by Tim Jeffery
Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather
After all the braggadocios and smack talk from the two champions, the biggest pay-per view fight in boxing history boiled down to one man simply hitting a wall, leaving him barely able to stand on legs of rubber one minute into round 10 Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip. Just like that Floyd “Money” Mayweather reached 50-0 in his legendary career.
Certainly the bigger and stronger looking Conor McGregor was a force for at least three rounds and never once embarrassed himself in his debut as a boxer. McGregor was awkward yet won the first two rounds for sure and likely the first three.
Initially, the southpaw’s unpredictable and unorthodox style appeared to present problems for the 12-time world champion, who threw few punches, while McGregor claimed the role of aggressor, landing uppercuts and hammer punches against one of the greatest defensive fighters in history.
But Mayweather clearly had a plan and in the end it worked to perfection. Let McGregor carry the fight early, sensing the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion couldn’t hurt him. In Floyd’s words his game plan was to “take our time and let him shoot his load early.”
Neither boxer was ever in danger of hitting the canvas right until the moment Referee Robert Byrd waved his arms. McGregor didn’t protest at the time but in a classy interview in the ring afterward, the challenger said he wasn’t hurt, just wobbly and fatigued, then stated the referee should have made Mayweather put him down.
Maybe true and probably the case in an MMA bout or UFC, but in a boxing match you have to show some semblance of fighting back. When Byrd stopped the fight McGregor hadn’t thrown any punches in over a minute and was obviously defenseless. He was clearly ready to go down.
Indeed we have seen fighters take a bigger pounding before a fight gets stopped but it was hard to argue with Byrd’s choice to halt the proceedings.
Overall it was a good showing from McGregor. He praised Mayweather for his tremendous composure. But a man who had been through so many prize fights should be able to remain composed no matter the opponent. And in the end it was just another day at the office for the Moneyteam.
Reports say Mayweather will take $200 million from the fight, twice as much as McGregor. Mayweather also said while in the ring after the fight, that this would be his last, calling himself “an old man now.” Arguably the greatest fighter in history, the 40-year old originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan has earned every accolade you can think of. In winning he surpassed the fabled 49-0 record set by heavyweight Rocky Marciano.
Saturday night was a different challenge. In some ways more a street fight than a boxing match. The left handed McGregor stood close to Floyd for the first four rounds. The final numbers show McGregor landed 111 punches – pretty good considering some boxing experts claimed he wouldn’t land a single blow. But therein was also the problem. He was never going to win a decision and none of the punches he landed seemed to effect, let alone injure Mayweather.
In the sixth, the crowd jumped to its feet for Mayweather for the first time, as he connected with multiple strong combinations, hinting at the ending to come. McGregor remained playfully defiant, responding by sticking out his tongue, eliciting chants of “Conor, Conor.”
He was still grinning in the seventh round but that is when you clearly sensed the fight was begin to spiral away from the UFC Fighter.
McGregor’s longest MMA fight had been 25 minutes. His previous 10 fights had lasted an average of less than nine minutes. Mayweather had averaged more than 33 minutes in his previous 10 fights. Still the Irishman battled Mayweather for 28 minutes 5 seconds earning everyone’s respect. Mayweather admitted after the fight his opponent was a lot better than he expected.
Conor’s purse from the fight was ten times what he would pull from a UFC fight. He claimed in the post fight interview he would return to UFC but with $100 million in the bank, would anyone be shocked if he also chose to walk away from combat fighting?
At about 10:30 EDT there were numerous reports of problems with PPV outages. Cable providers in California as well as an MMA App had lost the feed. Rumors were circulating there would be a delay in the fight.
No surprise. What would a big fight in Nevada be without some kind of unusual circumstances? It was also reported at that time anyone still trying to purchase the contest for $99.99 wouldn’t be able to get the HD feed. But just after midnight on the east coast things seemed on schedule with McGregor entering the ring first, followed by a ski-mask wearing Mayweather.
Along with a black robe with gold trim it was an odd look, maybe that of a bank robber but he wanted to let the crowd know he was aware they were against him. T-Mobile Arena has a capacity of around 20,000 for boxing matches, but according to an official tally, the much-hyped fight did not sell out.
The announced attendance for the event was 14,623, according to ESPN’s Arash Markazi, a far cry from a sellout despite all the hubbub. Most reports had the cheapest price to get in the door at $1,350; a decent seat was in the neighborhood of $3,000.
Despite multiple million dollar bets coming in on Mayweather, sportsbooks across the city stood to lose close to $50 million or more in potential winnings if McGregor was able to pull off the unlikely upset.
But as the saying goes, the house always wins, and with both a huge handle and their desired results, it’s quite possible that Saturday was the most profitable fight for the sportsbooks in Las Vegas history when all is said and done.
All this from two true warriors who most likely will never grace a boxing ring again – at least not together.