To the surprise of few, the boxer defeated the MMA fighter in the boxing match. Floyd Mayweather extended his record to 50-0 and declared once again he’ll be going back into retirement. As for Conor McGregor, he is now expected to return to the octagon to prepare to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship. For those who expected McGregor to depart in embarrassing defeat, his bout against Mayweather proved to be anything but such a thing.
It was almost universally expected Mayweather would win the fight, as McGregor’s MMA background put a big question mark on what would happen. Going into the fight, some thought McGregor’s UFC instincts would kick in and lead him to deliver an illegal blow that would disqualify him. Other possibilities included Mayweather outclassing his opponent in a short night or McGregor actually having the boxing skills to back up his mouth. Against all odds, that last one looked the most likely as the fight went underway.
The early going was all McGregor, coming out fast and heavy against his smaller opponent. Mayweather, who is notorious for using the early rounds to stay on the defensive and see what his opponent has, barely threw any shots in the first three rounds. He primarily blocked against jabs and combos, but that changed in the fourth. Mayweather began to let his hands go, but McGregor continued to impress by evading damage and landing counterpunches. Unfortunately, his inexperience also showed, since the referee had to warn him multiple times about delivering hammer fist blows to the back of Mayweather’s head – a common technique in MMA, but illegal in boxing.
As the fight went on, Mayweather showed signs of rust, repeatedly turning his back to McGregor in the clinch, opening himself up to a flurry of unanswered blows. However, McGregor’s stamina had become a major question at this point. The longest he ever fought before was 25 minutes, the maximum a UFC bout can last. Unsurprisingly, he started to look tired, but Mayweather seemed to just start getting fired up and began landing heavier blows that McGregor failed to dodge. Though the Irishman had much bravado and the support of the crowd, his punches weakened and didn’t land with as much power as earlier. He resorted to grabbing for a clinch to save himself from further punishment and run out the clock to catch a breath. This made him fall behind in the scorecards, making a knockout his only viable path to victory.
Both fighters promised the fight wouldn’t go the distance, and the tenth round is where Mayweather made good on that claim. Landing heavy blows against his opponent, McGregor was staggering and stopped throwing punches of his own. After another hit from Mayweather left the UFC champ hanging on the ropes, the referee stopped the fight with 1:55 remaining in the tenth, giving Mayweather a TKO. The three judges had scored the bout 87-83, 89-82, and 89-81, all in Mayweather’s favor. The boxer was gracious in victory, commending McGregor’s ability in his post-fight interview. He also said he wanted to leave fans with something to talk about, saying “I gave the fans what they wanted to see. I told them that I owed them for the Pacquiao fight. I must come straight ahead and give them a show.”
McGregor was all smiles in defeat, saying he was happy to be draped in his country’s flag and that he performed as well as he did. Both men were understandably exhausted afterwards, now showing great respect for each other, with their former animosity forgotten. One thing that won’t be forgotten is the fight they left fans with. If this is Mayweather’s swan song, he finished his career with a 50-0 record and an exciting climactic bout. For McGregor, he exceeded expectations and backed up his brash talk with a strong showing. He may not have won, but he held his own against the best boxer in modern history for ten rounds. It was a fight that didn’t disappoint.
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