Johannesburg - Floyd Mayweather’s TKO win against Conor McGregor last Sunday made him the most successful boxer in history.
The catch is that, while he pulled one clear of the 49-0 record he shared with the great Rocky Marciano, the victory that supposedly immortalised him was achieved against a non-boxer.
So the loudest mouth in sport has an awkward situation on his hands – for once, the man who brags about pretty much everything can’t exactly do so after such a hollow win. McGregor may be a Ultimate Fighting Championship great and no match for even Mayweather when it comes to foul-mouthed trash talking, but he was such a novice in their fight he barely laid a clumsy glove on the boxing great.
But the one place where the “Money Fight” didn’t ring hollow was in the ka-ching in the two fighters’ bank accounts. The fight attracted huge interest and reportedly grossed about $600 million (R7.7 billion), the most in the sport’s history, and $100 million and $30 million for Mayweather and McGregor, respectively.
While the purists are still in knots about their “sweet science” being devalued by having a fighter who can’t box (McGregor) raiding their coffers for a payday bigger than most real boxers have seen in their lives, the question to ask is if fans are getting bored with conventional sport.
We live in an age of eSports; pink ball cricket, and day and night test matches; basketballer Stephen Curry being given an exemption to play in a professional golf tournament; former swimmer Michael Phelps sinking 50-foot putts; and former sprinter Usain Bolt racing against time to make his Manchester United debut in yesterday’s legends game against Barcelona.
Judging by the fact that playing Pacman (the game, not the boxer) is now a professional sport, it would appear sports fans have grown tired of watching one interminable test match after another; Lewis Hamilton and co going around in yet another circle; and thousands of people jogging from Durban to Maritzburg when they could get an Uber.
By the looks of it, Roger Federer’s 19 Grand Slam titles might not be enough to confirm him as a sporting great unless Jahangir or Jansher Khan come out of retirement to play him in a money-spinning squash game.
A friend who works as a sports administrator and marketer took a stab at explaining why he thinks this is the case.
Apparently, there is too much saturation – think rugby and conventional sports. More women are becoming interested in sport and the new generation doesn’t really go for the old three-punch combo of soccer, rugby and cricket, or whatever else they offer in the free world.
This means different ways of packaging sport, which can range from using a pink and unpredictable ball under lights in test cricket, to finally bringing former ice-skating duo Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan’s hatred of one anther into a wrestling ring.
Another, less scientific, reason could well be that of sport imitating life. We live in the age of the so-called slashers – people who are “this slash that” career-wise and juggle all kinds of jobs at the same time.
Sportsmen are essentially still the obnoxious kids who could play just about any sport well at school.
They are seemingly getting curious about what could have been when they get bored with the monotony of consistently being excellent at one thing.
If he wasn’t already in his 30s with family responsibilities, Proteas batsman AB de Villiers would be a prime candidate for this.
Code-hopping isn’t new, if Formula One driver Kimi Räikkönen’s flirtation with rallying and Michael Jordan’s attempt at being a professional baseballer after retiring from basketball are anything to go by. But the difference with the digital age is that some snake-oil salesman can actually make it happen.
But to the Bulls fans who are worried that their players, who are barely making the grade as rugby players at the moment, are suddenly going to find themselves having to play in the SA Netball team, fear not.
That kind of revolution is light years away in a country that still spits its dummy out over the Springboks playing in a red jersey.
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