Boxing has always carried a sense of the dramatic, both “over” and “melo.” From Ali’s boasts to Don King’s hair to Tyson threatening to eat people’s kids, boxing has always been about promoting the show to get “eyes on” and “butts in.”
But, for a while, a lot of that hype had fled boxing in favor of the new kid on the block. Mixed martial arts was bringing the heat and the drama. It had the personalities and the mouths. The over-the-top commentary and the intense rivalries. Boxing was fast becoming relegated to big payday bouts without any real heat.
Then champion MMA draw, Conor McGregor set his sights – and his massive ego – on boxing’s reigning money man, Floyd Mayweather. The Irish fighter jawed for months, trying to engage Mayweather in a verbal joust that might lead to a fight.
Fans watched in eager anticipation as Mayweather just ignored the verbal jabs.Then it happened. Floyd said he would fight Conor, but only in a boxing match. Many holds barred. McGregor quickly agreed, and both fighters are staring down the barrel of a nine-figure payday. Not bad for a few hours in the ring.
Tickets are at least $500, and PPV on this one is in the three-figure range. But that doesn’t mean everything is draining your pocket. All the smack talk leading up to the fight is absolutely free of charge. And, frankly, it’s very entertaining.
McGregor is the marketer of the year. He has always gleefully hopped back and forth over the line between profane and laugh-out-loud funny. Bits made of his smack are huge hits on YouTube and social media. “Money” Mayweather is no slouch in that department, so it’s no surprise that the cameras are rolling every time the two get in a room together.
The promotional tour visited four cities – and thousands of fans attended this public relations bonanza. They wanted to see the show before the show. Stare downs, trash talking, and bowing up, all standard pre-fight fare and, at least for this tour, is back in boxing in a big way. Maybe it’s all for show, but it has certainly been, thus far a very entertaining show. It’s a marketer's dream come true.