The Circus Is Coming to Your Town (Or TV)
By Jim Biery
On May 21, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus performed for the last time, ending a tradition of thrilling and exciting (and, sometimes, enraging) people of all ages since 1919. Fortunately, for those of us willing to pony up money to order the Pay-per-view spectacle known as the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, a new circus will take center stage Aug. 26.
I won’t dance around the truth like Mayweather will dance around the ring that night. A three-ring circus has been replaced by a four-corner boxing ring. The only thing missing is high-flying acrobats and an endless supply of clowns, some of which were pretty scary if you were like me as a child. There is absolutely nothing that will resemble a real fight other than two men half-naked dressed in colorful shorts.
Thanks to the general public that cries out for anything in combat sports that can be entertaining, this so-called fight will again make muti-millionaires out of the two 154-pound adversaries stepping into the ring that night. They come from different backgrounds as far as fighting, but both know what it takes to sell a fight.
If you have watched the pre-fight press conferences, both fighters are masters at building interest into nothing more than a Pay-per-view staged event. It may sound like a harsh point of view, but I have some facts and personal history to back this up.
First of all, Mayweather has demanded and dictated that the fight will be judged strictly by boxing rules. No kicks, submission chokes, or elbows. Also, the fight will be with 10-ounce gloves, not the 4-ounce gloves that most MMA matches use. The amount of dancing Mayweather will do will rival Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta. Think about this, McGregor is used to getting hit with the lighter MMA gloves. Hitting him with 10-ounce gloves might feel like a pillow fight to him. The last knockout Mayweather had was in 2011. His last fight was in 2015. Oh yeah, he is 40 years old compared to McGregor, who is 29.
Now, before the boxing purists think I am just another modern-day MMA fan, I grew up a huge boxing fan. Ever heard of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini? Danny “Little Red “ Lopez? How about “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler? Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns?
Unfortunately, boxing has really faded away with the rapid growth of the UFC. That being said, I must divulge that I have trained in the very discipline that kicked started that growth. Thanks to Royce Gracie who introduced us to the power of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at UFC 1, MMA has developed into what most consider to be the real measure of who is the best fighter in the world at each weight class.
With so many boxing matches going the 12- or 15-round distance, then followed by controversial judging results, the modern-day fight fan wants more action and more definite results inside the ring. No one can argue who won or lost when somebody is face down in the middle of the ring.
I don’t condone violence or aggression of any kind outside of a sanctioned boxing match or any officiated martial art contest. The submission tournaments I did fight in had clear rules and sportsmanship was clear and obvious for all competitors and fans to observe. When you fight out of anger or ignorance, you only put yourself, and possibly others at great risk given the situation you’re in.
I have been honored to have trained with many Jiu-Jitsu instructors that trained directly under a Gracie family member themselves. I was thrilled to be able to attend a seminar with Rickson Gracie that he was teaching himself. Anybody who knows or trains in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu understands what a presence Rickson is to the world of martial arts.
This is why I feel like this upcoming bout is such a circus. Half the people hope Mayweather will knockout a loud, arrogant, obnoxious MMA guy who can’t go two sentences without dropping F bombs among other vulgar obscenities. The other half would like McGregor to possibly pull off the upset of the century and beat what many say is the best pound-for-pound boxer that ever lived.
The hype will continue to build just like the two fighters want. The more interest, the more money they will make from Pay-per-view audiences, those attending the fight and advertisers.
This isn’t about a fight to see who’s the better man. This is a tug-of-war to reap the financial benefits of a world looking to find a real fighter who isn’t a real clown outside the ring.
I am not saying this won’t be must-see TV. The crowd in attendance, the build-up and excitement of what could possibly happen and what the outcome will be? Will McGregor snap and high kick Mayweather’s head right off his shoulders? Will Mayweather school McGregor in the sweet science of boxing and humiliate him in the ring?
All of this is yet to be seen. But remember, if at the end of the night you all feel like you have really been let down by the “The Greatest Show On Earth,” all I can say is: “Send in the clowns.” Because there are going to be clowns.