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Mayweather sees off valiant McGregor

August 27, 2017

For some it was a landmark meeting of martial and noble arts, for others it was little more than a cash grab. In the most lucrative fight in boxing history, Floyd Mayweather proved he is still peerless in the sport.

USA Las Vegas Boxkampf Floyd Mayweather Jr. -  Conor McGregor
Image: Reuters/USA Today Sports/M. J. Rebilas

It was the meeting of the brash American and the even brasher Irishman.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr, 40, set to earn a guaranteed $100 million (84 million euros) for the bout, partly fueled by a record 5 million pay-per-view buys across 220 countries, it was clear to see why he came out of retirement to accept the challenge.

Despite the criticism that it was more of a business arrangement than a fight, the sheer spectacle of Conor McGregor, the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion, taking on the finest boxer of his generation at his own game was clearly too enticing for anyone to resist.

Mayweather was putting the entire reputation of boxing on the line by taking the fight. Bloodied and beleaguered, boxing has been on a gradual decline since the golden era of Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. Lose to McGregor in Las Vegas, and Mayweather would hammer a decisive nail in boxing's coffin.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. smiles as he sits in his corner in between rounds
Mayweather secured his place in boxing history to head into retirement with a record 50th straight winImage: Reuters/S. Marcus

McGregor was entering a win-win situation. Lose the fight, and McGregor returns to MMA having raised the profile of the sport further. Win, and he elevates not only MMA's status to stratospheric levels but marks himself out as the greatest combat fighter in the world. For Mayweather, losing wasn't an option. The stakes couldn't have been higher.

Many were predicting an early knockout for Mayweather, but it was McGregor who came out bouncing early on, winning the first three rounds as Mayweather struggled to get to grips with his opponent's orthodox southpaw style. Known for his accuracy and killer instinct, McGregor is lethal in the Octagon. Few gave him a chance in Mayweather's territory - even with 8oz gloves rather than the standard 10oz - but he was proving his doubters wrong in the early exchanges. Mayweather certainly knew he was in a fight.

But from round four, Mayweather stepped things up and by the fifth he'd landed a damaging left hook that left McGregor starting to look fatigued. The Irishman, who is not used to going anywhere close to 12 rounds in MMA, had seen his early energy ebb away, but admirably hung in there as the fight entered the second half.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates with the belt after winning the fight
Mayweather came out of a two-year retirement to take on the Irish martial arts starImage: Reuters/S. Marcus

A Mayweather uppercut in the eighth saw McGregor respond with a fine body-head combination, but that was the last we saw of McGregor as an attacking force. Mayweather started to wind things up, eventually leaving the referee with no option but to stop the fight in the tenth. Mayweather had accomplished the 50-0 record he'd long desired and, in doing so, surpassed the legendary Rocky Marciano's unbeaten record.

"Tonight was my last fight, for sure," said Mayweather as he confirmed his retirement from the sport. "Tonight I danced with the right partner."

Mayweather went on to admit that he saw more from the Irishman than he'd expected. "McGregor is a tough competitor; he was a lot better than I thought he was."

McGregor comes from a different world, and by lasting 10 rounds in the ring with one of the greats of the sport, he'd proved himself. The dream victory never materialized for McGregor, but he succeeds in breaking new ground for MMA. For boxing, it's back to business as usual.