Tonight, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor clash in what will likely be one of the highest earning boxing matches in history. To put that in perspective, the estimated purses are around $100 million for Mayweather and $75 million for McGregor. That’s more than most households will earn jointly in their lives, multiple times over. Heckuva lot, right?
So, how did this whole thing come to be? Well, from what I can tell, it all began with Conor McGregor pushing for it. Say what you want about the man, but he knows how to make money. He not only made himself a marketable commodity for UFC, he backed up his words well enough to maintain his rise once it had begun. When you’re arguably the top drawing star in a sport, it makes sense that facing off with the top drawing star of another is going to bring in the fans, right? So, things went back and forth for a while and, eventually, Mayweather agreed to come out of retirement for the fight.
And so began a mass of media appearances. Since the build to the fight began in earnest, both men have been hurling insults at each other and pretty much promising that they’ll win the fight. From what I’ve read, the approach hasn’t gone down well with a lot of boxing purists. In fact, a lot of people I’ve seen passing comment on the fight have said pretty much the same two things: ‘Childish insults are not what boxing is about’, and ‘It’s a pointless fight. Mayweather is going to humiliate McGregor’.
The question is, are they right? Well, there have been plenty of boxers over the years that have played the banter game. Even the legendary Muhammed Ali was known to use wrestling style promos to hype up fights. Sure, it’s not what the sport is about when you come down to it, but it is a big part of marketing. As to whether the fight is pointless or not … I don’t honestly think that it’s as clean cut as that.
The first thing to note here is the difference in experience between the two combatants. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has had 49 professional fights, and won all of them, 26 of which were finished by KO. On the other hand, Conor McGregor is making his professional boxing debut. Seems a bit of a mismatch, doesn’t it? The thing is, Conor McGregor is no slouch in the pro fight game. His MMA record shows an impressive 21 wins in his 24-fight career, 18 of which were finished my KO. While MMA and boxing have different rules, it really cannot be denied that McGregor is more than capable of holding his own when it comes to combat sports. While he may not have the pure experience of his foe, the fact that he was 2 division champion in UFC is in itself an impressive accolade that should not be overlooked.
When you look at things purely based on the difference in experience, Mayweather is the easy pick, and that’s been reflected by the various betting shops that are promoting the fight. Truth be told, that experience could even be said to nullify McGregor’s natural advantages in age, height, and reach. Even knowing that McGregor is a southpaw, and that Mayweather has previously found southpaws harder to deal with may not matter because the fact remains that Mayweather is undefeated.
But what about the recent change to lighter 8oz gloves? Does that make a difference? In a way, yes. The stats above show that McGregor is a knock-out specialist. In UFC though, fighters wear 4oz gloves. The previously stipulated 10oz gloves are more than double the weight of McGregor’s normal gloves. That extra weight would have the effect of reducing McGregor’s punching power. On top of that, Mayweather has been accused many times of having brittle hands, so the extra weight helps protect that. That all means that heavier gloves favour Mayweather. Sure, 8oz gloves are still double McGregor’s normal weight, but they do help counter some of the points above . So, why did Mayweather agree to the change? Therein lies McGregor’s biggest hurdle to clear tonight: Mayweather is taking him far more seriously than the general press is.
So, what do I mean by that? Well, there are two things to note here. The first is the obvious one: Mayweather has outright stated that he will have no excuses for the result tonight, and he doesn’t McGregor to have any either. Lowering the weight of the gloves means that McGregor has less to blame if he does take the ponding that many expect. That’s not the thing that I think is most telling though. The lighter gloves will increase Mayweather’s hand speed, as well as McGregor’s. It’s worth noting that Mayweather hasn’t won by KO since 2011, meaning that that increase could be seen as negligable in terms of attack power, but that’s not what I think that Mayweather is using teh weight drop for. The main point here is that the increase in hand speed allows Mayweather to get a boost in his already strong defence.
Mayweather is not an idiot. He knows how hard Conor McGregor can hit, and he knows that Conor McGregor is coming in with the intent of serving him his first professional loss. Giving himself a chance at better defence means that Mayweather knows that Conor McGregor will not be the push-over that the press would have you believe.
Of course, if Mayweather is taking the fight that seriously, that means that he’ll bring his best, right? Absolutely! He has a legacy to protect, and certainly wouldn’t want his first (and you would think, only) loss to come at the hands of a debuting boxer, even if it is one with the name value of Conor McGregor. But then, Conor McGregor is also going to bring his best. He will be taking this fight deadly seriously, and he certainly won’t be expecting any less than Mayweather’s best when he steps between the ropes.
The question is, who will walk away with the win? If you believe the press, the smart money is on Mayweather. Hell, logic would dictate that they’re right. I just can’t help but think that everyone is going to be in for a shock. Conor McGregor has a habit of being able to do exactly what’s needed to overcome the obstacles in his way, and you have to believe that he will be aiming to do just that here. It won’t be an easy fight by any means, for either man. Nor do I think that it will it be over as quickly as many expect. Given how driven he is though, I’m going to say that Conor McGregor pulls off the upset here.
Now, let’s see if that works any better as a prediction than my pro wrestling ones have of late.