One prominent figure believes there is still a long way to go before a boxing superfight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather becomes a reality.
According to Showtime Sports Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza, there hasn’t exactly been a lot of progress in negotiations between the two sides. And he says much of that could stem from the UFC’s reluctance to go all-in on making the fight happen.
“The biggest battle in Mayweather-Pacquiao was both guys really thinking that the other wanted to do it. That part has happened [with McGregor and Mayweather], so I think the real question — and it’s sort of a black box right now — is where’s the UFC really, on this? Do they, in fact, want it? Dana — speaking on behalf of, I assume, the UFC — is making noises that he’s more open to it but talk is talk,” Espinoza told Chris Mannix on the Yahoo Sports Boxing Podcast. “I haven’t seen a lot of progress either internally in the deal between the two of them or externally, the deal between that side and this side.”
That sentiment runs contrary to Dana White’s comments last week that he was close to finalizing McGregor’s portion of the deal. The UFC president estimated that McGregor would earn $75 million for the fight and claimed that “I’m gonna do my best to see this thing get done.” According to Espinoza, time is of the essence when it comes to booking Mayweather vs. McGregor, especially since “Money” hasn’t boxed since September 2015.
“It’s largely at a standstill. There hasn’t been a ton of progress and I think if they don’t move relatively quickly, people may move on. People may tire of it,” Espinoza said. “But it really is something that needs to happen this year or it probably won’t happen. Floyd’s on 18 months, two solid years come September since he’s fought. He’s still in great shape, but at a certain point, he’s not gonna do it after a while.”
Espinoza also questioned whether McGregor would return to the Octagon if he received the type of payday expected for facing Mayweather. If McGregor did exit MMA, the UFC would be losing its biggest star and pay-per-view draw (online betting).
“I think part of the fear on the UFC’s side is that they’ll never see Conor again,” Espinoza said. “If he makes 50, 60, 70 [million] and then you never see him in the ring and he retires in Ireland, [then] so much for their megastar.”