Johannesburg - What would make a 40-year-old pugilist who has amassed a personal wealth of about $650 million (R8.3 billion) and has an unblemished 49-0-0 record venture back into the square jungle called a boxing ring?
This is just one of many questions prompted by Wednesday’s announcement that former undisputed world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather had put pen to paper to fight Irish UFC champion Conor McGregor.
Other questions revolved around how the fight, to be staged at the 20 000-seater T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, came about, its importance for both sports and whether it was just a money-making circus or a farce, as the BBC called it.
How big will the fight be?
UFC president Dana White summed it all up when he said:
“It’s definitely going to be the biggest fight in combat sports history and it’s probably going to be the biggest pay day.
"All sides involved are pretty happy with their deals.”
Putting everything aside and looking purely at the fighters, they fit the bill to produce such a mega-fight.
Mayweather is a slick customer who outsmarted all his 49 opponents, while McGregor, who has been described as a brash, overconfident braggart, has proved his worth in the UFC space.
It does seem that the fight is indeed more about money, given that Mayweather’s moniker is “Money”, that he goes around carrying about $30 000 in $100 bills and also likes posting pictures of bricks of money to his social-media accounts.
For this fight, Mayweather is set to receive about $200 million. McGregor will reportedly get at least $100 million.
For McGregor, who is said to have been earning only $235 in welfare pay cheques in his home town of Dublin a mere five years ago, and earned $16 000 when he made his UFC debut in 2013, this is megabucks by any standards.
The fight is expected to gross about $500 million from ticket sales and pay-per-view subscriptions.
Teasing and taunting:
This is another element that could have led to the fight materialising.
While on American chat show Conan, McGregor said he would “most certainly dismantle” Mayweather.
To which the motormouth American pugilist retorted: “You’re the B-side. I’m the A-side.
"We are not here to cry about money. You’re blowing smoke up everybody’s arse.”
He also called his soon-to-be opponent a “little punk”.
Mayweather has a clean 49-0-0 record with 26 knockouts.
The 28-year-old McGregor – who is 12 years younger than his foe – has won 21 of his 24 mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, 18 by way of knockout.
A look at the standings of Mayweather and McGregor reflects experience against youth (see tale of the tape).
Not the first time:
This will not be the first time fighters from different combat sports come up against each other.
Way back in 1976, Muhammad Ali took on Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki in a bout that was declared a draw.
In August 2010, three-weight boxing champion James Toney faced MMA fighter Randy Couture.
The fight ended within a minute when Couture produced a single-leg takedown followed by a series of unanswered punches that led to the fight being stopped.
Boxer Ray Mercer beat former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in 2009.
Traditional boxing rules set by the Nevada State Athletic Commission will apply and McGregor has shown his commitment by obtaining a professional boxing licence.