Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor: Inside the megafight
It's almost time for the talking to stop, with a date finally agreed for Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor's hotly-anticipated $180million superfight on the Las Vegas strip.
It's almost time for the talking to stop, with a date finally agreed for Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor's hotly-anticipated $180million superfight in Las Vegas.
The two will face off at T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip on August 26, in what will be one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.
Sportsmail goes deep inside the contest which has captured the imagination of the sporting world.
Floyd Mayweather will be defending his unbeaten boxing record against Conor McGregor
McGregor, on the other hand, will be making his professional boxing debut in Las Vegas
It has been confirmed that Mayweather will fight McGregor on August 26
First things first, this is a boxing match. This means no kicking, no knees to the head and no rear naked chokes, or anything else McGregor is used to in the world of the UFC.
The weight limit is 154 lbs, which would be the equivalent of light middleweight and super welterweight. Mayweather is a former world champion in this division, first won against Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand in Vegas in 2007. McGregor is also suited to the weight, having beaten Eddie Alvarez at lightweight (155lbs) in his last MMA outing at UFC 205 in New York in November.
The fight is scheduled for 12, three-minute rounds, championship length, and will see the two men don 10oz gloves. Both have also agreed to be tested by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) in the lead up to the contest.
Floyd Mayweather is very open about his love of money... and is set to earn another $100m
McGregor has regularly taken to social media to post images of his boxing training
So how did we get here?
It took a while and plenty of bluster from both sides, but this hotly-anticipated contest is finally slated to go ahead.
This whole affair started two years ago with a hypothetical question on Conan O'Brien's chat show, where McGregor was asked about the possibility of one day stepping into the ring with Mayweather. 'Who would not like to dance around the ring for $180 million?, the Irishman replied, and from there the biggest hybrid fight in history was born.
After a quiet year, talk of the fight resurfaced almost out of nowhere, following exaggerated news of McGregor's 'retirement', and the back-and-forth between the two on social media began. From there, the mass intrigue surrounding the proposed contest meant it surely had to happen, with McGregor particularly open about his desire to get it on with the champion boxer.
There were a few false dawns, with dates 'set' and then nothing materialising and figures thrown around, but Mayweather's tour of the UK brought regular questions on the subject at a time when McGregor was posting images of himself training in boxing gloves. It was close.
Then, finally, it was done. August 26 is in the diary.
Mayweather has appeared to take time to warm to the idea of a boxing match with McGregor
The Irishman, on the other hand, was very quick to sign up for the idea of a boxing match
You don't have to be overly cynical to see that this contest is all about the money. Mayweather, he has made very clear, is all about the money.
The boxer is on a minimum certainty of $100million (£78m), plus the upside on high sales by Showtime, the major US cable network set to broadcast the contest.
McGregor's share of the bounty is thought to be in the region of $80m (£62m) but a percentage of that will go to the UFC who have such a great stake in a man contracted to them.
Mayweather, pictured in Moscow, is set to receive a bigger share of the purse than McGregor
Nororious McGregor will need to kick a proportion of his fee back to the UFC
This fight was always going to be staged in Las Vegas, with the famous Strip having so many famous sites to stage such a bout.
But it will not be at the iconic MGM Grand, where Mayweather has competed in each of his 12 fights since 2007, nor will it be at Caesars Palace or the Thomas & Mack Center. No, it will be at T-Mobile Arena, only opened in 2016 and holding 20,000 supporters for combat sports.
MGM do have a stake in the venue, which is home to the newly-formed Vegas Golden Knights NHL franchise and has already hosted four UFC events, including Amanda Nunes's stunning defeat of Ronda Rousey. It has also hosted boxing, with Canelo Alvarez beating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr there in May.
Currently, a three-on-three basketball tournament featuring NBA legends is currently scheduled for August 26, but that is expected to be eased aside to accommodate Mayweather and McGregor.
The hotly-anticipated bout is being held at T-Mobile Arena which was opened in 2016
As well as UFC events, the arena hosted Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in May
The men who made this happen
Obviously McGregor and Mayweather themselves are the main protagonists - they are two men who know what they want and how to get it - but the public appetite for this contest, particularly on social media, has also played a key role.
That interest clearly grabbed the attention of the two fighters' advisors, who played key roles in negotiations.
UFC president Dana White, who holds such an interest in McGregor, has been vocal throughout the negotiations. Upon completion, he told ESPN: 'We've been in negotiations now for a while and to be honest the negotiation went smooth. We got the thing done.' He then declared the contest to be the 'biggest ever'.
But Mayweather’s manager Al Haymon took control of negotiations as the deal neared completion, with talks with UFC ownership group WME-IMG eventually getting it over the line.
Dana White, pictured between McGregor and Eddie Alvarez ahead of UFC 205
Who can we expect ringside?
T-Mobile Arena holds 20,000 people, which should just about be enough room for all the famous faces looking to attend what is sure to be one of the biggest sporting events of all time.
Both men have attracted a galaxy of stars to their prior fights, with Mayweather in particular bringing in the A-listers. He has had Jay Z and Beyonce, Sean Combs and Nicole Scherzinger ringside for recent fights, while current US president Donald Trump and wife Melania were present for his contest with Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Sporting luminaries including David Beckham, Tom Brady, Russell Westbrook and Rob Gronkowski, as as entertainers including Ben Affleck and Jack Nicholson have also been pictured at Mayweather fights.
Madonna and Zac Efron had front-row seats at Madison Square Garden for McGregor's most recent outing, while New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr and chef Gordon Ramsey were also at the event. President Trump had been invited, for an event less than a week after his election win, but did not attend.
Beyonce and Jay Z were ringside for Mayweather's fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2015
Donald Trump and wife Melania were also present at the contest, before he became president
Former England captain David Beckham was ringside for Mayweather's fight with Ricky Hatton
So, who's going to win?
Mayweather is a heavy, heavy favourite, given he will be defending his 49-0 boxing record against a men who will be making his professional debut.
For that reason, the boxer is 1-12 to make it 50-0 for his career, while McGregor is priced at 6-1 to produce what could be one of the biggest sporting upsets in history.
Beyond that, there is the school of thought that Mayweather could choose to embarrass his opponent for the full twelve rounds, before taking an easy points victory, while many are expecting McGregor to fly out of the blocks in wild style in a bid to force a knockout victory.
We are currently 10 weeks away from fight night, which is when nearly two years of questions will be answered once and for all.
After announcing date of the highly-anticipated fight, Mayweather posted this on social media