It’s an understatement to simply say that the bout between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor was big.
The US$55 million made off the 13,000 ticket sales alone was more than three times the size of Connor McGregor’s biggest live gate (at UFC 205) and US$35 million more than Mayweather made against Canelo Alvarez in 2013.
Ringside the entire time was Scott Hirano, professional sports photographer.
The southern California native started off his photography career modestly, shooting teens playing soccer along with dog portraiture.
“I was tricked into believe that I was good at it but I wasn’t,” Hirano says.
“It’s like when your mum tells you you’re good at something even when you’re not. I just kept doing it. I took jobs even when I didn’t know what I was doing and fell flat on my face. I was tricked into believing that I could do it.”
MCGREGOR PLAYS TO THE CAMERA. HE’S VERY AWARE OF THE MEDIA AND AWARE OF HIS IMAGE.
But when he was hired in 2009 to shoot a boxing and MMA event, Hirano found his niche. Hirano developed his eye in combat sports and began to work with the likes of the Glory and and Invicta promotions and moved on to shoot the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight for Showtime along with other bouts across the globe.
“Those first fights were super bouts and were so exciting,” Hirano says. “It was two people beating on each other with a huge range of emotions and with story elements. It was a big contrast from commercial portrait photography.”
But getting backstage access, even with a pass, isn’t easy, as Hirano explains of his experiences at the Mayweather-McGregor gig.
“Backstage at an event venue there is security and the boxers have their own bodyguards. To get into the locker room you must talk to the bodyguards, even if you have a pass. I had to convince McGregor’s bodyguard to let me in. There are other people trying to get in all the time,” Hirano says.
Security had to be kept tight because fans and press ignored the rules.
“People were assigned spots and they rushed it. The media was crazy. They said ‘Fuck the rules’ and they just bum rushed the stage, the ring, wherever they could get close to the action. Being assigned front seat didn’t matter. It made it more exciting,” Hirano says.
In contrast, the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight had been much more orderly, “The media were supposed to sit and they did. Everything was more streamlined,” Hirano says.
But Hirano was able to make it backstage at Mayweather-McGregor along with Showtime’s other lead photographer, Esther Lin. Hirano was assigned to take shots of both fighters in their respective locker rooms and there was a notable contrast.
“McGregor plays to the camera,” Hirano says. “He’s very aware of the media and aware of his image. He’s not shooing me away, he wants me there. McGregor was dressed in a suit while getting his hands wrapped but seemed very cool and relaxed.”
Mayweather’s corner, meanwhile, was much more subdued. “I’m not sure Mayweather plays to the camera in the same way,” Hirano says.
“Mayweather hit the pads a little more than McGregor. His dad, who is his long-time trainer, was in there. Mayweather also has a masseuse who is constantly on his shoulders, massaging him. Mayweather dressed and changed, then it was pretty mellow. There were a handful of extravagances but otherwise it was normal.”
I TOOK JOBS EVEN WHEN I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING AND FELL FLAT ON MY FACE.
As the boxers prepared for battle, you could taste the excitement in the air, Hirano says, and it was a sense heightened by the knowledge that people from around the world were tuning in to watch the best boxer pound-for-pound in the world take on the Irish MMA star.
“This time it was more wild. There was more fan interaction,” Hirano says.
“This fight was more exciting. McGregor brought in a lot of fans as well and they were really into it. Jamie Foxx and Lebron James were there, standing up, intense on the bout. The fans were more hyped and excited than they were for Mayweather-Pacquiao.”
The fight itself, as many boxers predicted went the way of Mayweather and Hirano was quick to take photos ringside and in the dressing room after the bout.
“McGregor was in the corner of the room, sitting next to his wife and newborn. He didn’t look bummed, he didn’t look like his dreams were shattered. It was a like feeling that said, ‘Damn. If I tweaked a few things I could have gone further, maybe I could have done more,” Hirano says.
Others in McGregor’s camp were more celebratory – his father was busy pouring shots and UFC president Dana White came back to talk to the fighter. “Dana told McGregor that he’d gone 10 rounds with the best of all time and then kissed him on the forehead,” Hirano says. “You could see that he felt the appreciation for the effort.”
Tips from Scott Hirano on how to get to the top
1. Save your money and buy the best equipment possible.
2. Work your ass off.
3. Never say no to an opportunity.
4. Practice, practice, practice
5. Stay connected with people. I wouldn’t be where I was in my career without the help of others such as Esther Lin.
Check out more of Scott Hirano’s work here.