Mayweather v McGregor : A Fight Review


The Fight Plan

It’s easy in hindsight to be an ‘aftertimer’ as Steve Bunce has as go to cliche for knowing everything after the event. We all have summoned the perfect recall of told you so type reflection. In fact it’s all part of analysis and is the comparative gauge we need use in everything. Some go overboard and embellish what they actually said and a story gains credibility the more often and repetitively it is spoken in so many different quarters.

From the beginning of the Mayweather McGregor fight being made uniting in a the bigger sports terms the MMA/UFC fighter Conor with a Boxing legend and multiple weight undefeated athlete Floyd both had a job to do to convince this match was worth spending money on to view. The show had begun.  


Hype 

By fight night the gap in the probability of McGregor pulling of his conceived showdown the business was done and the actual delivery of the match as a believable contest was set. People bought into it from every walk of life to fill the T-Mobile Arena and the TV revenues for pay per view had locked in an exchange of money which had multiples of contractual layers on the fighters side of the equation. They make the fight and they called the shots.  

Las Vegas Business
Seeing is believing in Las Vegas and the city of illusion was on full beam. Lighter gloves than permissible under rules, McGregor weighed in at 153lb and Mayweather at 146lb so both were close to the super Walter weight division and the age difference went 29 v 40. McGregor in the final few days called his opponent as in ‘no shape – blown out’. This to an athlete whose regime and self discipline over his two years out of the ring saw him shape up as dit as a boxer need be for a bout which could see him hospitalised if he was not fit.  
For ten rounds the fixation of a contest was the make believe made believable. The unforeseen; by legions of commentators up to and during the hype, unfolded. The attack of McGregor revealed his coaching and allied to his training which includes fist fighting, had prepared him well. He knew the raggedy UFC rules were out and both fighters had to abide to Queensbury rules. Despite this and ignored for the best part by the referee foul play was apparent in the small part theatrical of McGregor getting behind, literally and of his opponent complaining and using his forearm as a defense tool. The referee admonished the good bad guy. Mayweather. The cocky McGregor was the people’s man and he needed protected as the innocent in this against the prevailing expectations. All good so far.

Taking care of Business

Entertainment of a different kind was in view. Here was a cross discipline fight and the fighters delivered. Now you know the result, now you know the duration, and now the adrenaline has left satiating your and their escape calves we can look back on it in the Buncie way, as after timers for that is what every commentator is. What did you expect to see and what did you see? the questions alongside are will you even be bothered to frame an opinion of it in boxing terms?

Plainly many have cashed in their payment mentally and moved on. They got their value what else is their.


How did you read it?

Plenty is up for discussion. Where to for both the ‘disciplines’ now this fight was made and on all terms with everyone walking away a winner except the ill struck wagers of many heaping it on McGregor? This is a new entertainment and anything could happen. The reverse is unlikely to happen where two at the top of their game get in the Octagon and square off. Now is the time for looking back at what you saw and what it actually comprised.

The combat for me was a highly restrained but highly physical set of exchanges which went according to the agreed plan. The plan of Mayweather, which he described afterwards was part truth, ‘it went to my gameplan’ with him saying it was in his plan to let McGregor box himself out early and step in a 25mins and finish it off. There is no doubt that is what happened. What l have a distaste for is the fact it was strung out as a supposed contest up to the ‘value’ tenth round and within the distance. Up to the point where all woul go away satisfied. Mayweather on top within the distance and the victor as befits his power, defence and punching. It would become thecclosing of a legend All of Fame carrier with 50 ‘belt’ victories after his Olympic debut as a youngster when he got a bronze. If both were on the same gameplay or not is open to debate. 

Neutral Corner
The Mayweather we saw was invincible. That is what he is. At forty years of age he has the brutal strength to maintain his skills and his control of how mentally fights unfold. He dictates. It could have been over in the first round had he wished it to. It could have been over in the third had he wished it to. What we witnessed was a sham fight with it inevitably coming down to the blitz which saw the referee step in and declare it over. What we did not see was a defense from McGregor. He hadn’t got one then and earlier it would have been some flailing and hopeful shots against a barrage from a boxer who knows the difference between an uppercut and a jab and when the combinations should come and where they were to be delivered.  


Polished theatre 

There is no reason other than showbiz as to why this did not happen. It would have been and gone in an instant had this mismatch, which all, or basically all the professional commentators called it right up to the deadline. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but so is stepping back and taking a good look at the bigger picture. The punters got what they wanted. The uncertainty of sport to deliver beyond their wildest dreams or on the threshold of the dream. As it unfolded it was clear Mayweather could have chosen exactly when to step in as he did in the tenth round and deliver that unstoppable action. Anytime not Showtime. McGregor is safely in his corner as the protagonist who will fight another day but will anyone realise they witnessed a framed mismatch which was formed on a carefully arranged gameplan and that what they say was a debacle for as many millions to be had as rope a dopes?

John Graham

28 August 2017

Belfast

This is purely an opinion and has not any basis on which it can be put forward as having any thrush. It is supposition and only an alternate discussion point.
A review of films to return again quickly with Farthest next up.

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Jawbone : A Film Review


Jawbone

Produced by Michael Elliott, Johnny Harris. Written by Johnny Harris.  Cast. Johnny Harris as Jimmy McCabe, Ray Winstone as William Carney, Ian McShane as Joe Padgett, Michael Smiley as Eddie, Luke J.I. Smith as Damian, Anna Wilson-Hall as Mary. Director : Thomas Q. Napper. Duration: 1 hr 31 mins. Cert. 15. 

Seconds out

There is no place to go for anyone whose hope has gone.  The future is a place of roadkill.  It will swallow you up.  The mind sees things it cannot control and the future is best left alone so horrendous it seems looking forward.  So what is there to do except go backwards.  Unwind the past beyond the turmoil which formed the bridge between then and now.   Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris) has hope but fear also and his upbringing has been in a closed world of boxing.  A neutral corner in his life. A year ago his mother died and he is about to lose through this own disconnection with the world the tower block flat he grew up in.  His family as young boxer were his trainer Eddie (Michael Smiley), promoter Joe (Ian McShane), and club owner Bill (Ray Winstone). He is in control only when he is in the ring as a fighter. As a boxer he became at 22 an ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) champion which is the biggest step on the ladder to becoming a professional. 


Boxing bored of control

In boxing you are either a boxer or a fighter.  Unless you are gifted and are both you will not succeed unless you are so beyond being a fighter you become a warrior or like Evander Holyfield lightening quick and as balanced as a dancer at the height of their powers.  Some boxers are so gifted as to become a capable of outwitting your opponent in every move as it’s seen in advance and a matter of choosing the right time to unleash their demons.  Seldom do boxers come through on the scale needed to sustain a living.  Joe Calzaghe was a Welsh boxer who trained in himself with his father to be hard as nails and in a club without any distractions or manipulative promoters after a quick return and fall guys.  Another was Ricky Hatton who grew a Manchester and bigger following to become a super light middleweight and his craft was speed and accuracy.  A dynamite boxer fearless, fit and fast.  Joe Calzaghe was able to handle his rise through the ranks and another Carl Froch came up with him to be British World Champion boxers. 


Jimmy McCabe is a fictional boxer and this a cut at the boxing life not seen that often in film, never mind a British film.  The boxing clubs that thrive in the working class areas and inner cities from Manilla to Manchester.  This is not at the turbulent Rocky out on your feet kamikaze ruthless blood letting film which has arches of blood swooshing around and miracles off the canvas. Yet it has as a climax a fight choreographed by Barry and Shane McGuigan.  Those two also ‘advise’ ‘train’ the boxers/actors in their ring craft in the club.  Just as well it’s not true, they couldn’t train white mice. So much than you’ll not get a sequence here, how many Rocky’s?  Taking boxing by the throats is what the promoter does.  

Joe (Ian McShane), is a character smart from his Deadwood part, here as the chief fixer and fight maker.  He appears only a few times and is played as a cross between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Barry Hearn.  One a joker maverick skilled player and the other super spiv Svengali deal maker. It doesn’t amount to much here though and it’s only a passing element. He is close to fight arrangements and sets up something for Jimmy.  It is off the usual boxing radar and highly dangerous. His skill is publicity and hype as marketing need appeal to the lower end of the market, promising this is only the beginning.  It’s usually the beginning of the end as a fighters roster needs to contain a win to loss ratio of 10 to zero.  Amateur ranks are full of talent but their ring craft is for three rounds although in tournaments they find themselves boxing every three days sometimes.


The setting

The film has a straight forward arc and is from the very beginning establishing the despair and near collapse in Jimmy’s life where things pile up and haunt him.  He is fighting addiction and is near loosing his bearings which went after his mum died.  He now is in a fixed loop with nowhere to turn and the boxing is the only thing in his mind with any real pleasure or self of self.  He is not able to fix himself without some help so goes back to the Union Street Boxing Club.  In the club the old faces of Bill (Ray Winston) who is the overseer in the under the railway arches of South East London, Lambeth and beyond, is a reconstructed hardman type as age catches up with the character and the actor.  He portrays it as always with supremely brilliant timing and facial tone.  The rough and readiness is not a put on but an everyday projection of life in the lower reaches of boxing.  He is also the deliverer of some very well crafted lines and the delivery is as I say supremely well gauged as usual for Winstone.  Eddie (Michael Smiley) has apart of a dog eyed trainer.  His long bearded face, the hound of the training ring, delivered in nasal bass Belfast notes by a flaccid poor one dimensional character which Smiley occupies as a reciter of the McGuigan training words and gestures.  Then his other acting skill was to use his hands holding Jimmy’s head in place while he delivered a heated bit of encouragement.  One thing I noticed was he barely ‘smiled,’ no pun intended nor moved a great deal.  No animation whatsoever and someone said it was ‘brilliant’ – some mistake! – and we never got to see his impressive new gnashers.  Good boxers have a good set of teeth if they come out the other end and can afford the replacements the gum shield and constant battering have loosened.  Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris) has an impressive set.  Eddie occupies an awful lot of the film as it is shot mainly in the club with a lot of outdoor work and nighttime embankment solid very well filmed and a continuation of the work Jimmy puts in – and it’s far from fake – you get a strong sense of the depths of fitness needed for a fight and it is increased and increased with every frame.  In the club there are the newest recruits to boxing.  A failure of the story was its lack of engagement with any of the junior ranks.  Not one said a word.  Not even conversational asides.  Still this was a minor problem though the same could be said about the plainness of the storylines given.  Not too many sub plots.  So Eddie was ‘boring?’ but not Bill who you got some change from watching his mastery of the part.  Jimmy AKA Johnny Harris has put his heart and soul into this film and it is this ‘tunnel’ perhaps that separate it from being a great British film of the times, Tales of the Long distance Runner, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning genre.  

 

Redemption

Salvaging something out of a life of addiction and getting beyond the harmful effects, which can be lasting and take the edge of everything including pain, is a redemptive cause.  Celebration can come if a success is made of it.  Lately Antony Joshua became a world champion at 26 having been through a few of life’s knockdowns which involved petty crime and misuse of his strength involving also electronic tagging.  His tale is a reality. A very timely one as far as this film is concerned.  There is an unobtrusive soundtrack and it is by Paul Weller showing mixing skills hitherto unheard by myself with it used very smartly (in the way Raw and Jim Williams didn’t – see last review!) with it enhancing the impact of thumping sound mixed punches and scene crowd hysteria with an energy which has you move you chin out of the way of the latest punch.  It is a good cal to have it scored so well and with a light touch. 

Conclusion ###3

For a film to get you gripped by the main character it requires a bit of screenwriter craft to draw you into the essence of the person.  I never got that until it was too late with this.  It was actually in the last third with very little drama involving pathos or sympathy in the arc and I suppose it is because the character Jimmy is an enigma.  He was less enigma towards the end.  As a boxer it is a lonely place to be.  Every boxer is on the way to proving his worth and is out to give up little of his emotional underlying self.  Ricky Hatton, even Muhammad Ali were underneath a construct of multiple persons.  The violent man was suppressed most of the time while they were bodily mentally tuned to be destroyers and to reach the top they had to be just that.  Hence the incomparable Ali performing as a spokesman contender for the whole of the sportsmen of his and any era.  The affable side we also know and love. A master.  This is where the minutiae of live comes into crystal clear focus.  If we were able to see inside a bit more and discover the obvious and real demons – in the minds of al kinds Oscar sportsmen then this would have been a flyer.  That’s not to say it’s a dud.  Far from it.  It’s just that it got the canvas too many times.

John Graham

10 May 2017

Belfast
On at Queens Film Theatre from this Friday 12 May through to and including Thursday 18 May.  For Boxing fans a must.