The Mayweather/McGregor superfight and Magic.

Something different to usual. The Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight from a distance. The circus and the landmark. It’s significance. Coming together. What we can learn about magic. 

When we look back at different times in our lives, we rarely remember numbers. The dates get hazy but the events and the experiences remain. Sometimes these events and experiences have landmarks attached to them, and it’s from these we orientate ourselves. Some of them are bigger, some of them smaller, some are personal, other’s public; 9/11, the death of David Bowie, the birth of a child, an album release, the toppling of a statue, Conor McGregor’s gambit and tenth round loss to the greatest boxer of the generation. Landmarks.

The only way Conor could have beaten Floyd Mayweather would be with magic. He couldn’t match Floyd on a technical level. The gulf between them was always too wide. You could forgive people for thinking that Conor could conjure something spectacular, and unexpected, he had before, most notably his knock-out of Jose Aldo. That seemed miraculous. Jose had been the champion forever. Literally. The first and only. It seemed like a victory that proved Conor’s magic.

After that it was hard to believe he wasn’t a wizard. He’d made a career out of doing things nobody predicted but himself and he predicted that he would beat Mayweather. There seemed to be a strange mix in play; skill, psychological warfare, and magic. Probably, roughly speaking, in that order. I hoped that if enough people believed along with him, in the biggest and most ridiculous challenge he’d created for himself, we might tip the balance in his favour, the universe would see that it was time for the upset of the ages.

Now it’s the end of summer. The nights are getting shorter. Maybe there’s a little less magic in the world. The sensible position—as declared by sensible people—is that there isn’t any. The universe is basically dead, besides for us and whatever organisms are out there. And so the question is open, if Conor McGregor needed magic to win and he lost, does that mean we should draw the miserable conclusion that there really isn’t any magic in the world, even in the universe?

McGregor shouldn’t have made it out of round five, shouldn’t have landed anything, definitely shouldn’t have landed more strikes than Paquiao. He did all those things. Then he managed to stay standing after his early power-start and subsequent beating from Mayweather. Just about. Conor couldn’t beat Floyd, but he was able to hang with him for 9 rounds. He was tough. He didn’t embarrass himself.

The early rounds had hilarious moments with Conor throwing oddly angled strikes and rough housing whenever they got close. He had to be reminded it wasn’t a wrestling match, and good; he should have imposed himself, should have tested the rules, should have wrestled, should have darted around to Mayweather’s back—a reminder that in a ‘real’ fight, or in an MMA bout, or, really, in almost any other combat sports arena, McGregor would have been able to end it in the first round.

The rounds McGregor did win, boxing pundits say were given to him, all part of the Money Mayweather gameplan. It might have been, but that doesn’t change those strikes that landed or the moments of hope that hung close by when those strikes found their mark. Especially that sharp uppercut. Not many fights will really get you on the edge of your seat, not too many are white knuckle rides, even less are emotional experiences.

All those landmarks in time, they will have emotional resonance. Some of them will be justifying experiences, moments during which the existential crisis is lifted, no longer a fog at the back of your mind. It’s more likely at a concert than a boxing match (unless you’re the one boxing) but when combat sports does bring that feeling, it is a lot more visceral. Any claims to the contrary come from a generally elitist or moralistic bias—music is culture and higher than the toiling of men and women who want to swing their meat fists at one another. Our trip is better than your trip, more valid and more civilised. Yet there are few things more indicative of civilisation than fighting and few things in the range of human experience more intense.

So, what is the defeat of Conor McGregor? It’s a good measure on how far smiling Gods, luck, magic, whatever, will get you. It shows you that if you cultivate it, and you must cultivate it—to be a magician takes work—then you can come a long way providing you also have the prerequisite skill set. This moment in 2017, our transition from summer to autumn, will be marked by a man seeking victory, falling short, and finding glory just the same. Glory and money. People will remember Conor McGregor, the 15 second knockout of Jose Aldo, the war with Diaz, the dissection of Eddie Alvarez, the loss to Mayweather, the ridiculous predictions that he made and the many he delivered on. There’s something to learn in each of these things.

I was with my friends for this fight, seven of us turned out, almost the whole tribe. As adult life gets in the way of real life, events that bring everyone together are rarer and rarer. None of them left until the sun had risen. It was nearly 7am. Nothing here was a disappointment. This is all something to keep in heart more than in mind. Still, there’s a lot to study and a lot to think about. Most of that happened before the fight took place, some of it was during, and there will be more in the coming days. Not least will be a lot of manoeuvring from all interested parties. The boxers will have to consider their position, the McGregor fans and McGregor himself will have to consider their’s, but consistent and solid throughout is the grandeur of the whole thing and its presence in the hearts of millions, it’s position as a landmark in time, the fight that brought in the Autumn, and which showed how far a lot of skill and a bit of magic will take you.



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About Luke Smith

I travel around and write about it. When I'm not travelling around, I write about whatever seems meaningful to me at the time; these are usually meditations on current events, finding ways to survive the crushing existential grind of modern civilisation or vaguely philosophical musings.
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