Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0) had too much experience, proved too smart, and wore down a game Conor McGregor (0-1) to notch a 10th-round TKO victory at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Before a crowd of 14,623, the pair delivered a far more entertaining fight than many expected. Indeed, it was the UFC lightweight champion who took the initiative in the early rounds by outworking and out-landing a very hesitant Mayweather.
There were some fears that McGregor might try some MMA moves in the squared circle, and, though there were some hammer fists, clinching, mauling, and punches to the back of the head from both men, the fight never got out of control.
Mayweather found his mojo in the fourth round, and upped his punch output—using his right hand to land punishing power shots. For most of his career he’s been a counter puncher, but in this fight Mayweather was the aggressor—marching forward to engage with McGregor. This tactic paid dividends in the later rounds, as a worn-down McGregor was unable to stop that right-handed power shot from ending the fight.
In the ninth round Mayweather hurt McGregor, who was then on wobbly legs and looked absolutely exhausted. The Irishman somehow managed to make it out of the round, but he was almost out on his feet. In the tenth stanza Mayweather picked up where he left off, and stunned McGregor yet again with another hard right. The 40-year-old began to rain blows on McGregor, who was flailing and not returning any punches. After a sustained barrage of shots, referee Robert Byrd jumped in to stop the fight with 1:05 gone in the round.
Mayweather told Showtime’s Jim Gray that he was surprised with McGregor’s quality: “He was a lot better than I thought he was. He used different angles; he was a tough competitor, but I was the better man tonight.”
The hesitant opening was all part of Team Mayweather’s strategy. “Our game plan was to take our time, go to him, let him shoot all his heavy shots early, and then take him out at the end down the stretch,” he added.
Mayweather reminded Gray that he kept his pre-fight promise: “We know in MMA, he fights hard for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, he started to slow down. I guaranteed everybody that this wouldn’t go the distance.”
Even though it looks like he’ll earn upwards of $300 million for his night’s work, Mayweather has no intention of lacing up the gloves again: “This was my last fight, tonight, ladies and gentleman. Tonight was my last fight for sure.”
McGregor was gracious in defeat when talking to Gray. “I thought that I took the early rounds pretty handy. He had to change his style, and fair play to him he did,” he said. “He’s composed; he’s not that fast, he’s not that powerful, but boy is he composed in there. He was making me throw, and he was patient with his shots. I got to give him respect, fair play to him, what a great career he has had.”
The greatest upset in combat sports history did not occur, but boxing fans got a decent fight experience. Also, Mayweather sails off into the sunset with a huge wad of cash, while McGregor also makes very decent bank and is able to hold his head high after a respectable performance.
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