May-Mac 2 or Conor-Pac? Why Conor McGregor Should Box Again

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2020

Conor McGregor, left, fights Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a super welterweight boxing match Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Associated Press

Guess who's back/Back again

Conor's back/Tell a friend

OK, let's face it. Unless you're close to someone who resides in a cave or on a deserted island, there's a good chance they're already aware of what went down last weekend in Las Vegas. But on the off chance they aren't—and they missed the dated Eminem reference, too—here it is in a nutshell.

Conor McGregor is once again the center of the mixed martial arts universe.

And it's legit this time.

John Locher/Associated Press

So, for fans of the oft-caustic Irishman, it's good to have something fistic to ponder once again.

And we're not just talking small, sequentially numbered UFC potatoes.

Instead, thanks to his timely re-ascension, McGregor is pondering the sorts of targets who'd be more than happy to punch him but figure to go a bit lighter on the neck cranks and rear-naked chokes.

Toward that end, we give you Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Sure, they're each in their 40s. 

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Yes, they're both a decade (or more, depending on who you ask) past their boxing primes.

They're also something else alongside.

Still two of the very biggest names—regardless of current pound-for-pound status—in combat sports and co-principals in the biggest-selling pay-per-view fight of all time.

Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

You remember, right? It went for about $100 a pop, and still drew better than 4 million buys.

Speaking of big numbers, it wasn't too long ago that McGregor dipped his own toe into the squared circle for the first time—going nearly 10 full rounds with the very same Mayweather and happily sharing the windfall in what wound up as the second-biggest pay-per-view fight in history.

See where we're going here?

Though many in the Twitter-verse chose to spit on those fights as way beyond a respectable sell-by date or nothing less than a full-on mockery of competitive athletics, there was no shortage of folks compelled enough, curious enough or simply bored enough to give them a look.

As for Mayweather, Pacquiao and McGregor, well...let's just say they made out OK, too.

So why in the world, now that the mainstream iron is hot, wouldn't they want to strike it again?

Especially Conor.

Though he'd still be a prohibitive underdog so long as either fight takes place outside a cage, he wouldn't stand across from either pugilist with zero chance to pull off the upset.

Don't forget, the bout with Mayweather was 880 days ago.

And while McGregor hasn't been a blur of activity since, he's presumably far closer to competitive full strength than "Money," who'll turn 43 in February and has barely one round of widely panned exhibition work against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa since the McGregor fight.

Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

Do the math.

McGregor's momentum plus Mayweather's rust equals just enough reason to book a rematch of what was, at least to the untrained combat eye, a reasonably competitive fight.

Maybe Mayweather has slowed enough to let McGregor's power land. Maybe Mayweather won't have gas in the tank if it gets to double-digit rounds again. And maybe the referee won't stop it this time, at least until someone gets knocked down.

All that, plus some clever marketing and maybe a media tour brawl or two, and you've got something.

The idea of a Pacquiao bout might be even better, though.

Though the Filipino hero is amid a renaissance that's yielded five wins—and a disputed loss—in six post-Mayweather bouts, he's probably a much safer bet for McGregor in terms of competition.

Not only would the MMA star outmeasure his boxer foe in both height (5'9" to 5'5½") and reach (74 inches to 67), but the mesh of styles ought to prove far more likely to spring a surprise as well.

John Locher/Associated Press

Pacquiao, a self-described fan-friendly fighter, is at his best when the going gets heated, which presumably means he wouldn't present the same conundrum to McGregor—still a comparative novice when using fists only—as a more risk-averse Mayweather.

Imagine, rather than chasing quarry with the hope it'll stand still long enough for a kill shot, McGregor struts to center ring and finds himself in with an able but, more importantly, willing adversary.

Not surprisingly, given a common thirst for revenue, the prospect of a clash with "PacMan" has already generated more than a rumor's worth of interest from Team Notorious.

"We were actually close to signing Manny. Me and Manny, there's been talks about the fight," McGregor told ESPN's Ariel Helwani ahead of his fight with Donald Cerrone. "There was an offer made on that ... just not yet. It's very much so (a possibility in the future)."

Speaking for the fans—casual, hardcore and otherwise—that future can't come soon enough.

After all, who doesn't like the circus?