LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Now, we find out.
Finally, after the hype and the wait and the head games and the buzz, we'll soon find out the truth: whether we're in for a sports spectacle ... or we're just suckers.
That's at stake Saturday night as much as any notion of the future of boxing, the merits or amateurism of Conor McGregor the boxer, the legacy of Floyd Mayweather Jr., any of it.
In sports we have always sought a careful combination of the buzz and beauty of real drama, and the idea that those dramas have real meaning. That competitors, if not equal, at least belong in the same arena. That the magic we hope for in sports' biggest events capture us because anything really can -- and sometimes does -- happen.
Miracles on Ice can come true. The Chicago Cubs don't have to spend baseball eternity cursed by a goat. No Super Bowl lead is truly safe. No 3-1 NBA Finals deficit is truly the end. No underdog stepping onto a field or court or diamond does so without a chance at greatness.
Sports are not the Kardashians, not WWE, not a facsimile of competition. They are a place where the best and worst parts of our actual lives play out, up to and including the uncertainty of how things will go.
That's why I would happily pony up $100 for Mayweather-McGregor.
It's why I, and many of my media colleagues, are in Las Veags to see what unfolds in the ring at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday between a UFC star and a boxing legend. It's why you will be watching live across the world at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime PPV.
We want the idea that McGregor has no chance -- that this is a circus, a farce, a Mayweather rubber stamp to 50-0 that gilds all the actors in money while fleecing all the true believers who thought this was a real competition -- to vanish.
Soon, finally, we'll know if -- as a boxer -- he's the Conor McGregor or rather Con Man McGregor.
We do not need a McGregor win for this fight to be worth all the money, energy, drama, ink and time on the airwaves to have been worth it. We just need, like with the Cavs against the Warriors this past NBA Finals, for the underdog -- even if he's soundly bested -- to give us those glimpses of what is possible.
You would be hard pressed this week to walk the streets of Las Vegas and find a true believer and combat sport expert who deeply and truly believes McGregor will win this fight. Many think he doesn't belong in the ring at all, and those who claim otherwise happen to be deeply connected to (or invested in) UFC.
The public loves Conor, boxing con man or otherwise. For roughly every 13 bets that have been made on the fight in recent weeks, 12 have been placed for McGregor. Yet the majority of the money has been bet on his opponent. That means the public -- the fans -- believe this is a real sports event, while the sharps and the sharks with the deep pockets think it's a joke.
So here's what we need for this to be the fight of the year instead of the farce of the year: McGregor has to put up a real, true fight. Not a win -- not necessarily.
Go the distance. Make Mayweather bleed. Land punches no one saw coming and force that mesmerized crowed -- and all those deep-pockets betters -- to hold their breath at least a few times with the uneasy feeling McGregor could do it.
Yes, a McGregor win would be epic. And stunning. But the real victory for him, and for the rest of us, will be if he simply proves he belongs in the ring with one of the great pound-for-pound fighters of all time.
In the end, all we really need from our sports is the thrill they give because the uncertainty and the possibility surrounding them are real.
Give that to us, Conor McGregor, win or lose, and the real con job will be on the doubters who said you didn't belong in that ring.