By: Tony Penecale
Fight or Farce? When Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired in 2015 with millions of dollars in his pocket and an unblemished 49-0 record, there was a flood of speculation about whether he would ever return to the ring. A popular notion was his ego, along with his flamboyant lifestyle, would not allow Mayweather to stay away for long. When one of the young welterweight prospects–possibly Keith Thurman or Errol Spence–became the consensus #1 welterweight in the world, Mayweather would itch to come back and reclaim his throne.
However, it turned out to be a boxing outsider that drew Mayweather back in the ring, in the person of the brash and cocky UFC star, Conor “The Notorious” McGregor. Known for his striking ability and fearless attitude, McGregor called out boxing’s money king and goaded him back with a High Noon showdown in Las Vegas.
Can this Mixed Martial Arts champion successfully make his boxing debut and defeat one of the best boxers in history? Or will Mayweather prove that there is a difference in being a superior striker in a martial arts environment than in a boxing match? Fight or Farce? We will find out in this Las Vegas “Superfight”!
AGE, RECORD, AND STATS
Mayweather: Age: 40 years old
Record: 49-0 (26 Knockouts)
Weight: 146 * * Weight for last bout (9-12-15)
McGregor: Age: 29 years old
Record: Pro Boxing Debut (21-3 MMA record)
Weight: 145 ** Weight for last bout (11-12-16) **MMA bout
1996 Olympic Bronze Medalist
WBC Super Featherweight Champion (’98-’02)
WBC Lightweight Champion (’02-’04)
Ring Magazine Lightweight Champion (’02-’04)
WBC Junior Welterweight Champion (’05-’06)
IBF Welterweight Champion (’06)
WBC Welterweight Champion (’06-‘07)
WBC Junior Middleweight Champion (’07)
WBA Junior Middleweight Champion (’12)
WBC Welterweight Champion (’11-‘15)
WBO Welterweight Champion (’15)
Ring Magazine Welterweight Champion (’06-‘07)
Ring Magazine Pound-4-Pound #1 Boxer (’05-’07, ’12-‘15)
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC)
Featherweight Champion (’12)
Lightweight Champion (’12)
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
Featherweight Champion (’15)
Lightweight Champion (’16)
A pure boxer with extraordinary quickness and instincts who does everything well with an arsenal that includes a snapping jab, accurate right hand, and left hook that can be doubled and tripled with tremendous effect. Uses feint moves to freeze opponents and open punching lanes. Tucks his chin well behind his shoulder to roll with punches. Even on the ropes, he is a difficult target to land a solid punch on. He doesn’t have great punching power. Most of his stoppage victories come from outpunching and outclassing his opponents while rarely scoring clean knockouts.
McGregor boxes from a southpaw stance, light on his feet and using lateral movement, looking to set up openings for his thunderous left hand. While competing under mixed martial arts rules, McGregor often shunned takedowns and grappling, instead preferring to use his quickness and power from a striking stance, often with destructive results.
* Experience – Boxing is in Mayweather’s blood since his childhood. Completed an extensive amateur career by winning the bronze medal in the ’96 Olympic Games. He has been competing successfully on a championship level for the past 19 years, facing and defeating all styles.
* Conditioning – Mayweather is a fitness freak with an amazing work ethic when it comes to training. Few fighters push themselves as much as Mayweather does in the gym, even doing midnight training sessions. It is evident in the ring when his stamina carries him in the late rounds.
* Ring Generalship – Mayweather knows every inch of the ring and how to control a fight. He knows when to attack, when to box, when to turn up the heat, and when to coast. Mayweather owns the ring when he is in there. Even the rare times when he has been stunned in fights, he was able to quickly settle down and quell the threat.
* Fearless – McGregor is a very self-confident and brash fighter. He has shown no fear against some dangerous MMA fighters and has had no problems taunting them, dropping his hands, and then backing up his bold actions.
* Unorthodox – Not only is McGregor a southpaw, he is an extremely unorthodox southpaw. He comes in aggressively on his toes and fires his punches from all angles, primarily his signature left hand. He will throw it straight or in a looping fashion from a distance, and even in a short chopping fashion while in close.
* Power – McGregor’s striking skills and power have been lauded in the UFC and he is widely recognized as one of the top strikers in the world of mixed martial arts. He carries thunderous power in his left hand and has scored knockouts in 18 of his 21 victories.
* Aging – Mayweather may have an unblemished record but Father Time has never been defeated. Mayweather has been more flat-footed in recent bouts and he is now over 40 years old. He has not been as sharp in his last few bouts and is content to neutralize and outpoint opponents.
* Inactivity – This is Mayweather’s first bout in nearly two years. Since his win over Oscar De la Hoya in May 2007, Mayweather has only fought a total of 11 times.
* Punching Power – Most of Mayweather’s stoppage wins have come from an accumulation of punches. The usual result is the referee or opposing corner stopping the bout to prevent further punishment. Notwithstanding his explosive knockout of Victor Ortiz, it is rare to see Mayweather finish a bout with one punch, dating back to his days as a 130 lb boxer.
* Boxing Experience – Despite competing in mixed martial arts and having a reputation as a dominant striker, there is a huge gap in the technique and skill level of professional boxing, and McGregor is clearly a novice when it comes to traditional boxing.
* Easy to Hit – Throughout his mixed martial arts career, defense was never McGregor’s strong point and he has taken a number of clean punches in some of those bouts. Reports of some of his sparring sessions have surfaced stating that McGregor’s defense could be a liability.
* Instincts – McGregor does not have traditional boxing instincts due to his lack of participation in the sport. Things that come naturally to Mayweather and other trained boxers won’t come as naturally for “Mystic Mac,” and he will have to concentrate and focus on not using his legs or elbows as he would in the mixed martial arts world.
(09-12-15) Mayweather was coming off of his historic win over Manny Pacquiao when he squared off against the faded Andre Berto. The bout was a letdown with Mayweather easily coasting to a unanimous decision victory in what was announced as his retirement bout.
This is McGregor’s professional boxing debut.
3 BEST PERFORMANCES
* Diego Corrales (1/20/01) – Experts were torn on who to pick in this one with many leaning towards Corrales to win by KO. Mayweather never let him in the bout, knocking him down five times before the bout was halted in the 10th round.
* Arturo Gatti (6/25/05) – Although Mayweather was a solid betting favorite, many expected Gatti to make things rough for Mayweather. It never happened as Mayweather floored Gatti in the 1st round and dealt out a severe beating before Gatti’s corner stopped the bout after six one-sided rounds.
* Ricky Hatton (12/8/07) – Hatton was undefeated coming into the bout and set a gameplan of constant pressure to wear out Mayweather. After a few uncomfortable rounds, Mayweather was able to find his range and take over, flooring Hatton twice in the 10th round and forcing a stoppage.
* Eddie Alvarez (11/12/16 – UFC 205) – Regarded as the most dominant and complete victory in McGregor’s career. He used his footwork to keep Alvarez at bay and avoid takedowns. McGregor punished Alvarez, knocking him down twice early, and then taunting him in the 2nd round with his hands behind his back. Shortly afterwards, a four punch combination left Alvarez pulverized in defeat.
* Jose Aldo (12/12/15 – UFC 194) – A flush counter left hand from McGregor was all that was needed to knock Aldo out, dropping him on his face and scoring the win in an amazing 13 seconds.
* Diego Brandao (07/19/14 – UFC 46) – McGregor scored a takedown early and then started landing his left hand. Four minutes in, McGregor was able to cut the ring off and floor Brandao with a left hand, forcing a 1st round stoppage.
KEYS TO VICTORY
* Do not let McGregor gain any confidence
* Use superior boxing experience to create angles
* Time McGregor’s rushes and land straight right hands
* Vary his attack to the head and body
* Force Mayweather against the ropes and close the distance
* Rough Mayweather up and force him to lose composure
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
* Why is this being contested with strictly boxing rules? Simple answer is money. To compete using boxing rules, the bout will be under the Mayweather Promotions “Money Team” banner. The money from the live gate, advertising, pay-per-view revenue, etc. will go towards the fighter’s take-home pay. To compete under mixed martial arts rules would then fall under the UFC banner where Dana White would be sure to keep a large chunk of the money.
* Will the 8oz gloves have an impact? McGregor has competed in mixed martial arts using fingerless 4oz gloves. The original plan was to use 10oz boxing gloves but it has been agreed upon to use 8oz gloves instead. That still favors Mayweather as he is accustomed to using heavier gloves.
*Who has the most to lose? Mayweather, without a doubt. Outside of McGregor’s team, his most loyal fans, and novice fight fans, most pundits are expecting a dominating Mayweather victory. The odds are stacked in his favor in a traditional boxing match. If McGregor loses in a close bout, it is a moral victory and a lopsided loss, even though bruising to his ego, would be expected given their respective experience. If Mayweather loses or struggles in a close, controversial victory, his legacy would be irreparably tarnished.
* What happens if McGregor uses MMA attacks? Mayweather and his team are thorough when constructing a fight contract. His contract when fighting Manny Pacquiao looked like the equivalent of a Herman Melville novel. If McGregor tries any illegal martial arts tactics, he will surely forfeit a large chunk, if not all, of what is estimated to be at least a $75-million-dollar payday.
* Will Mayweather fight more aggressively? Over the last decade, Mayweather has made his living using his defensive and counterpunching abilities to neutralize his dangerous opponents and win on points. He hardly resembles the brilliant fighter who dazzled and overwhelmed opponents early in his career. While he will still employ a Mayweatheresque defensive strategy early, the openings McGregor presents and desire to humiliate his braggadocios adversary will result in Mayweather sitting more on his punches and looking for power opportunities to the head and body.
* Will the fight turn ugly? Neither fighter is afraid to play the arrogant villain role nor bend the rules a bit. In sparring sessions, McGregor was seen landing punches to the back of the head and pushing. Mayweather was criticized for knocking out Victor Ortiz with a punch when Ortiz was trying to apologize for a foul. The presence on Mayweather’s team of Roger Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe as combustible elements adds to the potential for drama. An ugly fight ending with either fighter disqualified is not out of the question. Referee Robert Byrd will have his hands full controlling the action if fouls start to occur.
* What happens next? If the fight turns out to be entertaining, close, or controversial, a rematch is possible. If McGregor pulls off the upset, Mayweather will certainly request a rematch. If the bout is a close Mayweather victory, his reputation may be damaged enough that he requests a rematch. If the bout ends up with a dominant Mayweather victory, McGregor can go back to the UFC a richer man and a bigger crossover star. Mayweather vows to again retire but likely only until he gets challenged again for the next ultra-rich fight. He also hinted that he may challenge McGregor in the UFC Octagon, though he told reporters on a recent conference call that this will be his last “fight.”
It will be a raucous and electric atmosphere as the fighters enter the ring, and it will build towards a crescendo during an intense staredown. As Robert Byrd goes through the instructions, McGregor will step into Mayweather’s face and try to start capitalizing on the intimidation factor. Mayweather, normally confident and relaxed, will respond with an icy glare.
McGregor will spring out of his corner for round one, moving forward on his toes and flailing his arms in an unorthodox fashion. Mayweather will move to his left away from McGregor’s power hand as McGregor presses the action and moves forward with a few wild left hands. McGregor will throw another wild left that falls short and then try to bull Mayweather into the ropes and club him with left hands. Mayweather will clinch against the ropes and McGregor will try to maul on the inside, using his shoulders as a weapon, warranting the first warning from Robert Byrd. As the bell rings to end a sloppy 1st round, McGregor will jaw with Mayweather as they walk back to their respective corners.
For the first half of the 2nd round, the pattern will continue with Mayweather playing matador to McGregor’s bull rushes and wild left hands. About a minute into the stanza, as McGregor starts another one of his advances, Mayweather will pivot to this left and land a flush right hand, causing the sweat to spray off of McGregor’s head. Mayweather will set his feet, roll his shoulders, and fire another one-two combination down the middle, feint his jab and throw another right hand, which again lands flush.
Starting in the 3rd round, Mayweather will begin to assert his dominance. McGregor will start to realize that having the best boxing ability in the mixed martial arts world does not guarantee success in the boxing world. The fastest NFL linebacker is still out of his league when racing against Usain Bolt. Mayweather’s natural ability and experience will shine as he starts to land right hands at will, and McGregor will show the effects with swelling and discoloration under his left eye.
The talent and experience disparity will be evident as the bout progresses in the 4th and 5th rounds. Mayweather will be comfortable standing in the pocket and hitting McGregor with right hands at will. While the right hand will be his punch of choice against his southpaw opponent, Mayweather will also lead with several left uppercuts, landing his punches from a dizzying assortment of angles. The end of the 5th round will see a quickly-fatiguing McGregor slumping on his stool
The 6th round will be a punishing affair, similar to Mayweather’s 2005 dissection of Arturo Gatti. Mayweather will have found the home for his right hands and will continue to land them sharply. He will also feint the jab, so when McGregor bites on the fake and turns away to protect his chin, Mayweather will drive the punch to the body before coming back over the top to the head. A left uppercut will buckle McGregor’s knees and another right hand at the bell will wobble him, sending him staggering back to his corner.
As McGregor sits on his stool, his left eye nearly swollen shut, and blood flowing from his nose, his corner will decide to save their warrior from additional punishment and stop the fight. Mayweather will rise from his stool and rejoice in his victory.
The winner by 6th round TKO is FLOYD “MONEY” MAYWEATHER JR!!!!