This Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, the biggest fight in combat sports history will go down in a cascade of media fanfare. Clash of disciplines. Clash of styles. Clash of personalities even. Whatever you want to call it, this fight has the public enraptured and is on target for over 5 million PPV’s and guaranteed 9 figures to each fighter.
The reason for all this furore is simple. McGregor is the biggest name in UFC, and arguably one of the biggest sports stars on the planet right now, fighting a guy in Mayweather who for years dominated boxing in a fashion not seen since the heyday of Roy Jones Jr. Combine this with Mayweather remaining undefefeated throughout his career and continually being ranked as the world’s highest paid athlete during his tenure at the top and this fight was always going to generate a colossal amount of revenue for everyone involved.
Mayweather goes into this fight as the -500 favorite with McGregor a +430 underdog.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather is simply the greatest boxer of his generation and on the shortlist of being one of the best of all-time. His connect rate of forty-six percent to only sixteen percent opponent landed easily ranks him as the best fighter of all time (or at least as far back as film records go) if the old adage of “hit and don’t get hit” rings true. During his career he faced twenty former or reigning world champions and retired undefeated.
“The Notorious” on the other hand, while never having boxed professionally, is a mutiple weight world champion in the UFC and the first fighter to hold belts at two different weight classes simultaneously. His thirteen second KO of then featherweight champion Jose Aldo, a fighter who hadn’t been beaten in over 10 years, propelled McGregor into the superstar he is today. His titanic back and forth battles with Nate Diaz and his blowout of then lightweight world champion Eddie Alvarez in less than two rounds only solidified his place as MMA’s number one star.
However, while this is a sterling record as far as MMA goes, McGregor is a relatively unknown quantity in boxing.
While rumors abound that McGregor was actually a decent amateur fighter under former olympian coach Phil Sutcliffe in McGregors native Crumlin Boxing Gym, this was curtailed fairly early on as McGregor subsequently moved into mixed martial arts. The twenty second edited video sparring footage of him and former IBF & WBA champion Paulie Malignaggi is as close as we’ve come to actually seeing McGregor box in any recent fashion. Whilst he did look impressive in that sparring footage, putting Malignaggi on the canvas, his defence looked porous, especially on the left side of his face, and there were a lot of slapping shots which won’t go down well in a match against Floyd.
Overall, considering the highly edited content of the video, the footage late last year of him and former IBO world champion Chris van Heeden sparring is probably a little closer to the truth. This footage consisted of an unedited six minute camera phone take from one of van Heerden’s camp. In that sparring session McGregor was consistently found wanting as southpaw van Heerden delivered some hard straight unanswered lefts to the Irishman’s head and body. After the two sparred twice, when asked about the potential of an upcoming Mayweather/McGregor matchup and who the likely victor would be in any encounter van Heerden responded;
“It’s not like Mayweather is up against a guy with exceptional knowledge of boxing… Floyd will walk him down, put him on the back foot, and Conor will go into survival mode… Mayweather is just going to keep tagging him, Conor will get frustrated, start throwing punches, then miss and start to gas. Mayweather will just keep punishing him and then put Conor on his back..”
While McGregor has kept defying the odds in his rise through combat sports this is simply one bridge too far. Floyd may be two years retired and slowed down in his athletic old age but his experience and diversity in the ring will bring to bear the sheer gulf that exists between simply being a striker in the UFC and being a top tier boxer in professional boxing. I can see McGregor getting tagged early on from straight counters and left hooks as Mayweather consistently sets traps for his younger opponent to walk onto. With this in effect its probable McGregor will be walked down from as early as the second round as Mayweather takes full control of the fight. If McGregor gets frustrated early as van Heerden alludes too, then it could be all over by round six as Mayweather likely toys with his vastly more inexperienced opponent, leading to a TKO or Disq.
As a native Irishman myself I enjoy McGregors antics and what he brings to the fighting game in terms of self promotion and media exposure but if you like dollars there’s only one pick to wager on this Saturday night.
Pick: Take Floyd Mayweather by KO/TKO/Disq. at -130
Best of luck and look forward to hearing your comments!