Floyd Mayweather is doing his best to sell his August 26 fight with Conor McGregor, and in an interview with ESPN friend Stephen A. Smith, sat down and told some tales about how he’s not the fighter he used to be, propping up McGregor, who has never boxed professionally, as a worthy challenger in a boxing match against the generation’s best boxer.
"He's a lot younger. When you look at myself and Conor McGregor on paper, he's taller, has a longer reach, he's a bigger man from top to bottom. He's a lot younger, so youth is on his side. And I've been off a couple of years. And I'm in my 40s. So, if you look at everything on paper, it leans toward Conor McGregor."
"I'm not the same fighter I was two years ago. I'm not the same fighter I was five years ago. I lost a step," he said. "A fighter like Andre Berto isn't even supposed to go the distance with Floyd Mayweather, but remember, I was 38. It's obvious I'm slipping a little bit to even let a fighter like that go the distance with me. I'm not what I used to be."
But he also added this:
"I didn't say I couldn't fight. I just said I'm not the same Floyd Mayweather I once was.”
The great thing about these quotes is that they’re hard to argue against, so technically, Mayweather, who is 40, and isn’t the fighter he used to be, isn’t lying about anything.
But it’s all a transparent sales job, too. The only place this fight is likely to be compelling is on paper, quite frankly, and even then you have to ignore the voice inside your brain going, “It’s nice that McGregor is taller and younger, but Mayweather is an all-time great professional boxer and Conor McGregor is not a professional boxer.”
Most likely, Floyd and his people have calculated that at this point, a mere two weeks and change out from the fight, this is the way to sell on that final push. Talk about McGregor as a challenge. Even downplay your own ability if you need to to make that palatable to a skeptical public. I don’t think this will fool anyone who wasn’t going to buy into buying, but that ship has probably sailed. Now it’s about getting the fence-sitters in, and this could work for some.