First, some perspective on the spectacle: 13,165 fans came to Barclays Center on Thursday night to be part of a boxing event that involved zero actual boxing.
And now, presenting the main event of the evening: Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor and a pair of microphones.
From there, it was something of a dud as both fighters paraded around stage chest-puffing, jawing at the other’s entourage and cursing at each other.
“People like to see people talking trash,” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said. “You can call it whatever you want to, but that’s what people want to see.”
Mayweather and McGregor, each blessed with the gifts of gab and jab, came to Brooklyn to promote their Aug. 26 boxing match at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Mayweather is the 49-0, five-division world champion boxer and McGregor is the 0-0 boxer with a 21-3 mixed martial arts record and the UFC lightweight championship belt.
Much of the debate between the mixing of the two sports and the biggest star in each lacks relevance in the greater sporting landscape. This is pure entertainment set against the backdrop of competitive sport. And to the fans assembled at Barclays who waited more than 90 minutes, that was perfectly fine on a hot summer evening.
McGregor entered the arena shirtless and wore a white mink coat draped over his shoulders that complemented his wild-patterned pink pants quite nicely.
It played even better to the decidedly pro-McGregor crowd as he walked back and forth on the elevated red carpet runway in the middle of the arena floor toward the stage as the show started.
“He’s going to feel like he’s wrestling a bear when we tie up for the first time,” McGregor said.
He added, “I’ll be ready for 12, but he’s going down in four.”
Mayweather, a counterpuncher in the ring, responded to the mink man by draping the Irish flag across his shoulders as he slowly danced down the runway.
At one point, Mayweather knelt in front of McGregor and started slapping the floor, mimicking McGregor tapping out to Nate Diaz at UFC 202 in March 2016.
He threw handfuls of money in the air, aimed at McGregor and a reference to part of their exchange in Toronto on Day 2 as well as a reference to his “Money” persona. “They’re all ones,” McGregor said.
This was the third stop on the four-city tour. It ends in London on Friday.
“What it has also done is demonstrated the incredible enthusiasm for this event,” Showtime executive vice president Stephen Espinoza said. “It surpassed even our most optimistic projections. I don’t know that it transfers to buys, but certainly the media demand and the audience demand has been noticeably higher.”
Promoters have floated five million as the estimated amount of pay-per-view buys for “The Money Fight.” That would break the record of 4.4 million buys for Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
“If we do break the record,” Mayweather said, “the only record I’m breaking is my own.”
Referring to coming out of his two-year retirement to face McGregor, Mayweather said, “This move that I made right here isn’t on the chess board, it’s controlling the chess board. I could easily fight any boxer. I could fight one of you in here and make $35 million . . . This business move that I made right here is unbelievable. They’re gonna talk about this business move at Harvard.”
UFC president Dana White agreed with Espinoza on the increased intensity between the two fighters. He said the same thing happened when the UFC did a world tour with McGregor and then-featherweight champion Jose Aldo. “As we started to get further into the tour, they started to hate each other more and more, and I think that’s going on here, too,” White said.
“It’s called en-ter-tain-ment,” Ellerbe said, making sure to enunciate each syllable slowly. “We’re in a society now where that’s what people want to see.”