byand Esther Lin, Showtime Jul 12, 2017, 12:29am EDT
LOS ANGELES — Floyd Mayweather drew chants. He talked a bit of trash. He pulled a $100 million check out of a designer backpack. And he paraded around the stage repeatedly.
The performance Tuesday on stage at the first stop on the MayMac World Tour at Staples Center was one part “Money Mayweather” and one part “Pretty Boy Floyd.” It was a throwback to the old days, Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza told MMA Fighting.
“Floyd, as he’s gotten older, he’s definitely mellowed,” Espinoza said. “If you look back at De La Hoya-Mayweather, Floyd did a lot of talking, a lot of needling Oscar throughout that press tour. Floyd is in a different place now. I don’t know exactly what to make of it. It is a little bit out of character. I think if I had to guess, it’s little bit of competitiveness and pride. Conor came out and had a standup comedy routine. The crowd ate it up. I think the entertainer in Floyd said I can’t come up here and give a bunch of cliches. He dished it out just like he took it.”
McGregor was the first to give his speech after being introduced by UFC president Dana White. He admitted he wasn’t used to the format. In UFC press conferences, there’s usually a dais, a seat and more of a repartee. McGregor said he didn’t plan on a monologue. But, of course, he mostly nailed it anyway, joking that Mayweather was wearing a tracksuit because he couldn’t afford a real suit.
Mayweather, the 49-0 legendary boxer, shot back saying he was the A-side because McGregor needed to leave MMA for boxing for a fight of this magnitude. He referred to McGregor as “easy work.”
The Downtown Los Angeles crowd was heavily pro-McGregor, which wasn’t totally shocking. But given that Mayweather is an American with ties to the region and McGregor is from Ireland, Espinoza did say it caught him a bit off-guard.
“I was surprised,” Espinoza said. “Floyd has a couple of places here. He spends a good amount of time in LA. He’s an LA-Vegas guy. But I think what you saw was the passion of the McGregor fans. He’s really connected with them, on social media and in person. He’s such a big personality that people really, really get attached to him.”
McGregor is the biggest earner in the history of the UFC. Mayweather is the same for boxing. And that is why, though many don’t think it will be a competitive boxing match, it is likely to draw in excess of 3 million — maybe even more than 4 million — buys on pay per view. This world tour, which goes on to Toronto, New York and caps in London is a very good indicator of financial potential, Espinoza said. This one, he said, is already bigger than previous Mayweather tours.
“This press tour is an entirely different level,” Espinoza said. “The Canelo press tour was much longer, but we weren’t looking at stops with 10 or 13,000 people in advance. We could have done probably a half dozen more cities without a problem. It was a matter of hours before all the venues said they were out of tickets and then expanded their plans. It speaks really well for the interest in the fight.
“I’m aware there is some backlash among the boxing purists. But this is — as Floyd has said — it’s a fight that happened because of the demand. If they had sort of thrown the idea out there and it got no traction, we wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
Mayweather and McGregor had interesting faceoffs, the two took each other down on the mic and McGregor even had a mostly humorous verbal altercation with Floyd Sr. during a press conference.
In other words, everything you’d expect from the two larger-than-life personalities on the first day of the trip.
“Floyd and Conor didn’t disappoint,” Espinoza said. “Everybody was really looking forward to this for entertainment value. What you got was some real emotion. It wasn’t a put on. You can see there’s some genuine heat there and that’s what fans wanted to see.
“The expectations were really high for the entertainment value and I think everybody who came was excited. And we did phenomenal numbers online, which are starting to trickle in. Way beyond everything we’ve ever done online for an event like this.”