Manny Pacquiao has openly expressed interest in a bout with UFC star Conor McGregor. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman is willing to fast-track McGregor to a world title shot. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has called out the Irishman. Jermall and Jermell Charlo have called out McGregor. Hell, even novice boxer and YouTube personality, Jake Paul, is trolling “The Notorious One” for a meeting in the ring.
Boxing wants Conor, bad. It’s no secret as to why.
The UFC bad boy has a huge name that translates to huge dollars. He’s also just a half-notch above novice as a boxer and very much NOT an elite-level fighter in the squared circle. That makes him the absolute perfect risk vs. reward fighter.
Floyd Mayweather tapped that risk vs. reward goldmine first, back in 2017, when he showed up to their mega-bucks clash under-trained and two-years retired and still stopped McGregor, after carrying him for ten rounds. The spectacle generated around a half-billion dollars in revenue and became the second biggest-selling pay-per-view of all time.
Now, of course, everyone else is going to want a taste of that McGregor victimhood.
“[Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. are] options, but right now I want to experience fighting an MMA [mixed martial artist],” Pacquiao recently said, referring to McGregor.
Manager Audie Attar, who now represents both Pacquiao and McGregor, has called Manny vs. Conor “inevitable for 2021.”
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, meanwhile, doesn’t care who McGregor fights, as long as it’s under the supervision of the WBC, for the requisite 3% sanctioning fee.
“I would say he needs to face and defeat a ranked fighter,” Sulaiman said. “Then he would be eligible to be ranked and to compete for a title…We have plenty of examples of Muay Thai fighters who turn professional in international boxing and they are eligible to fight for the title. We also have amateur superstars like Vasiliy Lomachenko. They come into professional boxing and fight for the title, and it’s proven it works.
“Conor has a mixed martial arts resume. So if he comes into boxing and wins a fight against a ranked fighter, he would be eligible to be ranked…This is not a rookie entering the sport. He has a long history of combat sports. So it’s a different scenario of what it used to be in the past.”
UFC president Dana White, however, has a very different take. He believes McGregor should stay put with the sport that has buttered most of his bread over the course of his thirteen-year career as a professional fighter and save the novelty boxing bouts for later.
“The way that this kid (McGregor) is right now — mentally, physically, emotionally — I mean this kid is on and ready to fight. I would love to see him focus on what he can do here at the UFC,” White told ESPN. “You know, a boxing match with any of these guys, that kind of stuff is always going to be there. You are the absolute best in the world right now in MMA. And the timing is right now; not getting any younger. I’d love to see him go for it here over the next year. If he wants to fight, you know, one of these boxing guys, do that next year. That fight’s always going to be there.”
White has a point, but money sometimes makes a louder point. There’s money to be had in novelty boxing bouts and it’s relatively stress-free money since nobody really expects him to beat any established boxing pros, anyway.
For now, McGregor will be headlining UFC 257 on Jan. 23 in Abu Dhabi, taking on Louisiana native Dustin Poirier in a rematch of a 2014 TKO victory. After that, the boxing calls will keep rolling in.