Chael Sonnen claims that the integrity of boxing will be on the line when Floyd Mayweather meets Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena due to the enormous disparity in pugilistic experience that exists between the two fighters.
The promotional tour for the event kicks off Tuesday at the Staples Center. It is presumed that McGregor will use the tour to try to win the mental battle against Mayweather, as he has done with many of his UFC opponents.
According to Sonnen, it is not Mayweather’s skin that McGregor will be trying to get under.
“I don’t think there’s a way to get under (Mayweather’s) skin,” Sonnen told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I know from the outsiders, it’s been talked about as if it were the same as a youth advantage or a size advantage, or a reach advantage.
“They’re not advantages, but people don’t understand that. Those terms have been around for so long that we’re not going to convince people otherwise.
“I believe it will appear that Conor get’s under his skin, but all he’s trying to do is get under our skin. He’s trying to get our attention and people never understand that.
“I could say, ‘This is an emotional Floyd Mayweather because all this stuff was said about him’, but it doesn’t work that way. That’s just stuff we say to get headlines, it’s not true.”
Sonnen completely dismissed McGregor’s chances of winning the fight.
“Are you kidding me? None. Zero,” he replied when asked if McGregor had a chance of beating Mayweather.
“You don’t understand what’s on the line here, because nobody seems to want to tell it. I watched the press conference, they had the Showtime guy and they had Floyd’s representative and Dana on there.
“They all wanted to be real careful and say that this isn’t MMA versus boxing. I have no idea why they would be so dishonest. This is boxing against boxing.
“You have the greatest boxer of all time, according to boxers. They, as a community, have put this guy forward as their best ever. He’s never lost professional fight in boxing. He’s taking on a guy that has never done professional boxing.”
Using an analogy from his amateur wrestling days, Sonnen explained why anything but an early stoppage from Mayweather would reflect badly on the integrity of boxing.
“If this ends any other way but quickly and decisively for Floyd, the entire integrity of the sport of boxing is on the line,” he said.
“I’m an amateur wrestler. I was an amateur boxer too. I love boxing, but I’m cognitive enough to tell you from my wrestling days that if you bring in an athlete—I don’t care how good he was or how successful he was in his field—and you put him against our best wrestler, there is no chance possible chance that it goes 30 seconds.
“And I’m only saying 30 seconds incase the wrestler wants to stop and tie his shoes. That match is over. Now you’ve got people from the boxing world saying Conor can win. You’ve got other people speculating that it’s going to go twelve rounds. The entire integrity of a fringe sport (is on the line).
“Don’t forget there is no a high school in this country that recognizes boxing as a real sport. The NCAA will not contest it and people think that’s because it’s a dangerous sport. The NCAA doesn’t see it as a sport.
“The only body with any kind of integrity that still recognizes it and contests it is the International Olympic Committee (IOC), then you have all of these different commissions.
“This is the entire integrity of the sport versus Conor McGregor.”