On Saturday, I attended a beach-themed party in honor of my mother's 60th birthday, at which I consumed coconut rum and pineapple juice, then drunkenly performed a song in a feather boa that made my mother cry. Before the end of the night, I scooted towards the door, and the flamingos atop my mother's birthday headband wobbled as she looked quizzically at me.
"Sorry," I said, embarrassed, "I have to go watch the fight." THE fight. The fight we all knew about. The fight to end all fights. Floyd Mayweather, undefeated champion boxer, vs, Conor Mayweather, titan of mixed martial arts.
I left the jovial birthday party for another less wholesomely jovial atmosphere, with young people holding entire bottles of whiskey and eating ribs with their hands.
During the undercards I sat alone in the living room, while partygoers shrieked over a game of craps in the kitchen. Gervonta Davis' ringside crew cut the tassels off his shoes. I thought that was pretty funny. "That was pretty funny," I said, and scratched a roaming dog's ears.
No one is interested in boring old boxing anymore. Mayweather knows it––fans were furious about the dull Pacquiao bout, in which the two middle-aged men danced around each other performing combat while practicing self-preservation.
In our land of excess and overindulgence, mixed martial arts is the sport to watch. If boxing is the warrior's game, then MMA is the warrior's... god, who even knows? The warrior's barfight? The warrior's shitshow? The warrior's orgy of hurt? Audiences froth at the mouth for the brutality of the octagon. One doesn't need to understand the rules of MMA to understand the violence. How can boxing, the defensive sport of not getting hit, compete with the intoxicating, bone-breaking, blood-gushing rage-battles? Who wants to watch a sport with rules?
We live under the reign of a billionaire racist/rapist, where wages are stagnant and upward mobility a thing of the past, our pharmaceutical companies created an opioid addiction epidemic for profit, and we're 16 years into an endless war. In this hellscape we crave more and more stimulation, anything that might offer a tiny moment of what could be perceived as joy in the dark. The world tuned into Mayweather/McGregor in the hopes of watching some good TV, preferably in the company of good friends and good weed. If nothing else, it would have been nice to punctuate the nonstop hell of daily existence with a nice vicarious punch in the face.
I sunk into the couch. Someone called out, "Fight's starting!" and people filed into the room, covering all furniture and the surface of the floor.
"This is ridiculous," my boyfriend said to no one as the extraneous people filed out of the boxing ring. "I'm actually kind of nervous."
I was nervous too. I wondered if my mom was still awake, dancing the night away on the crowded back deck.
I had intended to watch impassively, as a student of the sport. And yet, as I watched the two men stand in the ring, Mayweather stoic and McGregor peacocking, I desperately wanted this technical, defensive boxer to crush this goofy brawler. Or, in other words, I wanted the pathological domestic abuser to defeat the racist.
Joy––or at least stimulation––in the darkness.
Round one: The referee reminds both competitors to follow the rules of boxing, while his eyes are fixed firmly on McGregor. I wonder if he will lose his cool and accidentally throw a knee. They begin trading punches, McGregor throwing big, sloppy punches maniacally, and, to my shock, landing a solid uppercut on Mayweather. Somewhere a bunch of people lose a ton of money immediately on side bets that McGregor wouldn't land a single punch.
Round two: The men clinch. "Stop hugging," I say to the TV. My co-viewers think this is amusing. I open a light beer but don't drink it because I'm nervous. McGregor holds the back of Mayweather's neck like he wants to throw him. This will be a theme of the fight. It annoys me.
Round three: When Mayweather "shields up" (pulls his head and arms into his body to move in close), McGregor starts hammering on the back of Mayweather's head, much to the referee's chagrin. This will be another theme of the fight, and an extremely annoying one at that.
Round four: A friend sitting on the floor sighs and says, "Boxing is boring as fuck."
Round five: I am deeply sad for the future of boxing. Across the room, a drunk girl pulls at her hair and screams, "Just try! Throw something!"
Round six: Sloppiness.
Round seven: The same friend on the floor says "Fuck Mayweather and his goddamn technicalities." I want to say something about how technicalities are sort of the core of boxing but I don't want to miss anything.
Round eight: McGregor starts to get tired. I also start to get tired. Mayweather's legendary endurance is fully on show.
Round nine: McGregor throws a punch after the ref splits the two. This angers me immensely: it feels more an egregious disregard of the rules of boxing than the endless waist grabs and head-hammering and front hand posting.
Round ten: After playing defensively for most of the fight, Mayweather turns on the aggression and pummels McGregor repeatedly in the face with his famed, albeit weakened, right hand. When McGregor needs to play defense he instead staggers, and the ref calls the fight. Afterwards, McGregor exclaims that he was still in it, the ref should've let him "wobble to [his] corner." McGregor's sport is about getting knocked down and recovering. A champion boxer doesn't get knocked down at all.
And that was it. Technical knockout, Mayweather 50-0, McGregor 0-1.
A collective sigh of relief shuddered through the room. "That was okay," someone said. And, "Lasted longer than I thought it would." And another, "Well, that's it." We had successfully done our duties of contributing to the fighters' $100+ million dollar purses.
Then again, everything on television is intended to separate you from your money and give it to someone who already had more than enough. Every sport, every fight, every series, every social network, every website (except this one), every screen in your house and your hand is distancing you from what's truly fulfilling in your life. I think everyone knows this, but it's good to say it out loud every once in awhile, just to ensure you don't forget, and so it's not so painful when you remember after the fight at two in the morning.
At the end of the fight both Mayweather and McGregor were strangely cordial. The antagonism from the press conferences evaporated. The deal was done, the bank accounts lined, the fans sated. It was a farce. The fight was held to take our money and then laugh at us for falling for it. I fell for it.
Across town, my mother danced through the undercards and slept through the main event. "How was it?" she asked me the next day. "You didn't miss anything," I said. She didn't. But I still have Triple G v. Canelo on my calendar.