•Mayweather has a lot to teach Nigerians – SLOT boss, Ezeigbo
It was a night of great expectations, a night of an extraordinary, freakish boxing matchup—the type the world had not seen before, heavily supported by media hype and hoopla in the traditional and social media.
The more it was hyped, the more people talked about it and looked forward to see who will win. It turned out a farcical mismatch between Conor McGregor of Ireland, a mixed martial art (MMA) double champion fighter, a man who had never fought before in the boxing ring, pitched against Floyd Mayweather, a boxing Hall of Famer with a record of 49 victories and no defeat, equalling the unbeaten legendary heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano’s record.
To the purists of the sweet science of boxing, this was one bout that should not have been sanctioned. To them, it was a dangerous matchup akin to putting a tiger and a dog in a cage to fight. It was not just a fight between McGregor and Mayweather but a superiority duel between boxing and MMA.
At the sounding of the bell, McGregor came out smoking, throwing his arsenal of punches at Mayweather who kept defending himself the way he knew best as the best defensive boxer in history. For the first five rounds, it was McGregor leading. But in the sixth round, Mayweather came out of his shell to teach McGregor a boxing lesson. From the way he threw his punches, you could see that there is a difference between a boxer’s punch which is sharper and spot-on, unlike the cat-paw punches thrown by the non-boxer. From the sixth round, McGregor was carrying a cross. Every round turned out to be his station of the cross filled with punishments and agonies. It all ended in the 10th round where a fatigued McGregor was at the mercy of the best pound-for-pound puncher in the boxing business. It was indeed a crucifixion that could have led to something deadly, but thanks to the intervention of Robert Byrd, the referee who was McGregor’s saviour. Even though he was rescued from the jaws of death, McGregor still went ahead to blame the referee for ending the fight too soon, saying he preferred to have been knocked down dead, after which he would have resurrected.
For his impressions and verdict on the fight, I talked to the boxing aficionado Nnamdi Ezeigbo, the founder of SLOT, the leading telecoms store franchise in Nigeria. His home is like a boxing Hall of Fame decorated with framed pictures of boxing champions like Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Floyd Mayweather and an autographed picture of Iron Mike Tyson. A former boxer himself, Ezeigbo, tells me about what he derives from boxing.
“Boxing is one sport that motivates me,” he says. “You will see somebody go down in one minute and the next minute he is up. It means it doesn’t matter how many times you are boxed and you are down, what matters is the ability to pursue your vision. It doesn’t matter what comes around or what is trying to stop you. Once you make up your mind that you are going to take this title, you are going to take it. For me I relate that to what I do. It helps even when I meet some obstacles, I just feel that this is nothing, compared to what I am chasing or trying to pursue. So there must be a vision. If you have a vision, then every other thing will not be strong enough to stop you.”
Has he ever boxed? “Yes, I did a little of that when I was younger. I used to go to the gym to train, but I had to stop because it was always making me look for people to fight. Every time you see somebody, you are looking at the person, you are just imagining the person’s strength. I was like: can this guy fight? I was looking at people based on their ability to fight. Boxing is a wonderful sport.”
Who knows if Ezeigbo had continued fighting, he might have ended up like Floyd Mayweather who raked in N37billion in just one fight with one McGregor who though beaten also smiled to the bank?
As a former boxer who went into business, Ezeigbo is able to see the correlation between boxing, business and life itself. “It’s interesting to relate boxing with pursuit of personal success in life. To win in the boxing ring and in life requires capabilities, strategy, information, direction and vision. Add these components with endurance and hope and you can become a winner. I wasn’t surprised that Floyd Mayweather won because he got all it takes. He has this unbeatable spirit. The spirit of a man who simply refuses to lose. For him, losing is not an option. From the beginning of his career, that has been his mindset, his personal philosophy, his credo. His stamina (endurance), speed, ability to focus and pre-empt the moves of his opponent at all times made him well prepared for the game. Above all, Floyd Mayweather is a strategist, a thinker. He uses his brain, he has a good chin and the heart of a lion. Knowing that McGregor is used to shorter fights, he strategically dragged the fight to the later rounds just like Mohammad Ali employed rope-a-dope to finish George Foreman. And the strategy worked perfectly. In the early rounds, McGregor displayed some signs of a strong and optimistic boxer, but that was to be expected of him. There were signs too that the mixed martial art fighter was using his best tactics. Boxing is not about how strong you appear in the early hours but your ability to stay on. Mayweather is a champion and a smart fighter who uses his brain a lot and is quick at spotting a window of opportunity. He saw McGregor’s weakness about not being able to fight for long and strategised on that weakness. He saw it, prepared for it, waited patiently for him and at the right moment, he started raining down the blows on the exhausted McGregor whose legs were gone and knocked him out.
“The lesson is that in anything you do in life, you need to think strategically like Mayweather. Every businessman, particularly in Nigeria needs to learn and draw inspiration from the game of boxing. Nigeria itself is a boxing ring—metaphorically speaking. You need to be rugged and resilient to withstand the unusual business climate and win.”