Mayweather complimentary of McGregor ahead of Saturday’s fight in Las Vegas

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Steve Marcus

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor of Ireland pose during a news conference at the MGM Grand Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

Thu, Aug 24, 2017 (2 a.m.)

When Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor took the stage Wednesday at the MGM Grand ahead of their highly anticipated Saturday fight at T-Mobile Arena, the mood was noticeably different from their other promotional encounters.

“Conor McGregor is a hell of a fighter,” Mayweather said. “He’s a stand-up guy, he’s a tough competitor and it’s not going to be an easy fight. It’s going to be blood, sweat and tears on Saturday.”

That’s a far cry from the barbs the fighters were throwing each other’s way during their four-city press tour.

Not only was Mayweather complimentary of McGregor (and Dana White, the media and nearly everyone in the room), he scolded members of his camp when they shouted at McGregor from their seats.

“Carry yourself with class,” Mayweather said, wagging his finger. “We need to conduct ourselves in an orderly fashion because at the end of the day it comes down to me and the guy I’m competing against.”

It could be because as the fight nears, the fighters are less focused on besting each other with witty comments and more focused on the final days of preparation.

“We’re here now,” McGregor said, in what was likely the quietest opening statement of his career. “A couple days out. There have been a lot of these crazy press conferences, but this one is a lot more subdued and business like. That’s the way I like it, sometimes.”

There were no expletive-lined suits, extravagant fur coats or stacks of money being dumped out of a backpack. McGregor did get in a few verbal shots, but it was significantly tempered.

It could also be the two aren’t the hated rivals they’ve portrayed themselves as.

Mayweather and McGregor will have millions of reasons to be friends after the fight, and may have just started a few days early. Mayweather stands to make an estimated $220 million Saturday night, while McGregor could take between $65-80 million home to Dublin.

“This will be the most widely distributed pay-per-view in history,” said Steven Espinosa, the Showtime Sports executive vice president. “That’s not hyperbole, that’s fact. We have more international distribution than any combat sport in history.”

Espinosa said the fight will be distributed in as many as 225 countries — more than Mayweather’s 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao.

According to Vivid Seats, the average ticket price for the fight is $3,364, much higher than Game 7 of the 2016 World Series ($1,890) and the 2017 College Football Championship ($1,186).

“It comes down to me and Conor McGregor going out there, displaying our skills and giving the fans what they want to see,” Mayweather said. “It’s the best fighting the best.”

The two closed the event with an amiable face-off. Between the two, a WBC belt that was created especially for the fight. Dubbed the “Money Belt,” the green belt made of alligator hide from Paris is encrusted with 3,360 diamonds, 600 sapphires, 300 emeralds and 1.5 kilos of solid, 24-karat gold.

McGregor jokingly struck a kung fu pose next to Mayweather, with the only thing glimmering brighter than the ostentatious belt were the fighters’ eyes — likely thinking about their upcoming payday.

Jesse Granger can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Jesse on Twitter at twitter.com/JesseGranger_.

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