Conor McGregor was just making his name in MMA when he started calling out Floyd Mayweather’s. The Irishman, seduced by the ludicrous amount of money the boxing king was making with a safety first approach, recognised the marketability in this showdown before anyone else.
For a long time, Mayweather ignored him as he merrily dominated his last few boxing rivals. He didn’t need the likes of McGregor back then. And then, with Conor’s appeal going stratospheric and Mayweather’s ring earnings ceased due to retirement, the American superstar approached Conor’s team and said he was open to the idea.
Negotiations began tentatively, the media – and in turn the public – were teased with the contest’s progress before it became clear early in 2017 that this unthinkable ‘fight’ was nigh. What we’re left with is one of the greatest boxers in history, and the owner of spotless 49-0 record, taking on a debutant with minimal boxing experience.
Not only that, this is not an exhibition fight, or a hybrid of boxing and MMA, this is a sanctioned boxing match that will go down in the record books. Frankly, the Nevada State Athletic Commission should hang their heads in shame.
IT’S EXCITING THOUGH, RIGHT?
Well, there’s certainly a buzz. Or a deafening racket, depending on your opinion. The world tour, which went from Los Angeles to London via Toronto and New York, highlighted the appeal in this bout. That appeal, if you don’t delve too deeply, is understandable; the apparently unbeatable Mayweather, the cocksure fighter many fans love to hate, is coming out of retirement to take on the loveable MMA superstar whose jackhammer left hand, if it lands, might just upset the odds.
But before laying a mountain (or even a pebble) of cash on the underdog further investigation is required.
To say McGregor hasn’t boxed before isn’t true because he did so as an amateur, at novice level, while he was a teenager, but his experience – compared to Mayweather’s – is chronically low.
Even if this fight was set for 2020, and the Irishman could spend the next three years learning the trade, he would still be an outrageous novice compared to his opponent, who has been boxing since he was a toddler. Not only that, Mayweather is not just experienced, he’s one of the most naturally gifted fighters in history and a defensive genius to boot.
DOES McGREGOR HAVE ANY CHANCE?
He has a chance because he’ll be in the same ring and, as the old saying goes, you have to be in it to win it.
But, no, his chances of victory are somewhere between zero and zilch.
But for those desperate for evidence that McGregor can score the biggest surprise since an iceberg got the better of RMS Titanic in 1912, there are some flickers of hope.
Mayweather certainly seemed to be ruffled by McGregor’s antics at the aforementioned world tour and, for a man used to winning the war of words at this point, the Irishman’s mouth may have given the veteran food for thought. Whether it’s enough to actually distract him when it matters most is another thing entirely, though.
The other factors those with McGregor-tinted glasses on may say are in the underdog’s favour are:
Mayweather’s age. At 40, he’s 12 years Conor’s senior and he hasn’t fought since 2015 when he dominated the overmatched Andre Berto. McGregor’s youth, coupled with his rough and ready style, has led some to believe an upset could be on the way; The other is Floyd’s ‘problem’ with southpaws and McGregor’s lively left hand.
It’s true that Mayweather has been stung by left hands in the past, but the defining truth is that he’s never really had that much trouble winning those fights.
And while we’re at it, any recent footage of McGregor appearing to knock down boxer Paul Malignaggi should be taken with a pinch of salt. If McGregor looked like dynamite in sparring, we would have seen far more than 13 seconds of those sessions.
Even if Mayweather were 50, it’s likely the American – who reads an opponent better than almost anyone – would neutralise McGregor’s crude attacks with the minimum of fuss.
Some have said it would be a moral victory if McGregor hears the final bell. It would also be a surprise.
Even at 40, Mayweather will not find his opponent hard to hit, and it will be a whole new world of hitting for the Irishman. It’s unlikely he’ll see the finishing blow coming, and given he tires in the Octagon after three rounds (which last five minutes, admittedly) chances are he’s going to be exhausted after a similar amount of time chasing Mayweather.
The pick here is for Floyd to drop the bomb for a farcical win in the fifth at 12/1, but anything from the fourth to the ninth is perfectly feasible.
Should you still want to bet on McGregor, then just pick any round. They’re all as unlikely as each other.