The 10 rounds that Mayweather and McGregor shared last night flew by in what seemed like no time. McGregor’s early pressure counted for little as Mayweather slowly took over the fight taking minimal risk while implementing a carefully constructed game plan. In a build up that has called into question the ability of professional boxers to the striking of a mega UFC star, Mayweather was able to comprehensively defend the integrity of the sport.
First it is important to pay respect to ‘the Notorious’. A journey that has seen him rise to the top of combat sports from relatively unknown over the course of 4 years is truly admirable. This was a step too far. Fans may draw on the length of the fight to argue he performed well. While he stayed in there and attempted to make Mayweather uncomfortable it did little good. Mayweather was never in any real trouble and early success seemed to be designed by the American fighter to draw out McGregor’s energy.
If it was not the game plan of Mayweather to tire the boxing debutant it is one hell of a coincidence. ‘The Best Ever’ was cool in all the build up even when faced with McGregor’s famed mind games. They did nothing to the unflappable unbeaten boxer. While McGregor promised much, in which he genuinely believed he could deliver, nothing materialised. A well timed and powerful uppercut landed in the early stages as Mayweather came forward was a sign of what was to come. It did not cause Mayweather any trouble. One of the two shots that the Irishman said would put ‘Money’ to sleep taken and did not even spark a talking point.
While you have to respect McGregor’s mentality and eagerness to make the fight you have to concede that he never hurt or really put pressure on his opponent. It was a tall order from day one and even knowing that fight fans had faith in the UFC fighter to do the business. McGregor’s self belief is real and fans are forced to listen when he makes comments with such conviction. However, it was just not to be and he looked truly inferior in the ring.
On the other hand Mayweather was just as you would expect. Calm, classy and composed. McGregor’s different stances, movement and punching angles could have easily caused him headaches, non of the above did. He controlled the fight from the minute the bout was confirmed. McGregor famously insists it is a different ball game when you sign to fight him. The same is true for Mayweather. And some. Everyone has the game plan to stop him before the fight, all have had respect boxed into them in the ring. He has seen it all, he has beat the best and now he retires 50-0.
The early stages were dominated by the Irishman throwing punches and trying to draw a mistake or open a gap in Mayweather’s famed defence. ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd does not give chances. McGregor struggled with the pace and after a couple of rounds, as he so often does, Mayweather took over. Starting to land more shots with more power as the fight progressed. It became easy for the American after the midway point when McGregor truly wilted.
McGregor had some success at the start of the 9th round but it felt as it was his last hurrah in the fight. He landed a body shot, which may have been low, that drew a reaction from Mayweather. When the short break taken after the exchange ended Mayweather was on McGregor again almost as if he could smell blood. It ended soon after with a flurry of punches. One caused ‘the Notorious’ to stagger back and it looked ominous from there. Granted the stoppage may have been due to fatigue rather than punishment. You have to be able to defend yourself in boxing. McGregor looked unable to do so. In a boxing ring the stoppage was fair and just. Perhaps not in McGregor’s mind or by UFC standards.
Mayweather is a polarising figure in the sport of boxing. He did the sport a huge favour in this bout. If he would have lost it would have been disastrous not just for him but for the boxing community. Just as it would be if the impossible happened and he got into the octagon and beat McGregor. In a MMA contest McGregor would beat Mayweather in emphatic fashion. While Mayweather did not leave McGregor on the canvas in early stages it was the boxing equivalent. He implemented a game plan, made his opponent exert his energy and let the punches fly when he was in no danger of receiving punishment. Perfection in a boxing ring.
There is a difference between the two combat sports and the gulf in class in a boxing match was evident. McGregor will learn from this. In his own word, ‘we win or we learn’. He came back and avenged his loss against Nate Diaz, he will not be given the opportunity to do that this time – he might not even want to. He will improve and he may even box again. Who would not want to see him get in their with Paulie Malignaggi? However, he has a lot to learn. But one thing is for sure McGregor will come again in some form of combat and he will be better than ever.
Final word has to go to Mayweather on this occasion. His glittering 21 year career will go down as one of the best the sport has ever seen. Nicknamed ‘the Best Ever’ it seems fitting after last night. A younger, stronger and unique opponent handled with what seemed like little effort. What he has been magnificent all through his career. He has made the best boxers of his generation look average. He is a true great of the sport.