Sold-Out World Tour Launched in L.A.
The stage was set. The lit was fuse. The fighters were ready to ignite.
This four-city World Tour is promoting the August 26 Floyd Mayweather Jr. (49-0, 26 KOs) vs. Conor McGregor (21-3, 18 KOs UFC record) bout taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. This mega million matchup has both the boxing world and the MMA universe breaking the Internet as the two superstars face off. Boxing purists claim they will “boycott” watching this contest between an unbeaten boxing champ and a UFC champion who has never squared off in a professional boxing match. But fans around the globe are having fun with this media circus pitting these two polarizing personalities against each other.
The press conference tour officially kicked off Tuesday at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. L.A. Toronto, New York and London are the four designated cities on this epic world tour. Presented by Mayweather Promotions and McGregor Sports & Entertainment, this unprecedented event has everyone buzzing while spouting both pros and cons about this match (or complete mismatch as critics say). This bout will air live on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View.
I attended the kickoff event in person to catch all the sights and sounds of the day. Here are my takeaways from the L.A. gathering which was attended by both fighters and their camps, UFC President Dana White, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, SHOWTIME Sports’ Stephen Espinoza, ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. and more.
1. The 11,000 fans arrived early in anticipation of the kickoff presser at the STAPLES Center. Tickets to this outing were free but the fans snatched them up in mere minutes. It was an instant sell out with scalpers outside the arena hawking these coveted tickets to the hungry fans. The ticket holders cheered–and jeered–their heroes on stage but the fan favorite seemed to be “The Notorious” Conor McGregor, who turns 29 on July 14. Although Floyd definitely has his own lion’s share of fans; as I exited the building I saw a long line of people queuing up to buy Mayweather T-shirts for $50 a pop.
2. While many media members have said they are “boycotting” this marquee matchup calling it a circus, a sham, a hype job, a glorified exhibition etc. the actual media line outside of the arena was the longest I’ve ever waited in. It snaked around the entrance with everyone waiting patiently to enter the presser. So for the naysayers that say “no one” is covering this, I saw many local journalists, a ton of Vegas media and writers and photographers from all over the world (and from legit newspapers, magazines and websites) in line outside the venue.
3. Floyd’s “Wow Factor” moment: While talking about his $300 million dollar payday from the Manny Pacquiao fight, the Money man pulled out a check from his backpack saying he still had plenty of cash left.
4. Conor’s “Wow Factor” moment: His pinstripe suit…if you looked closely the “pinstripes” were actually vertical letters that spelled out: FUCK YOU. Or “Fook You” as the Irishman says. And he says it a lot.
5. The PPV price. Catching this fight live will set you back $89.95-$99.95…While fans are balking at the price saying they won’t buy this, when the start time begins many of these same naysayers will buy the fight. The curiosity factor will gain steam leading up to August 26. And for those who refuse to buy the PPV fight, there will be those who “Facebook Live” stream it and you can bet thousands upon thousands of lurkers will tune in to see this super welterweight clash.
6. Seeing it live in person will cost you a pretty penny. Reports are that tickets go on sale July 24 with prices ranging from $500-$7,500. The 20,000 seats in the new T-Mobile Arena will be filled. A fortune will be made.
7. The trash talking and “explicit language” warnings were in place at the press conference and were delivered. The Dublin slugger brings out a side of Mayweather, 40, that fans haven’t seen in a long time. On Tuesday, Floyd led the crowd in chants aimed at his nemesis and also paced back and forth in the limelight while skewering McGregor with a boatload of cutting jabs. And during the post-press conference talkback, Floyd Mayweather Sr. got into his own heated exchange with Conor McGregor!
8. The Hashtag of #MayMacWorldTour continues to trend. Social media is quick and this August 26 collision combines a UFC champ and a boxing legend. The hype train will continue to build so get used to it. Everyone says this will be the largest money-making sports event ever, hands down.
9. SHOWTIME will feature Mayweather and McGregor in their popular “All Access” series premiering on July 28. This should be an entertaining war of words between the duo. Prepare for a litany of “F-Bombs” from “The Notorious” Conor McGregor and verbal potshots between both men.
10. No one is forcing you to watch. Like it or not, the Mayweather-McGregor show will happen on August 26. As Dana White told us in the pre-show press conference, he’s not forcing anyone to buy the PPV. It’s your choice whether to watch or not. While there are tons of people condemning this event, there are huge legions of combat sports fanatics looking forward to this Boxing vs. MMA superstar bash.
11. The prizefighters showed up in force at the L.A. presser. The adrenaline was pumping, the spectators on their feet. Once the walkouts began, the floor was whipped into a frenzy. Spotted in the crowd were plenty of TMT fighters from Vegas, MMA stars, local pros, and a slew of trainers, cornermen, etc. that all wanted to see what the commotion was about. Seen on the floor were Badou Jack, Ishe Smith, Ashley Theophane, Jessie Vargas, Leo Santa Cruz, Josesito Lopez, Victor Ortiz, Paulie Malignaggi, Gerald Washington, Dominic Breazeale, Gabe Rosado, Walter Sarnoi, Frank Shamrock, Tony Ferguson, and many more. Badou Jack (along with Gervonta Davis and Savannah Marshall) are slated to fight on the undercard.
12. Fight predictions from Floyd and Conor? Mayweather says he will prevail and KO his foe while the cocky Irishman claims he will knock out “Money” in four rounds! McGregor, of course, is the massive underdog. If Floyd doesn’t end it early, fans hope it will at least be entertaining to watch as Conor steps out of the Octagon and into a boxing ring versus the pound-for-pound future Hall of Famer.
13. Day 1 and Day 2 of the World Tour: L.A. vs. Toronto. Who was the victor so far? Unofficial polls give Round 1 (in California) to Mayweather while Round 2 (in Canada) definitely goes to McGregor. I watched the live feed of the Ontario broadcast where over 15,000 fans were en masse at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. They had to delay the presser until the swollen crowd was all in place. Singer Drake even took to the mic where the notorious McGregor held his ground onstage. He strutted, posturing and posing, pushing the limits while launching into a verbal tirade about Floyd that left mouths agape.
14. Things escalated in Toronto big time. During the L.A. event, both athletes took potshots against each other with Mayweather roasting his Irish foe. In Toronto, Conor flipped the script riffing on Floyd with a tongue lashing about strippers on the payroll, his reading ability and even his choice of wardrobe. Floyd draped an Irish flag around him while Conor grabbed Mayweather’s infamous backpack, pulling out a wad of cash. The Dubliner even led the crowd in an off-color chant against TMT imploring the Canadian fans to scream “Fuck the Mayweathers.” Floyd took it all in stride; no doubt he will settle the score in Rounds 3 and 4 in New York and London.
15. The weigh-in on August 25. What’s in store? More hijinks, verbal jawing, mental games, face-to-face fireworks. No doubt about it. They are showmen. They know they have to deliver. But what’s left to say? With all the insults already hitting below the belt, how low can it go?
16. Who will win? MAYWEATHER. Victory #50.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Rodriguez/Supreme Boxing
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