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Mayweather and McGregor go face to face in profane first presser

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor put on a show in Los Angeles.

The crowd in Los Angeles to see them was big, and mostly pro-Conor McGregor. The verbal fireworks were expected, and mostly didn’t disappoint. In the end, we got a clear statement: Mayweather-McGregor is real, it’s happening, and a lot of people care.

Compared to a standard UFC press conference, boxing pressers are long, tedious affairs, featuring long speeches by behind the scenes type folks that the average fight fan couldn’t care less about. That’s not meant as disrespect to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza or MGM Resorts International’s Richard Sturm, who played key roles in putting this event together, it’s just that fight fans want to hear from fighters.

By boxing standards, this thing was kept fairly short. Espinoza did a short speech, Sturm did a short speech that was booed by a restless audience, and then we got to the meat of things.

UFC’s Dana White did a brief, loud introduction for McGregor, the 28-year-old UFC champion making some form of history by crossing over to fight the best boxer of a generation, in a boxing ring, under boxing rules.

McGregor referred to Mayweather’s skill set as “limited,” saying he doesn’t fear Floyd’s boxing acumen, and said that under boxing rules, “this isn’t even a quarter of a real fight.”

But the bombastic Irishman also noted that he will knock Mayweather out inside four rounds, even guaranteeing it. Wild claims are nothing new for fans of any combat sport, but it was notable.

McGregor, clad in a crisp new suit, also made sure to point out Mayweather’s more casual attire. “He’s in a fuckin’ tracksuit!” McGregor exclaimed early in his speech. “He can’t even afford a suit anymore!”

When McGregor finished, Mayweather Promotions’ Leonard Ellerbe ran down the list of achievements Floyd Mayweather can boast for his illustrious career. This was booed. So was Mayweather himself.

And this is where, for those of us familiar with the recent behavior of Mayweather at these events, the press conference became interesting.

During McGregor’s speech, Mayweather could be caught lowering his head at some of Conor’s statements, rolling his eyes, jostling around in his seat, growing impatient, perhaps even a little annoyed.

For his own speech, Mayweather was dramatically more animated than he has been in years, possibly dating back to his 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, where he talked his way into what was then the biggest money fight of all-time, and with the victory in that fight, his place as the sport’s No. 1 draw for many years to come.

He repeated chants — “Hard work! Dedication!” “All work is what? Easy work!” He paced around the stage like a caged tiger after quick quips and one liners.

Through it all, McGregor was given a live microphone to respond, and he did so. When Mayweather said, “I don’t give a fuck if it’s a ring, I don’t give a fuck if it’s an Octagon,” McGregor quickly responded, “Don’t be talking shit, you do give a fuck if it’s an Octagon.”

Mayweather popped out an uncashed check for $100 million from a couple of years ago. “This bitch made $3 million his last fight!” he said with a tone of disbelief. “Bitch” was said a lot, actually.

Floyd, to be quite honest, wasn’t his old trash talking self for most of this speech. He seemed rusty in this game, like if you asked Rakim to hop up on stage for a battle, cold, after he hasn’t been in that environment for years.

But he shook the rust, and delivered a couple of good lines to close.

“I’m an old man,” the 40-year-old Mayweather said. “I’m not the same fighter I was 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 5 years ago, or two years ago. But I got enough to beat you.”

And, he added, “God don’t make mistakes, and God only made one thing perfect. That’s my boxing record.”

There is some belief that the press conferences leading up to the fight will be more entertaining than the fight itself. It’s a reasonable thought, especially for those who think this will, indeed, be easy work for “Money” Mayweather. But at the very least, the press conference was entertaining, for all its awkward showmanship and somewhat forced obscenity.

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