Fighting is deplorable. Boxing should only be for fitness and the closest anyone should ever get to a blood sport is by attending a Zimmermann sample sale.
But something about the forthcoming Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather stoush has captured the attention of the fashion world. Boxing and fashion are similar industries: everyone’s always on a diet and striking, both poses and punches, is common.
Tuning in to the hype of this fight, an event masquerading as a $100,000-a-seat circus, allows the brain to slip into Airplane Mode, a place where the real world slips away. There is no Trump, no $122 million non-binding plebiscite and no Game of Thrones spoilers. When the stars of the show glove up in Las Vegas on Sunday it will be the season finale of what has essentially been a new season of Dynasty that will culminate in an Alexis and Krystle-type brawl.
Despite being problematic for many reasons such as Mayweather’s history of domestic violence, McGregor’s racism and the fact that people are paying millions and millions of dollars to watch two blokes belt each other, the athletes, while sizing each other up, have used fashion as a form of one-upmanship.
Boxing is about ducking, weaving and getting under your opponent’s skin. McGregor did that with his style.
The 29-year-old Irish featherweight world champion of UFC, floats like a butterfly and dresses like a peacock. He strode onto the stage during their pair’s four-city press tour in colourful trousers, Gucci fur loafers and designer sunglasses.
At the first news conference for the bout, he wore a pinstripe suit made for him by Californian tailor David August Heil which lit up social media. Those who looked closely saw the fine white stripes spelled a vulgar insult; “F— you”.
“I wanted to do something irreverent that brought out the ‘notorious’ in Conor,” Heil told Esquire. “Conor is a fan of our pinstripe and plaid suits, so I felt weaving this specific phrase into the cloth was the perfect way to bring together the bespoke details of a custom suit and Conor’s personality.”
He later told The New York Times: “If two guys walk into a room and one guy is wearing a suit and the other guy is wearing a polo and chinos, you always look at the suit. My motto is: ‘We’re not just selling clothes. We’re selling power’.”
McGregor, too, credited fashion for making him stand apart.
“I have transcended mixed martial arts and transcended sports in general, and my natural style and luxury tastes play a big part in that,” McGregor said.
In four years he has gone from an unknown Dublin plumber who was collecting welfare the week before becoming a star in his first UFC fight, to gracing the cover of GQ’s Style issue.
In the space of just a few weeks he has successfully risen through the ranks to claim an entirely different belt as one of the sport’s best dressed men.
Donatella Versace herself even designed him a special warm-up gown.
“He’s in a f—ing tracksuit,” a sharply dressed McGregor pointed and laughed at a casual looking Mayweather on the press circuit.
Mayweather may be lo-fi but he’s a high-roller. There is a reason the 40-year-old boxing great hasn’t been defeated in any of his 49 fights. He’s smart.
The American is renowned for his defensive style of boxing. He avoids big hits and often opts to lay back instead of attack his opponent. Laid back is also an apt description of his attire. While McGregor pranced around the stage in three-piece suits, Mayweather chose oversized hoodie jumpers and snapback caps all emblazoned with the slogan: TMT.
TMT stands for “The Money Team” and is his own lifestyle brand all driven and marketed by a group of people he considers “family”. TMT does what it says on the tin. The clothes and side hustles of these friends have helped the boxer earn nearly $1 billion throughout his illustrious career.
He has reportedly invested and supports many members of his “Money Team” who all have their own business interests. As well as lounge wear loved by Justin Bieber and Warren Buffet, his empire also includes a cryotherapy business, barber shops and various fashion ventures that all come under the TMT brand umbrella.
So while McGregor may have looked slick on stage, Mayweather saw their appearances together as just another marketing opportunity.
As McGregor was jumping around screaming about Mayweather’s sloppy clothes, his outfit, even the $14 socks, sold out online.