With a fitted suit lined with the words "f--- you" as pinstripes, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor took to the stage Tuesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and danced to the music as he awaited Floyd Mayweather's arrival.
In the first stop of a four-day international press tour that's expected to possibly bring more entertainment and drama than their actual pay-per-view boxing spectacle on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas (Showtime PPV), a typically brash and confident McGregor stepped up the podium to exclaim, "Baby, we did it!"
Moments later, he pulled no punches in terms of his prediction.
"I'm going to knock him out inside of four rounds. Mark my words," McGregor said. "He will be unconscious inside of four rounds. The movement, the power, the ferociousness -- he has not experienced this."
The 28-year-old McGregor (21-3, 18 KOs in MMA) was his usual hilarious self throughout his often expletive-filled rant and jawed in the 40-year-old Mayweather's face when they squared off for cameras at the close. But if Tuesday's press conference, with both fighters appearing together in front of cameras for the first time, was a virtual Round 1 of the mental battle heading into their fight, it was the wily veteran Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) who came out on top.
Just like when they meet in the ring under traditional boxing rules dictated by Mayweather, which most expect will leave McGregor (who has never boxed as an amateur or professional) out of his element, the same can be said for their war of words on Tuesday.
McGregor, a more natural counter puncher inside the Octagon, can be described as the same when it comes to comedy and his ability to out talk his opponents by speaking over them with verbal jabs. But unlike a UFC press conference, which is more of a free-for-all with open microphones and questions from the crowd, Tuesday was contested under boxing's more structured (i.e. boring) setup.
"I couldn't hear anything those motherf---ers said. This boxing press conferences is a completely different set up than we're used to," McGregor said. "It's funny here, all of these rules."
Long after TV executives and sponsors took to the stage to talk about the fight, McGregor provided an opening statement of sorts. He wasn't told ahead of time he would be expected to give it, but he delivered nonetheless. And once it became Mayweather's turn to do the same, McGregor's virtuoso ability to hurl insults was taken from him when his microphone was muted.
In the end, Mayweather provided an animated rant that hasn't been seen from him (or needed within a promotion for his fights) in many years. Adopting a hard, urban tone as he paced the stage and delivered a set of prepared one-liners, Mayweather channeled what felt like a combination of his previous "Pretty Boy" and "Money" personas taking part in a rap battle.
The former boxing pound-for-pound king was admittedly a bit corny in his delivery. But the most important part was how unbothered he was and how much fun he appeared to be having facing an equal -- in terms of business savvy and mental warfare -- in McGregor.
The rules may have been tilted in Mayweather's favor in this one, just as they will in the boxing ring come August, but he remained unflappable enough to declare a victory on this day, with a look of near-boredom at times.
McGregor was as entertaining as ever and was almost leaking charisma and confidence. But their choice of dress alone may have summed up the entire day: McGregor walked in with an expensive suit, prepared for the biggest spectacle of his entire career. Mayweather, meanwhile, was dressed in a hat and sweatshirt with a demeanor that screamed, "I've been here before."
Let's take a look at the best one-liners between the two combatants.
1. McGregor on Mayweather's clothing: "He's in a f---ing track suit. He can't even afford a suit anymore… He is f---ed. There's no other way about it."
2. Mayweather on the importance of No. 21: "I still got it. Twenty-one is the number. And they say why is 21 the number? That's how long I've been kicking ass. I don't give a f--- if it's a ring, I don't give a f--- if it's an Octagon. Put me in the ring and I'll kick ass."
McGregor: "Don't be talking shit."
Mayweather: "Y'all already know I ain't bitching man. You line them up and I'll knock them down like bowling pins. On August 26, I'll knock out this bitch, too."
McGregor: "You haven't knocked anyone out in about 20 years. Answer me, boy. Dance for me, son, dance for me."
3. McGregor on dealing with boxing rules: "He has fought people who have shied away from him. I don't fear him. I don't fear this limited set of fighting. This is a limited set of rules that makes this a half of fight, a quarter of a fight. If this was a real fight, it wouldn't even take one round. No problem, give him the gloves up. I'll wear 10 ounces. No Mexican gloves? No problem. No gloves made out of horse hair? I don't give a f---. I don't give a shit about any of that. I'm just enjoying it. Ifs funny here all of these rules."
4. Mayweather's money problems: "[Holding up an uncashed hand-written check] Still got $100 million and they can't even touch this shit."
McGregor: "Give that to the tax man."
Mayweather: "You're right, I'm the IRS and I'm going to tax your ass."
McGregor: "You're not going to do shit."
Mayweather: "Yeah, yeah we knew I was the A side. That's why we said 'Mayweather' first. He knew I was the A side, that's why this bitch had to come to the boxing ring. They say he look good for a seven-figure fighter, he look good for an eight-figure fighter. But motherf---er, I'm a nine-figure fighter. You all know what? This bitch made $3 million his last fight. We all know that's training camp money for me."
5. Mayweather on McGregor's submission loss in 2016: "We know Mr. Tap Out like to quit. And you will wave that white flag because you could choose which way you want to go. And I'm guaranteeing this: You can go out on your face or go out on your back. Which way do you want to go? That's right. Sit quiet you little bitch. ... God don't make mistakes and God only made one thing perfect and that's my boxing record."