It was all but a foregone conclusion.
When UFC champion Conor McGregor stood across from boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on August 26th, it was the first time he’d ever competed in the sport.
Everyone (including McGregor and his trainers) knew that transitioning his skills would be a tricky process. The order was a tall one, given that “The Notorious” was squaring off against a man many call one of the best ever.
The highly anticipated clash had so much hype that it broke systems built to distribute it – PPV and satellite providers noted many problems delivering the event due to high volumes of orders in a short timeframe.
“Money” was in familiar territory as he returned to his home turf, stepping back into the ring for the first time since his win over Andre Berto in 2015. Despite being out of action for nearly two years, the undefeated Mayweather certainly didn’t show any signs of ring rust.
McGregor was game, staying on the offensive and evading damage early in the bout. He managed to keep things somewhat competitive in the early rounds, as Mayweather appeared to lay back and analyze McGregor’s style so he could counter – a method that helped him topple much more experienced boxers in the past.
Around the sixth round, McGregor appeared to tire. The UFC standout came into the bout with a considerable weight advantage. Though his added mass made it possible for him to generate more power, Mayweather was able to neutralize his opponent’s offense with movement and angles.
Once McGregor slowed, and his power became less of a threat, Mayweather went to work. Though credited heavily for his defensive fighting style, he also showed off his counterpunching ability throughout the contest.
Mayweather had all the answers, countering McGregor’s assault with perfectly placed punches and continuing to wear down his already-fatigued opponent.
The stoppage came in the tenth round, as Mayweather put together a vicious series of offense that had McGregor on his heels. Though McGregor was never knocked off his feet, the referee had seen enough when Mayweather landed several heavy, unanswered shots in quick succession. McGregor admitted he thought the stoppage came a bit early. He was accepting of the decision.
McGregor complemented Mayweather after the bout, citing his composure as his greatest strength. Mayweather proved why he is a technical master, and McGregor surprised many with his performance. For someone who had never boxed professionally, he landed a decent amount of shots and hung around longer than many analysts had predicted.
Mayweather has been called the best boxer of his generation for a reason. While McGregor’s punching power always presented a threat, it was unlikely that an outsider to boxing would topple one of the greats in his area of expertise.
Mayweather showed great sportsmanship after the fight, where he confirmed his retirement. He said: “This was my last fight. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, for sure I chose the right dance partner to dance with. Conor McGregor, you are a hell of a champion.”