The Shallow Science... McGregor vs Mayweather

It's fight week... fight day in fact. Happy fight day! If you've been living under a rock, tonight is the night of one of the most anticipated boxing matches in modern memory as the undefeated, 49-0 living legend that is Floyd Mayweather Jr faces off against one of the most controversial and outspoken men in MMA history - "The Notorious" Conor McGregor.

Why is it significant? Well, strictly speaking, it's kind of a freak show. Technically speaking, it's Conor McGregor's debut boxing match - which doesn't bode well for him right? From a layman's perspective, absolutely. Conor is fucked. Not a cat in hell's chance. Unless you look into what he can actually do in his own sport.

For those who don't know, whether it's through inexperience or ignorance, Conor is arguably the best MMA fighter in the world right now. MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is a mix of loads of fighting disciplines - grappling, submissions, kicks and notably, boxing. McGregor fights in the UFC where he's a multi-weight World Champion and the most watched guy in their history (based on their Pay Per View buy rates). In fact, four out of the five most watched PPVs in UFC history have had a Conor McGregor main event - which is the reason that Floyd "Money" Mayweather has come calling.

For those who aren't in the know - Boxing is hurting right now. There aren't any "stars", as has been the criticism for a few years now. If we take the current "best" pound for pound fighter Andre Ward (The Ring Magazine) as an example and pit him against Conor in a purely PPV business sense, you get some pretty damning reading. Ward's last two fights, both versus Sergey Kovalev, drew 165,000 and 125,000 PPV buys respectively. If we move to Conor's last two, he fought Nate Diaz to avenge his previous loss and it drew 1,650,000 buys, with a follow-up bout against Eddie Alvarez drawing 1,300,000. The numbers look roughly the same for ticket and gate revenue too - Boxing is hurting, which makes it all the more baffling to read some of the comments from both former and current boxers on this fight.

I've read many, with terms like "farce", "showbiz" and "mismatch" being thrown around - but my favourite one that stuck out was this peach from former Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis: "I wouldn't count a fight like this as a 'fight'".  The reason for his comment seems to come from a lack of trust, and even respect to a degree: "Is McGregor going to throw a kick because obviously when he resorts to boxing and realises he is no match for Mayweather".

First and foremost here, let's start way back at the beginning - Conor McGregor started life as an amateur boxer. I say that to say this - so did Lennox Lewis. So did Mayweather and so did every other professional boxer to step into the ring. If you believe that success in any discipline comes from a combination of hard work, raw talent and ability, then Conor is on equal footing with anyone else who steps into a boxing ring at the point of his debut. This isn't some dude off the street - this is a multi-weight fighting World Champion. It's a different sport, but it's as valuable here as anything else.

In an alternate timeline, Conor could well have been a boxer. He played football too - he could've done that... but Conor saw the chance to make his mark in a growing sport and decided that MMA was for him. Now, I'm not saying for a second that Conor McGregor would've been a World Champion in the boxing world, but the disrespect that he is being shown by that world is staggering. This idea that boxing is this protected discipline is staggering. If we're calling a spade a spade here - if this fight was as much of a farce as it's being claimed from that side, then the Nevada State Athletic Commission would not have sanctioned it. Boxing is complicated, but they trust that Conor has the ability to defend himself without being seriously hurt.

Finally, there's a wildcard thrown into the mix. Conor McGregor is known as a power puncher in the UFC - he's a counter-fighter, but he has the power in his left hand to do some real damage to anybody - and he'll be wearing 8-ounce gloves. This is an interesting choice, with boxers at this weight usually having to wear 10-ounce gloves. Now, two ounces likely isn't going to make any difference to the conditioning of the two, but it's closer to a 4-ounce glove that Conor is used to. It also provides less protection when the fighter lands a punch - and Floyd Mayweather has had issues with broken hands in the past. Granted, he always fights through and granted, Conor will actually have to find him in order to hurt him, but the fact remains that if Conor comes at Floyd in a way that he's not seen before, it could be interesting.

Now obviously, the build-up has been pure pantomime, but they've built it to a point where there are an estimated 50million people ready to watch - it's going to break all records and it's potentially the shot in the arm that boxing needs... to a point. See, regardless of the result, the boxing world falls into another bind after this. The biggest commercial boxing match in history will have been put on by two men who likely have no intention of fighting in this arena again. Win or lose, Conor will slip back into his role as the UFC's biggest star and Floyd will go back to his day job as a rich, big time baller.

So, when the spotlight finally falls onto the ring in the T-Mobile Arena tonight at Stupid O'Clock (for me, being in England), and the talking is all done, there's a good chance you're going to see something out of this world. What will Conor have planned? How long will it go? Will Floyd want to dominate and outclass him? Will Paulie and Lennox Lewis be making their money off Conor? Fuck knows, but I'm putting a tenner on McGregor winning by Knock Out.

 

Scandal in British Boxing? Amir Khan and Anthony Joshua.

Popular British Boxer, Amir Khan and his wife Faryal Makhdoom have rather publicly separated from each other after a turbulent 4 years of marriage. The marriage was initially plagued by disapproval by Amir’s family, ultimately resulting in Amir’s estrangement from them. It was then rocked by several cheating scandals by Amir, culminating in a leaked sex tape in January of this past year.

 

After all this you might ask, what was the straw that broke the camel’s back? This morning Amir Khan took to twitter to publicly announce his separation from Faryal, accusing her of being a “gold digger”, and of having an affair with Anthony Joshua. Anthony Joshua is another British Boxer who has just come off a massive win over boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko.

 

Prompting his wife to come back at him on her twitter by saying that she is the primary breadwinner in the family, via her cosmetics line, and that he was merely trying to compensate for his stalling boxing career by accusing AJ so publically.

 

It should be noted that Amir Khan is notorious for drumming up twitter drama to try and angle at fights that are beyond what many would consider his caliber. So is this an attempt by Amir to take advantage of his failing marriage to drum up a fight against one of the hottest British fighters in recent memory? Or do we have a serious scandal on our hands?

 

Tune into Amir and Faryal’s twitters to find out, cause that’s what I’ll be doing!

UPDATE 08/04, 11:00 EST

-Anthony Joshua has "bantz aside" denied all involvment in an affair claiming that he "prefers his women bbw" 

MMA- The Passion of Demetrious Johnson

When you talk about who the best pound for pound fighter in Mixed Martial arts several names come up. One name that may not come up as often amongst casual fans is Demetrious Johnson's. This, is the crux of the media nightmare that is about to hit Dana White and the UFC.

IMG_4266.JPG

Demetrious Johnson has recently released a statement via sbnation, contending that Dana White is actively keeping him and flyweights off of UFC and under representing him and his division when it comes to marketing for these events.

Now, its no secret that Dana White is prone to playing favorites when it comes to booking and promoting fighters, however, until now it has always been in way that could benefit the UFC.

Was Rhonda Rousey the juggernaut the UFC had marketed her as being? Not quite, but she was charismatic, interviewed well, and had a tremendous image. This combined with UFC's marketing of her helped to bring a lot of eyes, and more importantly dollars, to the UFC's product.

While Jon Jones may be a contender for greatest fighter of all time, he has some personal issues that makes him a, less than ideal role model. However he also displays that same charisma and turns every press conference into an event.

Now, Demetrious Johnson is also in the conversation for greatest fighter of all time, right there with Jon Jones. However, to place it lightly his personality is milk toast. He's soft spoken, courteous and polite at press conferences. Since he isn't as divisive as a Jon Jones or as media friendly as Rhonda Rousey he isn't marketed as a top star like they are. 

But lets look at his stats and accolades. He is the current longest reigning champion in the history of the UFC. He is tied with Anderson Silva for most consecutive title defenses at 10. He's won 2 Fight of the Nights, 3 Performance of the Nights, 1 Submission of the Night and 1 Knockout of the Night. 

IMG_4267.JPG

What he lacks in personality he more than makes up for in the cage. So when push comes to shove, Dana White has to decide whether he wants to run an entertainment focused brand based on who is more electric to the media, or he wants to focus on his competitors?

The NBA's Dark Knights

“You either die a hero a here, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent (The Dark Knight)

This quote comes to mind whenever I think of the Golden State Warriors. Loved by the majority of the San Francisco Bay Area faithful. Vilified by a large chunk of fans for creating the best “SUPER Team” we have seen. I’m often left wondering how did this team that is primarily homegrown has gone being loved as one of the league’s most exciting teams, to being cast as its greatest villain.

The Warriors are one of the cockiest teams in the NBA. They take shots and run back without looking, they dance, they shout, without being called out the way that many teams would.

The heart of their team is the polarizing Draymond Green. While praised for his defensive tenacity he has built up a reputation as a dirty player, highlighted in the 2016 playoffs. From throwing down Michael Beasley against the Rockets, to repeated kicking Steven Adams below the belt. It was highlighted with his suspension from game five of the 2016 Finals following an altercation with Lebron James, that many believe cost the Warriors a chance at repeating as NBA Champions.

After a few years of promise under Mark Jackson, the Warriors had a coming out party under the lead of Steve Kerr. Posting a record of 67-15 and winning a NBA Championship in 2015. Despite winning the title, the team was met with criticisms for beating injured teams and people were turned off by the antics of the aforementioned Green at the team’s championship parade.

The Warriors took those criticisms from the 2015 campaign and parlayed them into a 73-9 record in 2016. The team’s owner Joe Lacob would dub the team “Light-years ahead of everyone else”. With those 73 wins it looked to be the case until the clock his 00:00 in game seven. People took this time to bash the team as Lebron, Kyrie, and Co. raised the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Their finals failure would lead to the moment that turned the Warriors from tweeners to full-fledged heels. The signing of Kevin Durant and the formation of the NBA’s latest “Super Team”. Durant and Golden State have been vilified ever since as if they were the NBA’s version of the Yankees and buying their way to a championship.

These fans forget that for the majority of their existence the Warriors have been among the NBA’s bottom feeders. With an almost permanent reservation for June’s Draft Lottery. Before the last 5 seasons, the Warriors had made the playoffs only six times since the 1986-87 season. In that time, they were never seen as a real contender.

The Warriors we see today were not a product of major trades like the 2008 Champion Celtics with Garnett, Pierce, and Allen. They were not built solely on Free Agency, like the Big 3 in Miami with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh. The Warriors were built through luck in the draft and in free agency since 2009 when they drafted Steph Curry. The Dubs acquired Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green through the draft. Green, now an All-Star, and Defensive Player of the Year contender was a second round pick. No one knew what these players would become but they created the core of 73-win team, and a team that has gone 13-0 as of this writing in the playoffs.

With that core in the draft, the Warriors supplemented it with free agent signings like Andre Iguodala, and Shawn Livingston before this season. We cannot forget the backlash from the Monte Ellis trade that brought Andrew Bogut into the fold. These signings and the Dubs missing on Deandre Jordan and Dwight Howard set the stage for their ascension from team on the rise to title favorite. They could not plan on Steph’s ankle issues allowing the team to sign him at a Wal-Mart discount.

All of these pieces fell into place for the Warriors to sign arguably the second best player in the NBA. This was not the 49ers and Cowboys taking 1-year flyers on Deon Sanders to put them over the top in runs to the Super Bowl. Of Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green, only Durant was not homegrown. They did it how many people say it should be done, “build through the draft and supplement through free agency”.

“You can die a hero”, think of how fondly the “We Believe” 8th Seed Warriors are thought of. “Or you live long enough to become the villain”, these Warriors did not fade away after their magical run in 2013, and you see what they are now…  

Michael Jordan vs Lebron James - Moussa's Take

Regarding the provoking “”””thought”””” pieces by my colleagues Geraldo Wuvera and Warren Leighvon, I must firmly stand opposed to them both. When you talk about who the Greatest of All Time is you have to forget teams, you have to forget stats, and you have to forget every single qualifier regarding your hypothetical conclusion. When all is said and done the ONLY thing that matters is who would be the greatest basketball player man to man, one on one.

While the argument could be made for either one of these men to be the greatest of all time five on five. One on one however, the greatest basketball player of all time is none other than the Big Baller himself,

IMG_4230.GIF

Lavar Ball.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Moussa, what are you saying? Lavar Ball is an NFL washout, he never played in the NBA!” To which I would eloquently reply, “Shut up Dummy, grab your shovel and pickaxe and get ready to dig into what I’m about to say.”

 

One on one basketball isn’t about your stats, it's isn’t about style, hell, it isn’t even about how well you can ball. It's about physical dominance on the court, and it's about how well you can impose your physical dominance on the court. Let's look at some real stats:

 

Lebron James: 6’8”, 250 lbs, 7’ Wingspan

Michael Jordan: 6’ 6”, 216 lbs, 6’ 11” Wingspan

Lavar Ball: 6’ 6”, 320 lbs, 7’ Wingspan

 

I think it's pretty clear, Lavar Ball would have a cake walk with Michael Jordan. You take away his ability to muscle his way into the paint and what do you have left? A 50/50 shooter who’s gunna get badgered by a more physically dominant player.

 

Now, Lebron James is a closer call, but I have to give the edge to Lavar Ball. While Lebron is slightly taller, the two are even on wing span and Lavar outweighs him by 70 lbs. You see the same scenario unfold here, Lavar will keep Lebron out of the paint with sheer physicality and let Lebron brick himself out of the game.

 

Now the real matchup for greatest of all time? Lavar Ball, or Charles Barkley?

IMG_4104.JPG