Actually, "The Main Event" is a sideshow: two stereotypical hermaphrodites sparring for the all-star featherhead title.
Barbra Streisand plays a business genius who barks orders in the office but can't help yoo-hooing from ringside to a fighter she owns, during the fight. Ryan O'Neal plays the fighter, a dedicated loser who worries about keeping his looks and pouts if sex isn't followed by a promise of marriage.
No matter how these characteristics were assignes between a man and woman, the result would be two freaks, because these are jokes about old jokes, not satires on human beings of either gender.
It's unpleasant to see the Barbra Streisand character, the one she has been playing throughout her film career, so disfigured. Beginning in "Funny Girl," she has been coming out as the homely girl who refuses to concede the title of love and glamor to the natural contenders, fighting spunkily for what beauties usually win by default.
But in "The Main Event" her weaknesses are ignored and her strengths pushed beyond their limits. First there is a general pretense that she's not homely. Expensively dressed and surrounded by adoration at the beginning, with a still-panting ex-husband in the background to assure us of her lovability, she acts the imperious heroine. Then the fresh anxiousness she substituted for conventional sexiness has been turned into abrasive vulgarity. The level of leering remarks is extremely low, indicating an inner ugliness this character cannot afford.
The film is no triumph for O'Neal, either, but he has less far to fall.