Monday, May 29, 2023  |


Former Ali aide Gene Kilroy discusses the true meaning of ‘hype’

Fighters Network
Photo from THE RING archives

Photo from THE RING archives

When the mountain of hype gets too large, it’s often smart to seek out counsel to combat the overload. Someone who can provide perspective, who has been there and done that. That someone in this case is Gene Kilroy, the former right-hand man for Muhammad Ali, who is today still The Greatest’s top cheerleader, arguably.

The Vegas-based Kilroy, who grew up in Pennsylvania, told me that Saturday’s big one is a big one, but when Ali fight, that was something else.

When Ali fought, oftentimes, let alone the hotels being all booked up, you couldn’t even get a phone call in to a hotel because the switchboards were all jammed, he said.

“I hope Mayweather-Pacquiao is as great as the hype, but it can’t, it’s impossible,” Kilroy told me.

“In football, people want touchdowns, in baseball, homers … but neither of these guys have had a knockout in a long time,” he continued. “To kick butt, you got to take a chance on getting your butt kicked.”

Kilroy has seen Mayweather from decades back and said he is impressed with his dedication, and his ring smarts. “He’s a guy who has the answers to the college entrance exam before he gets there,” he said.

He used to warn Ali about underrating a foe coming in. “I used to tell Ali train like you’re fighting Joe – Joe Frazier, not Joe Bugner,” he said, chuckling. He doesn’t see Money falling prey to that…

As for being better than Ali, Kilroy provides a counter argument. Gallup polls back in the day testified to how well known Ali was. The world knew who he was. How many know Mayweather? He isn’t even an ultra-celeb in his home nation …

Kilroy agrees with me in that we think losing could benefit Floyd.

“When Ali beat Foreman, George got humility,” he said. “It changed his whole life.”

Regarding the God stuff, and if God roots for one boxer over another, Kilroy said God likely has too many important things to deal with to worry about boxing matches.

As to who will win, Kilroy thinks it will come down to the last round, “and who wants it most.”

And finally, Kilroy pondered this: This bout will break records, but maybe Floyd shouldn’t get too cocky about that. “Imagine if Ali was doing this today? He’d do 250 million pay-per-views! Eating breakfast with his wife, he’d do 100 million pay-per-views!”

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