The more people that believe Conor McGregor has any kind of chance to beat Floyd Mayweather, the more pay-per-views the fight will sell and the more both men will add to the already extraordinary amount of money they stand to pocket.
To that end, there has been a concerted scramble over the past two months to try to convince the public that what appears in every way a total mismatch will actually be a competitive scrap on Aug. 26, an effort of persuasion that has not fallen entirely upon the shoulders of the McGregor camp.
Even Mayweather and his own advisor Leonard Ellerbe have been at pains to talk up McGregor’s chances of springing an almighty shock. Without any real evidence to cling to, a familiar refrain has been leaned on heavily.
It goes something like this: McGregor is a southpaw. Mayweather struggles against southpaws. The awkward style of left-handed fighters is the perfect antidote to his defensive technique. Punches coming from different angles make him more susceptible to taking heavy shots.
In some quarters, the narrative has been swallowed, mostly because this event has been promoted well enough that millions now want to believe McGregor has an opportunity to create history, and they are willing to suspend reality to allow the charade to continue.
There is just one problem: It is founded on logic so shaky that it wouldn’t withstand the feeblest of left hooks.
“The whole southpaw thing is not going to make any difference,” heavyweight legend George Foreman told USA TODAY Sports. “What, are we supposed to think that Floyd has never fought a southpaw before? Look at his record, and look at what happened.”
Mayweather’s record is 49-0 as a professional. He has rarely been severely tested, with perhaps the sole exception of his 2002 clash with Jose Luis Castillo, a fight Castillo dominated before getting stiffed on the scorecards.
The southpaw philosophy has been around for a while, and it is something Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White leaped upon early in the promotional tour.
“If there is a kink in (Mayweather’s) armor, it has been with southpaws,” White said. “That is one thing he has had some trouble with.”
But Mayweather didn’t have a jot of trouble against southpaw Robert Guerrero in 2013. Apart from an early flurry, Mayweather bounced back strongly against Zab Judah in 2006. DaMarcus Corley, another lefty, was handled comfortably in 2004. Most significant of all, he fought the best southpaw of recent times, Manny Pacquiao, and cruised to a dull unanimous points decision two years ago.
Yet even Ellerbe jumped in, trying to make a case for McGregor, who has never fought professionally but has won titles in the UFC at featherweight and lightweight.
“Conor McGregor has got that awkward southpaw style and that gives him the chance to make life difficult for Floyd,” Ellerbe said. “It is not easy when you have got a guy coming at you from different angles and in a different way. We are confident in Floyd’s ability like we always are, but it is not easy when you are dealing with something different to normal.”
The southpaw argument may have held a little more weight earlier in Mayweather’s career. Bob Arum, who promoted Mayweather for more than a decade, has repeatedly stated that the fighter was resistant to fighting left-handers during their time together.
In reality, his boxing experience is so superior to McGregor’s that it is unlikely he has given the issue any serious thought. In any case, he expects the Irishman to adopt an unconventional and mixed game plan.
“With McGregor, he looks to come out,” Mayweather said. “He is going to come out and he will keep switching. I know what he’s going to do. I already know. He will come out southpaw then switch to the other way, keep switching but you can switch and all you are doing is burning energy. So let me give him some knowledge. If you keep switching, you are burning too much energy.”
And the fact remains that whether Mayweather dislikes facing or southpaws or not, he’s never lost to one.
“Last time I checked,” he added, “I haven’t lost to anyone.”