The Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor World Tour in 10 Quotes
The Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor world tour wrapped up on Friday afternoon, and it was an absolute roller coaster.
There were vicious one-liners, then there were head-shaking flops. There were memorable sights, then there was silly peacocking. There were tense moments between the two men, then there were moments where the absurdity of all this shined through.
It was a war of words that had high highs and some low lows but delivered a number of memorable moments along the way. That makes it worth commemorating the last week by focusing in on what was heard, rather than what was seen.
The Bottom Line
Day 1: "He look good for a seven-figure fighter. He look good for an eight-figure fighter. But I'm a nine-figure fighter." -Floyd Mayweather on Conor McGregor's earnings.
To the surprise of nobody, money was the theme of the Mayweather vs. McGregor world tour. Who has it. Who doesn't. On and on.
Despite his recent financial troubles, Mayweather still found himself in a clear position of strength over McGregor in this regard. The reason? Mayweather has taken home more for single fights than McGregor has earned in his entire career.
McGregor isn't afraid to "go there," and there are plenty of places to go when it comes to Mayweather. When it comes to earnings, though, there wasn't anything he could say.
The Tax Man
Day 1: "You right, I'm the IRS and I'm gonna tax your ass." -Mayweather reacting to McGregor's quips about his tax situation.
Conor McGregor got a gift from the heavens before the tour when news broke that the Internal Revenue Service was breathing down Floyd Mayweather's neck. Is Mayweather in any kind of serious trouble? Is he going from rags to riches and back to rags, a la Terrell Owens and Mike Tyson?
Maybe, maybe not, but when the topic came up on the first day of the presser, Mayweather was quick to shut it down. When McGregor quipped that a $100 million check in the boxer's possession was destined to go to the "tax man," Mayweather showed off uncharacteristically quick wits by turning things around on him and saying that he is the tax man.
McGregor fired back with a "you're not gonna do s--t," but it was a mic drop moment from Mayweather, and it basically sealed his place as the winner of the first day's festivities. That said, Tuesday's action didn't stop after the staredown...
Turning the Work into a Shoot
Day 1: "If he disrespects me during this tour...maybe I might just bounce an elbow off of his eyebrow." -Conor McGregor to Floyd Mayweather Sr. after the Los Angeles press event.
There are a lot of "what if" questions when it comes to this match, but one of the biggest is "what if Conor McGregor does something against the rules?"
Granted, it's a somewhat silly discussion. If McGregor was willing to flagrantly violate the rules of any contest, what was stopping him from doing so in MMA? If he is willing to haul off and shoot for a single-leg takedown on Mayweather, why didn't he try to headbutt his way out of a loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196?
Still, it's a topic that just won't die, and when Floyd Mayweather Sr. crashed McGregor's Tuesday media scrum and brought it up, McGregor used it to throw him, and maybe Floyd Jr., for a loop.
Discussing how there was nothing actually stopping him from bringing his MMA techniques into the boxing ring, McGregor made one thing clear. At any moment, he could throw a kick, sneak in an elbow in the clinch or take him down.
McGregor may win or lose a boxing match...but it only stays a boxing match as long as he feels like it. And as soon as it stops being a boxing match? Mayweather is nothing.
Again, don't expect McGregor to do anything illegal, but feel free to keep daydreaming about it!
Day 2: "Boo!" -The Toronto crowd to Floyd Mayweather
A running theme throughout the tour was Mayweather being raucously booed by the fans. While there were pockets of Mayweather supporters in the other cities, Toronto seemed to be unanimously on the side of McGregor.
Every time the Irishman appeared on screen? Loud applause. Every time Mayweather appeared on screen? Vicious jeers.
And that was just the beginning. As the show progressed, Stephen Espinoza and Leonard Ellerbe were met with the same savagery. Chants of "U-F-C" and "Pay your taxes" erupted in as though it was a WWE event. "Ole, ole, ole, ole" rang out sporadically from start to finish.
Mayweather laughed most of it off, but there is no greater testament to McGregor's skills on the microphone than that afternoon in Canada. The fighter had the 15,000-person crowd eating out of the palm of his hand in a way no other athlete could.
Floyd Mayweather Needs to Have Somebody Read This for Him
Day 2: "What’re you doing with a school bag on stage? You can’t even read!" -McGregor on Mayweather's backpack of money.
A few hours after Day 1 ended, this writer wrote "McGregor isn't afraid to 'go there,' and there are plenty of places to go when it comes to Mayweather. When it comes to earnings, though, there wasn't anything he could say."
Well, apparently that was incorrect.
In a reference to Mayweather pulling a $100 million check from a backpack the previous day, McGregor turned the tables by asking "What're you doing with a school bag on stage? You can't even read!"
It was probably the single most vicious one-liner of the entire tour and was the kind of verbal savagery that fans were hoping for after a relatively unimpressive first day.
Day 2: "Hard work! Hard work! Hard work! Hard work!" -Floyd Mayweather starting Day 2 of the Tour the same way he would start every other day.
On paper, Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor is one of the biggest mismatches in the history of combat sports. That has made things difficult for McGregor loyalists when it comes to figuring out a reasonable avenue to victory for the mixed martial artist.
The most common conclusion that fans come to is that McGregor can work his verbal magic, burrow under Mayweather's skin and force him to make mistakes.
It makes sense, to some degree. McGregor picked at Jose Aldo for over a year before they finally faced off at UFC 193. When they did, the Brazilian champ was uncharacteristically overaggressive, resulting in a 13-second knockout.
With the massive crowd behind him, McGregor threw fastball after fastball at Mayweather. Each shot landed, and each shot was the hardest that Mayweather has received in years.
It was a flawless performance by McGregor...and Mayweather didn't even flinch.
After being booed and insulted for 10 minutes, Mayweather walked to the podium and started his half of Day 2 the same way he did Day 1. He was met with boos, but it didn't matter. Nothing McGregor said mattered. Nothing the crowd chanted mattered. He's as untouchable outside the ring as he is in it.
Digging That Hole Deeper
Day 3: "I'm a big fan of the culture...all I listen to is rap!" -Part of McGregor's response to racism allegations.
Eyebrows were raised when Conor McGregor told Floyd Mayweather "dance for me, boy" on the first day. And when he said it again on the second day? Well...let's just say that wasn't met especially well.
McGregor made a bold play by choosing to discuss this on stage on Day 3 of the tour, but he did not do a good job of it. "A lot of people have me saying I'm against black people. That's absolutely ridiculous," McGregor said. "Do they not know I'm half-black? I'm half-black from the belly button down."
When that quip fell flat? He said he had a "present for his beautiful, black, female fans" before gyrating on the stage. It was a bad look for the UFC champion, and it wasn't helped much when he pointed to his fandom of hip-hop afterward as proof that he wasn't racist in an interview with Ariel Helwani.
Is McGregor actually a racist? Probably not, but there's no question that he was careless with his words and exacerbated the problem with his handling of it. There was egg on his face from this which both helped Mayweather turn public perception in his favor, albeit only for a brief time, and will put McGregor under a microscope going forward.
The Pecking Order
Day 3: "You've done a f--king remarkable job. ... And me and you is getting that money. Me and you." -Floyd Mayweather to Dana White.
Floyd Mayweather is, as Luke Thomas of MMAFighting.com says, a boxing institution.
He is the top competitor in the sport. He is the top promoter in the sport. Opponents beg him for the opportunity to lose to him. Commissions beg him to fight under their umbrella. Governments spring him from jail to make sure he can compete.
The difference in power between Mayweather and anyone else in the realm of combat sports is huge, and Conor McGregor is no different to his previous opponents. That fact shined brightest on the third day when Mayweather flaunted how out of his depth McGregor actually was. Not just from a competitive perspective, but from a business perspective.
After showing up hours late to the event and casually dismissing McGregor's roundly terrible performance on the microphone, Mayweather flexed his muscles by talking up UFC President Dana White.
The boxer had previously talked up White, but the reason for this wasn't clear until Thursday. What seemed to be a simple exchanging of pleasantries was a calculated move by Mayweather to further cement the business hierarchy of the stage. There was Mayweather, then The Money Team, then Showtime exec Stephen Espinoza, then White and then, all the way at the bottom, McGregor.
Whether White was suckered by Mayweather or he simply enjoyed watching a fighter he has repeatedly beefed with getting taken down a peg is unclear. Either way, White wasn't just helping Mayweather take home one of the biggest checks of his lucrative career. He was helping him make McGregor look like a stooge.
Day 4: "What's up, Espinoza, you little f--king weasel?" -Conor McGregor to Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza.
Conor McGregor is the most quotable man in combat sports.
The UFC champ has delivered a number of great lines over the years. Philosophical statements, eerily accurate predictions about how his fights will go, earnest elation over how great his life has become. The sound bites come frequently and tend to stick more often than not.
The quotes fans seem to remember most, however, are when he specifically digs into someone he doesn't like. TJ "Snake in the Grass" Dillashaw knows this well, and on the second day of the tour, Stephen "Weasel" Espinoza learned that too.
After having his microphone cut off without warning on the first day, McGregor tore into Showtime in a lengthy rant, with the primary receiver of this being Espinoza. But while McGregor labeled him a "weasel" on the second day, he was full-on branded by the end of the tour, with McGregor barbing him every. Single. Day.
Words are powerful, and McGregor's in particular can sway fans en masse.
A week ago, Espinoza wasn't known to anyone but hardcore fans. Now? He's one of the biggest villains in combat sports.
The Old (Young) Floyd Mayweather
Day 4: "They brought back the vintage Floyd Mayweather." -Mayweather on the world tour speaking to MMAJunkie.com
Floyd Mayweather had fallen into a bit of a rut from a promotional perspective. Yes, he was winning. Yes, he was still the best boxer on the planet...but so what?
His second fight with Marcos Maidana was brutally boring. His bout with Manny Pacquiao was widely panned by fans and critics. His supposed retirement bout with Andre Berto was shrugged off by the public at large.
For better or worse, the "Pretty Boy Floyd" iteration of Mayweather returned during the press event. Brash. Offensive. Eccentric. Hateable. Compelling. McGregor helped re-establish Mayweather as must-see TV in the most guilt-inducing way.
It was quite a ride, albeit one that felt like a slog towards the end. Nonetheless, the tour generated momentum that should carry through to August 26. What will come after that, for fans or any of the actual involved parties, is anyone's guess.