Mayweather, McGregor Fill Barclays With Pre-Fight Hysteria

Although Floyd Mayweather is reportedly the favorite in the upcoming big ticket bout, Conor McGregor owned Brooklyn last night.

Over 13,000 fans flocked to the Barclays Center to witness the world press tour for the most anticipated boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) match in history. Mayweather, 40, will defend his 49-0 record against McGregor, 29, a top-tier and certainly the most popular (MMA) opponent– but only after they’ve exhausted all possible opportunities of promotion.

Fight fans filled Barclays Center for the third stop on the four-city world tour to hype an already highly anticipated bout.

The third stop on the four-city world tour sold out within two hours of becoming available. The free tour is meant to hype an already highly anticipated event that is expected to exceed the half billion dollars in revenue garnered from the Mayweather-Pacquiao event.

Both Mayweather and McGregor, known for their showboating, held no punches last night.

Each opponent walked an elevated red carpet led to an arena-sized stage, which featured a larger-than-life display of each contender’s likeness. The banner atop the images read, “Saturday August 26 – Live on Pay-per-View.”  Hip hop music boomed throughout the arena, orchestrated by a live DJ.

The pre-show featured a quick two-minute crowd rally by Swizz Beatz who surveyed the crowd with prompts like “If you’re here for Conor McGregor, make some noise!” The crowd responded favorably, but the same cue for Mayweather was answered by boos and jeers. Swizz Beatz’s appearance was followed by a largely ignored Doug E. Fresh performance.  The veteran hip-hop artist tried to capture the audience’s attention with his signature beat-boxing and New York City classics, but the crowd appeared uninterested.

Instead, McGregor fans chanted “Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé,” as they restlessly awaited the fighters’ arrival.

A showy and shirtless McGregor, who turns 29 today, strode into the arena sporting floral-printed pants, black leather Gucci loafers and a white mink coat featuring a blue, winged serpent. Mayweather, however, opted for a more conservative look dressed in all black sporting the logo of his brand –– The Money Team (TMT). Mayweather’s finishing touches featured an Irish flag draped along his shoulders, which was discarded at the end of his catwalk.

Fight fan Aiden Roche, 29, said his money is on McGregor, 100%.

“My money’s on McGregor, 100%,” said Aiden Roche, 29, who said he’s already booked two suites at Caesars Hotel and one at the Venetian Hotel during fight night in Las Vegas.

The roaring cheers continued for the Irish MMA fighter as he sauntered the runway swirling his mink to tunes of Notorious Biggie Smalls. Mayweather, on the other hand, was met with boos and jeers as he made his way to the stage.

Notorious, a nickname recently trademarked by the MMA champion, could do no wrong in the eyes of his supporters, even as he made thrusting air pumps following the comments “to my beautiful black women,” the crowd reacted with cheer.

The two “suits” on stage Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports and Event Programming executive vice president and general manager and Brett Yormark, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment were promptly booed by the raucous crowd and then later applauded as they exited stage left.

Money Mayweather “made it rain” in the face of McGregor while MMA champion taunted Mayweather with Jay Z’s 4:44 music CD suggesting Mayweather grow-up as goes the theme on the rapper’s newest release.

But the fighter’s stunts eventually led to the customary nose-to-nose stare down following a near altercation between the opponent’s camp members.

The press sessions were as eventful as the arena show.

Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) called the opponents “two of the best sh*t-talkers in both sports,” while Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s long-time manager, focused on the economics of the fight by repeatedly noting “This sh*t is big.”  

But the clear takeaway in the press alley was the passing of the flamboyant torch from a matured Mayweather to the rambunctious McGregor. Rather than the ostentatious rhetoric each fighter is known for, the reserved Mayweather singled out and thanked reporters in the crowd who have been covering him for years, his publicist, attorney and cable executives responsible for his latest juggernaut of a purse.

“They’re gonna talk about his business move at Harvard,” said Mayweather.

The Mayweather vs. McGregor fight is slated for Saturday, August 26 in Las Vegas.

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