Saturday, August 26th, Floyd “Money” Mayweather fought the good fight for his fans, his wallet and his sport, finishing “The Notorious” Conor McGregor in the 10th round of perhaps the most highly anticipated bout in combative sports history. This unique outing was broadcast live by Showtime Pay-Per-View, rumored to have garnered over 6 million buys, with nearly 3 million more pirating the festivities via live stream. At worst, the previous record of 4.6 million buys, for Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquaio, appears to have been surpassed, but that won’t be proven fact until the final receipts have been tabulated.
Speaking of the Pacquaio event, Mayweather acknowledged the lack of entertainment value that night and went out of his way to insure his ring time with McGregor was fan friendly and worth the price of viewership. For the first 3-4 rounds, McGregor took center ring, backed Mayweather to the ropes and unloaded shots on his gloves/torso. After officially weighing in at 153 pounds, Conor was upwards of 170, noticeably bigger than Floyd in the ring, who was 149 1/2 on the scale. But once McGregor’s assault inevitably ceased, Floyd straight lined towards him behind a high, tight guard, size discrepancy notwithstanding. This approach led to Mayweather, probably the greatest defensive fighter of all time, getting hit more than fans are accustomed to seeing, evidenced by a surprising southpaw counter uppercut he ate early, along with a handful of right jabs.
Convinced he’d tasted McGregor’s best shots already, Mayweather (50-0, 26 KO’s) began taking center ring at the ding of the bell, signaling the start of round 5. He’d done subtle damage to this point, landing lead rights to the body, only now the same shot became more readily available to McGregor’s (21-3, 18 KO’s, 1 submission, 0-1 in Boxing) head. With each ensuing stanza, McGregor resembled a vehicle with 5 miles of fuel left in the tank, yet 10 miles away from the nearest gas station; his fate was transparent.
Floyd ramped up the pressure from the 6th onwards, defiantly walking Conor down, winging lefts and lead rights. In Round 9, a right cross-left cross combo caught McGregor on the ropes, who tried to spin and hold, but was hurt by a chopping, follow-up right. Exhausted, Conor looked up at the clock and spent the remainder of the stanza retreating on unsteady legs, as Floyd stalked him like a serial killer in a horror flick.
The 10th was academic and Mayweather was ready to close the show, landing a couple flush body shots in the clinch and forcing McGregor to give ground behind a flurry of wild lead rights. A hard lead right staggered McGregor into the ropes, a left hook spun him sideways and another left hook made his knees dip, forcing referee, Robert Byrd, to halt the proceedings, 1:05 into the round. In the moment, there were no complaints from Conor whatsoever, though he would later say he thought the stoppage was premature.
It didn’t take long for the combatants to exchange pleasantries and who could blame them, with bare minimum guarantees of $100 mil and $70 mil, respectively (excluding the live gate, pay-per-view, merchandising, etc.). Hard to be mad at someone you’ve done that level of business with.
In the aftermath, theories abound; some suggesting Floyd had to adjust and go to Plan-B, after Conor got the better of him early. Others opining Floyd carried Conor early, stretched the fight out on purpose, then ended him when he felt like it. The truth is somewhere in the middle; turning 40 and sitting on the shelf for 2 years certainly hasn’t helped Mayweather, who lacked his customer sharpness, accuracy and had the look of a man who should retire. And while McGregor’s early success surprised some, it’s doubtful he’d replicate it against a younger, fresher, more active boxer. Paulie Malignaggi, who found himself embroiled in a pre-fight video controversy with Team McGregor, would be about the only viable, realistic, pugilistic option for Conor, moving forward.
Given the landscape, Boxing needed Mayweather to not only win, but win by stoppage, which he promised and delivered on. We can add Mayweather-McGregor to the list of cross pollination in combat sports; Muhammad Ali vs. professional wrestler, Antonio Inoki, “Judo” Gene LeBell vs. boxer Milo Savage, Ray Mercer vs. mixed martial artist, Tim Sylvia, and Randy Couture vs. James Toney.
Despite the circus like atmosphere, what’s most important is none of the paying customers went home feeling cheated, which is a win for all parties and both sports involved. A “black eye” wasn’t delivered to Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts, and we’ll almost certainly see affairs of this ilk down the road.