Contrived and compelling. For better or worse, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor embody these contradictions.

To buy into the Mayweather-McGregor hype is to grabble with the very fabric of sport.

Audacious cash grab driven by novelty? Or the chance to prove the power to surprise?

Therein lies the paradoxical lure.

The outcome seems a fait accompli... and yet intrigue comes with the unlikeliest of underdog triumphs.


With a single bet of $1.2 million placed on Mayweather, a McGregor victory would have to rank alongside sports greatest upsets; up there with James "Buster" Douglas over Mike Tyson and Japan toppling the Springboks at the 2015 World Cup.

Just as easily, this fight could prove to be the biggest heist in sporting history.

Sometimes it is best to set expectations as low as possible. Not just with the Wallabies, either. This seems particularly apt as the boxing and MMA worlds prepare to collide.

A genuine contest is not all we crave from professional sport but it is a good start.

As Mayweather's polarising presence emerges for surely his final bow, once again the frustration is this fight will not deliver on that front.

We've been here so many times before, with seemingly much more talented boxers than McGregor, who is in fact not at boxer at all.

Please, not another farcical flop.

Exorbitant price tags attached to tickets (ranging from $2800 in the nose bleeds to $10,800 for inner ringside) and pay-per-view ($100 a pop in the States) suggests this is a premier event.

But look past the stage-managed press conferences, bizarre outfits, tiresome trash talk, and another dud is exactly what we should expect on Sunday (NZT) in Vegas.

At least if we go in with that mindset there is the slim chance of being pleasantly surprised. Better that approach than pinning your hopes on McGregor flooring the villain, only to be disappointed by another Mayweather defensive masterclass.

We learnt this the hard way with the Manny Pacquiao 'megafight' flop.

At a time when the heavyweight division roars back into life, and fights such as Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez's exceptional middleweight battle loom, Mayweather-McGregor has riled boxing purists who bemoan the circus nature of it all.

Lennox Lewis can't take it seriously.

"It's ridiculous to me. Every battle sport always starts with your hands, but they are two totally different sports.

"Everybody wants to know what's going to happen. Is McGregor going to throw a kick because obviously when he resorts to boxing and realises he is no match for Mayweather, what will he do? How will he get around that?"

Oscar De La Hoya, the hall of fame champion who lost a split decision to Mayweather in 2007, agrees.

Who said it: McGregor v Mayweather edition

"After this fight neither of them will need us anymore. Floyd will go back to retirement - presumably for good this time with another nine-figure paycheck - Conor will go back to the UFC. It's a win-win for them. It's a lose-lose for us."

Mayweather has built his unbeaten career on, essentially, being hated; in the hope someone knocks him out. He is a man who cultivates scorn for his long history of domestic violence; his arrogant attitude towards wealth and tendency to duck opponents at various stages of his career.

For all that ugliness, there is no denying his boxing beauty; his speed, movement, evasiveness and counter punching ability. Call it boring if you must but appreciate the art of not being hit in a sport where that is the purpose.

In 49 fights multiple world champions have failed to pick Mayweather's lock. Now McGregor, his supreme confidence and Irish lionheart aside, is tasked with cracking that code in his first professional boxing bout.

Mayweather would never stand a chance in the Octagon, where knees, kicks, elbows and grappling are permitted. McGregor appears only slightly better off in the boxing ring.

McGregor's challenge is clear. Accustomed to throwing first phase combinations in four ounce gloves and regularly dropping opponents with powerful strikes, he must now adjust to eight ounce gloves that take the sting away and someone who will be more than content to see him come forward. He will need to utilise his unorthodox southpaw style, and comparative youth.

Mayweather gives up 11 years but, deserving or not, he was always going to return with the intent of surpassing Rocky Marciano's esteemed record as a heavyweight.

Mayweather's ego is too encompassing to break routine and chase his first knockout in six years. He will stick to the outside, keep his chin behind the lead shoulder and let McGregor throw.

When the bell sounds on this fight or farce the result is likely to be entirely predictable. And the stars of the show are predicted to walk away with up to $400 million between them.

Sport or entertainment? The lines appear blurred.

Will you be watching?