Having landed in Las Vegas barely 24hours earlier, I found myself getting ready to see Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor for the first time on stage @ their “Grand Entrance” in the Toshiba Plaza, right outside the T-Mobile Arena.
In the cab, a Vietnamese-American driver, Phat, not only had an awesome name but was the second person I’d come across in as many days to see Conor would win (read about the first, here). Phat was adamant. “McGregor is a fighter”, he said. “MMA is a whole different game to boxing… he’s a natural fighter.”
I got to T-Mobile around 10 minutes before the advertised start-time of 1.00pm. There were media crew, other round-the-neck badged folks plus, of course, the fans, in addition to security and police.
The Undercard fighters were each announced and gradually rolled onto the stage one by one, briefly facing off and giving their own interviews, on their own on stage. Gervonta “Tank” Davis was a notable absence, due to ‘scheduling’ the crowd was told.
And then Team Mayweather arrived, in big numbers, naturally. The crowd, many of whom had been waiting in the relentless heat for a couple hours (a good day for the 5-dollar-water sellers) to see Floyd, vented their frustration at the media swarm on stage completely blocking him from view.
Here’s the recording I got, the audio is clear despite Floyd not being visible – video.
After around a half hour, an entourage of cars arrived and Team McGregor emerged.
Team Mayweather conveniently left the stage and seemingly tried to ruffle McGregor feathers; after a coming together of the two tribes, McGregor coolly emerged, well-dressed as always, and arriving on the stage before immediately walking around the fighters’ path which had been laid out, and which Mayweather had avoided. Of course this went down a treat with the crowd. One fan commented “This is why he’s so popular…and Mayweather’s not.”
I must admit, I got pretty close to the Irishman, and the fanboy in me took over as I stretched out a hand and… alas, no high five from McGregor. I was just pumped to be there, though.
Conor’s turn next to be interviewed on the stage, after he’d made it along the path and back around, onto the left-hand side – video.
As I recorded my final analysis video in the Plaza, I was unaware of the McGregor and Malignaggi altercation which went on near the stage area, as the McGregor camp was leaving. Pauli maintained that he was trying to keep away from Conor and let the fighters do their thing, being their fight and all, and was – in fact – after Conor’s Manager to let him know how he felt at being treated. You can watch the full Mcgregor / Pauli altercation, and Pauli’s explaining about why he was there, etc, here.
I made the short walk over to the strip (the Mayweather-friendly MGM Grand Hotel was looming just behind the Plaza), and I had a quite bite @ Planet Hollywood, lucky to stumble right into the recommended lunch venue for food… I’d actually been there the last time I was in Vegas: The Earl of Sandwich.
Next up was another short Uber ride to Sam’s Town Live, for some MayweatherPromotions-hosted boxing action. This was a chance for me to see some of the fighers in the Mayweather stable in action. A real treat.
Sam’s Town is a great, cosy venue – the boxing equivalent of Birmingham’s Aegon Classic, if you will. There largely seemed to be fighters’ friends and family, with lots of advice-giving and encouragement coming from the fighters’ respective corners, and friends/family in the crowd.
Check out pictures from the evening here.
I enjoyed every bout that I saw, and the action only seemed to get better as afternoon turned into evening. In the main event, an energetic former-champion Payano dominated a subdued Santiago, a 26-year old Mexican fighter who’s cousin and friends I sat with on the night.
I ended up in an Uber-pool with one of the fighter’s sisters, along with a writer for BoxingScene. This is the great thing about Uber-pool. You just don’t know who you’re going to meet, and the 4 of us (including lovely driver Kristy) had great conversations, as we were dropped off one by one. Kristy had even been friends with Stevie Forbes, who had made it to 12 rounds with Oscar De La Hoya back in the day – and had been interviewed by the BoxingScene gentleman, as had the fighter brother of the sister who was also in the Uber. Connections all around.
The BoxingScene guy told us that he had been a boxing journalist for 20 years, and how everhy media person had to keep this micro-chipped wristband on – a new level of precaution in anticipation of fake wristbands. Also, he said this was the first time he had ever known where, on fight night, there would be no media people sat on the floor (in the T-Mobile Arena) – these seats were being sold. A unique fight in many ways.
This was just my 2nd day in Vegas, and what a day. My excitement for Saturday night is only getting bigger. #MayweatherMcGregor
PS. Some final thoughts – is Floyd getting complacement? An Instagram-story posted by the MayweatherPromotions account showing Floyd sat and being interviewed after he appeared on stage that day, showed him stating that he was going to be at The Girl Collection every night, including on Friday and Saturday… Floyd was also recently pictured eating a Burger King just days before the fight. Floyd being Floyd, or just complacency?
Edit: Floyd addressed the perception that he isn’t taking the fight seriously in the last media conference on Wednesday @ 1.00pm PDT, stating that he is very much a professional and is ready. Watch the full conference (Floyd & McGregor enter @ 59mins) here.