ESPN The Magazine’s Fighting Issue details how divided sports fans are about watching the highly anticipated August 26 bout between MMA champion Conor McGregor and undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather.

Writers Dan Rafael and Brett Okamoto share some insight about their collaborative piece “Tale of the Tape.”


What were some of the challenges with the “tale of the tape” format?

DR: To keep it to the short length because there is a lot to say about Mayweather and McGregor.

BO: My biggest challenge was accurately describing McGregor’s skills but within the context of this particular fight. He’s a great MMA fighter, but I believe he’s a massive underdog in this boxing match. So trying to respect his talent while also being realistic about his chances, is a balancing act.

MMA star Conor McGregor glares from the cover of the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine.

What experience stands out the most about the build-up to this fight?
DR: For me it was attending the media tour stop in Brooklyn in July, which was wild. For what was essentially a half hour of Mayweather and McGregor yelling at each other and insulting each other on stage to bring in a crowd of more than 13,000, albeit for free, really drove home how much interest there is in this unusual match.

BO: Catching a brief glimpse of McGregor at the UFC’s Performance Institute, where he is training for the fight. It really was just four years ago this guy was accepting welfare checks in Ireland. The day I saw him, he pulled up in a Lamborghini, walked in as if he owned the place and was immediately attended to by his masseuse and coaches. This spectacle of an event is about pairing two superstars, and McGregor is certainly carrying himself like one these days.

Was there much collaboration between you?
DR: Brett and I had coordinated on various stories before that had an impact on both sports, and this was not really any different except for the frequency of it.

BO: For this fight, of course. I’ve covered boxing relatively extensively in the past. But having a knowledgeable resource like Dan to discuss the angles of this event has been a great asset.

What’s the meaning of it all?

Writers Dan Rafael and Brett Okamoto share their thoughts on ESPN The Magazine’s issue dedicated to fighting and what the Mayweather versus McGregor fight means for the two sports.

What does it mean to each sport to have a dedicated “Fighting Issue?”
DR: It’s outstanding because it puts these sports squarely in front of everyone, which is a big deal because they don’t typically get a ton of mainstream exposure.

BO: For MMA, it’s very important. This sport scratched and clawed its way to legitimacy, all the way from its “two men enter, one man leaves” beginnings. At this point, it’s in a healthy place, but it’s also still very aware of any time it breaks through into mainstream sports talk.

Does this fight help create a boxing resurgence?
DR: 2017 has been a great year for boxing. Fights fans want to see are being made more regularly in a variety of weight classes; the best are fighting the best frequently; and the fact that ESPN now has two boxing series with Top Rank and its championship-level fights and Golden Boy with competitive fights between its up-and-comers makes the sport stronger.
– By Carrie Kreiswirth

Journalism on Display

  • Many participants in fantasy football are known to take it very seriously, but Sunday’s SC Featured segment on SportsCenter will take a lighthearted look at what can happen to people who finish last in fantasy football leagues and the “steep” price they sometimes have to pay. Matthew Berry, ESPN senior fantasy sports analyst, hosts the segment, which will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Sunday, Aug. 13, and re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.
  • Wayne Drehs and Mariana Lajolo collaborate on this ESPN.com feature about the harsh reality that the city of Rio is experiencing post-2016 Summer Olympics. The two explored in great-depth the challenges the city faces as it is left with debt and corruption one year later.
  • In a collaboration with Survey Monkey, The Undefeated polled the public on the 50 Greatest Black Athletes. After 10,350 adults were asked to rank 200 athletes on 20 different surveys, the results were revealed. This week the Top 10 list was released to complete the countdown that stirred discussion.
  • NFL running back Adrian Peterson has his hands in another sport besides football and writer Jonathan Hawthorne has the scoop on espnW.com. Peterson has been supporting AD Elite, a girl’s AAU basketball team since 2013 and dedicates his good deed to his six sisters.

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