Well folks, it looks more and more likely that Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather will fight Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor in boxing match that will bring the biggest draw in boxing for the past decade against the biggest draw in MMA – ever.
Rightly or wrongly, it is a fight that has garnered massive attention globally, not just within the boxing and MMA media circles either, it has made its way to mainstream media outlets also. Everyone has an opinion on it, from the hardcore boxing fans point of view it is a complete mismatch. 49 opponents have tried to work out the ‘May-vinci’ code and each and every one has been unable to find the key to victory. Even within the staunch MMA fan base, many feel it is a freak-show fight that would expose Conor and he would be outclassed from rounds one through to twelve.
But behind all the hype, opinions and trash talking from either man’s camp, is it as black and white as it seems? I am of the opinion that this isn’t the complete ‘schooling ‘ that so many think it would be. Don’t get me wrong, Mayweather is the greatest defensive boxer I have ever seen and is exactly what the ‘sweet-science’ all about – he lands lots of punches, doesn’t waste a lot in throwing them, and he’s extremely hard to hit. His skillset is world-class, his boxing IQ and timing are a joy to watch.
Mayweather has benefited from picking and choosing his opponents, but he has still made the likes of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton and Arturo Gatti look amateurish. Quite simply, he has had no equal both in terms of technical skill and within a financial perspective. However, in the highly competitive and unpredictable world of boxing, Mayweather has had his moments of ‘looking mortal’; ‘Sugar’ Shane Moseley caught him with a blistering shot that had Mayweather visibly wobbled.
The unheralded journeyman Emanuel Augustus gave a young Mayweather a torrid night until being stopped in the ninth round of their bout. Jose Luis Castillo had two opportunities to take the ‘0’ from Mayweather and utilized a pressure game that he struggled to cope with and truth be told, Mayweather was lucky to scrape with 2 wins (although their 1st fight was massively controversial and many including myself feel Castillo deserved the win). Most recently, Marcos Maidana non-stop aggression and volume of punches gave Mayweather another night he would want to forget, but like a true champion he eventually adjusted to Maidana’s ‘gung-ho’ style and was able to secure the majority-decision win.
As you would expect after a professional career that spans 20 years, Mayweather would succumb to ‘father-time’ and he has slightly slowed down somewhat, but at nearly 40 years of age a return to the ring would surely see him P4P king. Against against a non-boxer in Conor McGregor, you would expect him to pick his opponent off and evade trouble throughout the bout.
His new foe, (Conor McGregor) has become everything that Mayweather used to synonymous with – brash, cocky, vocal on his large bank account and constant grandstanding about how he “runs this game”. A lot of the time, both men essentially churn out the same bravado about one another and their sports. A lot of the time unless it is specified, their quotes could be swapped with one another and no eyebrows would be raised. Like Mayweather, Conor too has had ‘bad days in the office‘ he would soon wish to forget.
All of Conor’s defeats have come by submission, and bar the Nate Diaz fights, no opponent has out-struck him. In all his wins he has shown unique timing and ability in being able to find a home for his left hand and every opponent who has been in the cage with Conor have remarked that his power is unexpected.
In the post-fight conference after beating Eddie Alvarez, Conor stated, “They have got to have size, reach, length, you have got to have some attributes. If you come in any way equal to me I am going to rip your head off, it happens every time.” Conor stands at 5 ft 9 in with a 74 inch reach while Mayweather stands at 5 ft 8 with a 72 inch reach. McGregor currently competes inside of the 155 lbs division where he holds the UFC title after being forced to vacate the 145 lbs title due to inactivity inside of the division. Mayweather tends to compete between 147 and 154 lbs.
Let’s take out all the hurdles that remain with the UFC, TV battles, venues and licensing etc. and say for the sake of argument both men agree to meet at a catchweight of 150 lbs. How, realistically could Conor win? Looking at the finer details, he actually has a lot working in his favour; Floyd in recent times has had a lot of issues with his hands and hasn’t knocked since Victor Ortiz since 2011 (but let’s be honest, it was a cheapshot and more of Ortiz not protecting himself). So realistically, his last competitive knockout victory was against Ricky Hatton in 2007. Conor has shown he has a granite chin, and with heavier gloves danger in him being KO’d is marginal. The mind games used previously against other opponents wouldn’t help him at all here. Mayweather has been there and done that. Trash talking in the ring will also prove futile.
Conor’s gameplan should be to attack from the opening bell – he needs to do is get aggressive and dirty. Yes, he runs the risk of being deducted points, but his best tactic is get in the clinch, get him up against the ropes and use his assumed greater physicalities and strength to ‘ruffle up’ Mayweather. Castillo, Maidana and even Hatton in the early rounds of their bout had success in taking Mayweather off-kilter. In Mayweather’s most recent bouts, it has taken longer to figure out his opponents and Conor needs to take advantage of this.
Like the Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez bouts, Conor needs to pick his moments and make sure his timing is on point. Could he find a home for that left-hook? Definitely. There will never be a better time for the fight to happen, Mayweather has declined and Conor is in his prime. Yes, he might be schooled in large parts of the fight, but he only needs to hit Mayweather cleanly once and I truly believe that he has the ability to shock the world.
Like it or not, this fight MUST happen. There is too much money for it not to happen and both sports benefit from having a wider-audience involved. MMA is on a real trajectory at present and some of that comes down to Conor McGregor rapid growth. He has brought in an audience that no one before has. So too, has Mayweather, he has been involved in the biggest fight of all time in his bout with Manny Pacquiao. Whilst it didn’t deliver on its near 5-year hype, this one is much different. Crucially it has 2 very outspoken men who know how to promote a fight and both sides bring with them a rabid fan base. This will far outstrip anything previously achieved in both sports and will be an event which is once in a lifetime spectacle.
Should McGregor achieve the unthinkable at beat the undefeated Mayweather, we are looking at someone who becomes not only one of the biggest sports stars in history, but someone who evolves into a global pop culture icon. Bet against him at your peril.