talking and they go behind the scenes and they are having a laugh and thinking: I can’t believe we are talking all this public for a ride," said McIlroy. "We are all buying into it and they are like, can you believe these people believe this? I just hope it doesn’t turn into it and I hope it’s not in any way fixed."
Count Terry Crews in the fix camp too. He told TMZ that he believes the two fighters are "trying to get another one," and believes McGregor will ultimately get a decision victory to set up more fights in the future.
Boxing is a sport with a reputation for shady dealings; in early July, Manny Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to relative unknown Jeff Horn, despite most boxing analysts believing Pacquiao had won the fight easily. There have been countless examples of similar shady decisions over time, and this is a real possibility in a fight with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.
Never, ever rule out corruption in the boxing world. Mayweather may give McGregor the beat-down most expect, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll walk away with a victory on the scorecards.