In case you're worried that August 26's superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor won't be enough of a spectacle for you, rest assured. In case you thought that now that the fight has been announced the two fighters would cloister themselves away in respectful silence, not to be heard from again until the moment they step into the ring, fear not. In case you're scared that McGregor and Mayweather are the kinds of fighters who, when faced with the biggest challenge of their professional careers, forego the temptations of verbal confrontations and meaningless photo opportunities for the sake of monkish devotion to training and the philosophy of asceticism, well then you're clearly not paying attention.
Considering the kind of men Mayweather and McGregor are—masters of the art of self-promotion, poets and painters who use themselves for brushes, paints, pens, and words—there was never any reasonable doubt that the fight between the two would be anything less than a circus: more circus than sporting event, really. No surprise then that the two men will be taking much-needed time away from their respective training camps (much-needed for Floyd because he's now 40 years old and two years removed from competitive fighting, much-needed for Conor because he's not a boxer) to go on a world tour of press conferences over the next two months, so convinced are they of their ability to spin words into dollars and so concerned are some fans that they might miss hearing a single taunt.
Though nothing is official yet, word is starting to get around that the first stop on the circus tour will be Wembley Stadium in London. Legendary Wembley, the second-biggest stadium in Europe. 90,000 seats. Home of absurdly large music performances, extremely significant European football matches, and totally meaningless American football games. Word is that two weeks from now they will build a stage on one end of the soccer field (see, "football pitch"), open the doors to the public, and bring out Mayweather and McGregor to, I don't know, jaw at each other for an hour or so, I suppose. Once onstage, McGregor will no doubt reiterate his belief that Mayweather is too old to fight, while Mayweather will likely point out that McGregor has never fought a professional boxing match in his life in between throwing shout-outs to his various companies and promotional ventures. Maybe at some point the two men will compare fur coats and entourage sizes, like peacocks preening.
For such a spectacle authorities expect 10,000 people to show up. 10,000.
Call me cynical, but this is the part of the circus I don't understand. Despite the athletic absurdity of an MMA fighter being given a chance to fight the greatest boxer of his generation, the seductive thrill of the event itself is impossible to deny, its narratives built-in: Will Conor land even a single punch? Will Floyd have lost a step? Do MMA skills, no matter how sublime, translate into the boxing ring? Will this fight signal the end of boxing? The end of Conor McGregor? The end of every assumption of every self-regarding sports pundit in the world? These questions are too juicy to stay away from the fight. But gathering in a crowd of 10,000 to watch those same two men talk at each other, no matter how good their patter may be—it's beyond me. Gore Vidal debating William F. Buckley? Sure. James Baldwin and Norman Mailer going at it? Definitely. But Mayweather and McGregor jawing at each other, swearing over and over by the power of their fists and the speed of their feet, all the while gazing greedily at the other's stack of dollar bills, never acknowledging the conspiracy they've created together, never letting on that the fix is in, never even hinting that the con is on? To witness it would make me feel like a sucker. Best to stay away, I think, and wait until the men are actually in the ring facing each other to tune in. Then I can maintain at least a modicum of dignity. Otherwise I risk losing my sanity in the marketing madness and my soul in the spectacle and my self-respect in the great con.