Mayweather vs. McGregor: Anatomy of a Headlining Story
Every couple of decades or so, whether it’s in the world of boxing or another sport, a story will emerge that will capture headlines worldwide. Back in 2015 it was the match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (when Pacquiao was turned to dust by the lightning-quick Mayweather at the top of his game). And this year, another fight story continues to dominate headlines both online and off – the battle that took place in the Las Vegas’ T-Mobile arena on August 26th.
Even as a non-boxer and non-MMA fighter, it’s hard not to miss the steady beat of coverage resulting from Floyd Mayweather’s decision to enter the ring again this past June — and accept the challenge to fight the reigning UFC title holder Conor McGregor after a two-year hiatus from boxing. And post-fight, this headlining story continues today of the millions made that night, how Mayweather again retires unbeaten and how McGregor lasted way more rounds than anyone expected.
Mayweather Jr. entered the ring with an untouchable 49-0 record as a professional boxer and retired from it with a 50-0 record. McGregor pre-fight claimed that boxing was one of his better skills as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter – but during the 10-round match, his muscle memory for MMA techniques kept kicking in, with a few fists to Mayweather’s back of the head here and there (the referee took it easy on him). The one-punch victory was not on McGregor’s side.
Either way, this fight of the century garnered lots of eyeballs from boxing fans, MMA fans and non-fans alike, possibly becoming the highest pay-per-view show ever (the fight in 2015 with Mayweather and Pacquiao garnered more than 4 million buyers), as reported. News sources have reported that at $80 million USD this gross on ticket sales was the highest in boxing history. Final pay-per-view numbers aren’t in but the dollars will be counted from 225 countries around the world – likely breaking the previous record.
Critics and fight purists predicted a Mayweather win and they were right; those on the sidelines that hedged their bets on McGregor did so because he’s young, crazy-hungry ambitious; it was a risky bet for a massive payout. Hopefully, those who travelled to Vegas didn’t take out loans to pay for the fight and bet all their money on McGregor. Maybe our Prime Minister got lucky by placing a wager on Mayweather.
And then there’s the element of race relations that came up. But weren’t these fighters just chirping each other to be sensational, and headline worthy? Heckling in sports has been around since time immemorial, but this is a sensitive time in our history – and perhaps McGregor was smarter than we thought in his strategy to make this fight more than what it really was – a combat sport between two prime athletes in an enclosed ring.
This story between Mayweather and McGregor captivated audiences from start to finish, with all the ingredients for a headliner:
- Floyd Mayweather, a tough-as-nails boxer with a clean 49-0-win record pre-fight
- Connor McGregor, a tattooed UFC fighter had a 21-3-win record
- Mayweather has a criminal record
- McGregor was a plumbing apprentice four years ago, collecting government assistance
- Both are known for making vile and denigrating remarks; evil vs. the lesser evil?
- Both are in Olympian shape, Mayweather a seasoned 40-year-old vs. McGregor’s 29 years
- MMA boxing skills vs. pure boxing technique
From a communications standpoint, this fight dominated headlines because 1) it told the age-old story of good vs. evil that we all can relate to 2) it was the David and Goliath story of 2017 3) it transcended boundaries as a never-before-seen fight between two different types of fighters 4) it was a story of old vs. new with an up-and-coming challenger going against a boxing legend and 5) fighting for sport has been going on for a long time — and will always be something humans gravitate towards as a spectacle.
At the end of the day, it was a fight between two Titans of epic proportions that made it too compelling not to watch. I placed my first pay-per-view order that evening and was not disappointed. And now that the fight’s over, they’re both considered winners. Funny, that.
This blog post was written by Account Director and Media Relations expert, Deane Code. For more, follow us on Twitter @VeritasComm.