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.
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.