Conor McGregor is fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas tonight at 9pm ET. You can watch the boxing match on TV by paying Showtime, and you can stream it via Showtime, UFC, Sling or Sony.
The paragraph above is for Google users. The rest of this is for Recode readers (including Recode editor in chief Dan Frommer) who may not know who Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather are, why they are fighting, and why lots of people suddenly seem to care about this.
Who are these guys?
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was by most accounts the best boxer of his era. He retired two years ago. He’s American, and he’s 40 years old.
Conor McGregor is a mixed martial arts fighter — which means he punches people, but he also wrestles and kicks them — who has become the biggest star for the UFC league, which has become a big deal in the last decade. He’s Irish, and 29.
Why are they fighting and why is it a big deal?
They’re theoretically fighting because people want to see what happens when a great boxer and a great mixed martial arts fighter square off, which hasn’t happened before. This may not seem like a compelling question to you, but there are estimates that some 5 million people in the U.S. (and a few million more worldwide) might end up paying $100 each to find out the answer tonight. That means a lot of money for Showtime and the UFC, as well as Mayweather and McGregor. Mayweather will make a minimum of $100 million for fighting tonight, and McGregor will get at least $30 million.
Who’s going to win?
Mayweather, says every single person who knows anything about boxing. Shouldn’t be close.
It is a live, unscripted sports event, so anything could happen. But put it this way: If you want to bet on Mayweather winning, you’d have to bet $375 in order to win $100.
So why does anyone care about this?
Because it’s a spectacle, and an oddity, and it’s late summer, and there’s no other big sports/entertainment event competing for their attention.
Well, not exactly. Boxing is as at least as much about the run-up as the fight, and Mayweather and McGregor are great at the run-up. They’ve provided sports media with nearly unlimited trash-talk and other provocations for the past few months.
What kind of provocations?
Well, for instance, check out the pinstripes on the suit McGregor wore to a press event this summer:
LMAO the Suit!!!! pic.twitter.com/B4iL0DZARF— Chase Sherman (@ChaseShermanUFC) July 11, 2017
LOL. Seems like harmless fun, right?
Some people think so. But many others are dismayed that even by the standards of boxing — a sport where people bite off chunks of their opponent’s ears — McGregor and Mayweather have gone too far. Some commentators are particularly troubled by the racial component to the fight — Mayweather is black, McGregor is white. But then again race/ethnicity/nationality have been a big part of pro boxing for at least 100 years.
Oh. Is it that bad?
Combine the hype, the slurs, and the fact that the fight itself is likely to be a complete mismatch, and yes. To some people, it is that bad:
New York Magazine’s Will Leitch: “I can feel chunks of my soul falling off just thinking about it.”
Sports Illustrated’s Charles Pierce: A “glorified cholera outbreak.”
My corporate cousin Spencer Hall at SB Nation: “crap.. I wouldn’t spoon it into a pig’s mouth with a stable boy’s filthiest shovel.” (Technically he’s talking about items he has served at Bennigan’s, but it’s in a story about the fight, so...)
Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay is ok with it, though. He compares it to “a doughnut.”
Wait a minute. Is there a #techangle here?
Sure, if you want. This is a Giant Media Event, which also means it is a Giant Social Media Event. Also, Apple’s Beats By Dre unit is sponsoring McGregor and has made some custom headphones for him:
Dedicated. @TheNotoriousMMA #AboveTheNoise. pic.twitter.com/8nTDRuyUCS— Beats By Dre (@beatsbydre) August 23, 2017
But there must be a Trump angle, right?
Of course. It’s reasonable to argue that the whole thing is the sports version of the political/entertainment climate that led to last fall’s election and its aftermath. More practically: You can bet on how many times the President of the United States will tweet about the fight.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.