Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor – Fight of the Year
The hottest rumour in the boxing world over the past 12 months has been about a return to the ring of Floyd Mayweather Jr, and it’s finally come to fruition. The greatest boxer of his generation will take on Conor McGregor, the trash talking Irishman who is a two-weight UFC world champion in the most hotly anticipated fight for years. The contracts were signed in June and we have seen a huge amount of coverage since. The highly anticipated bout will take place on 26 August in Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena. It will take place at 154lbs, the boxing light middleweight division and a pound beneath the UFC lightweight division that McGregor rules.
The purse split has not yet been announced. but it looks like the fight will take in between $450 and $650 million and neither fighter will be struggling for cash afterwards. Suggestions are that both men are making over $100 million, although the money will largely be dependant on the PPV sales. Tammy Ross, formerly senior Vice President of HBO PPV, suggested the PPV aspect of the fight will be hurt by the Mayweather – Pacquaio fight as “people were so dissapointed afterwards.” Predictions vary between three and five million though, so we’re not talking small figures here. McGregor has broken the million mark in his last three bouts, while Mayweather has met that mark eight times. The sponsorship figure is set to almost double the Manny fight with the main sponsor expected to pay a $10 million for the prime advertising space. The ticket prices have not been released but it is expected that they will begin at over $1,500, possibly $2,000.
Stylistically this is an odd fight to break down, purely because of the presence of a mixed martial arts fighter in a boxing ring. Mayweather has given almost every boxer he has ever fought nightmares. His defensive ability and footwork makes him very difficult to catch with clean shots, and he controls the ring with superb timing and control in his aggression. McGregor in the UFC has shown himself as a heavy hitter, utilising an awkward southpaw stance and holding a couple of inches advantage in the reach department. He also has a great deal of confidence in himself and his speed and ability to time his offence means he often fights with his hands down. One of the first videos of him sparring came against Chris Van Heerden, and although at times he impressed, Van Heerden gets the better of the spar. A couple of sparring partners have been impressed with his boxing ability, although this has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Most will be impressed if he is better than expected but taking on Floyd is a whole different matter. For Conor a win will likely come from a high pace fight resulting in him landing a powerful punch. Mayweather was hurt by Shane Mosley early on but his defensive skills mean you usually do not see Floyd in pain. For Floyd, this fight should look like most of his fights, with him trying to avoid taking shots and using his excellent ring control and timing to win the fight.
Somewhat oddly for a man with a perfect 49-0 record, the pressure is on Mayweather to win. A loss would harm his credibility as an all time great and he has the weight of the boxing world on his shoulders. He is defending the noble art against the young, brash sport represented by a young, brash Irishman and a loss would severely damage his reputation. Unfortunately for Floyd, in the eyes of the purist, this is a must win. A win for Floyd would take him to the “magical” 50-0, although that is a mark that appeals more to casual than to hardcore boxing fans. It is a win that does very little for his legacy, and I personally will not move Mayweather up my all-time list (25th greatest) based on his performance here. Yes, 50 does give him an extra win over Rocky Marciano but given the different eras it isn’t really representative, and Ricardo Lopez retired with 51 wins and 0 losses – a draw being the only blemish he had. Do we hold the losses of Sugar Ray Robinson, Sam Langford and Henry Armstrong against them? The unbeaten boxer has arguably been a bad thing for the sport as promoters and boxers become risk averse to protect the undefeated fighter. Julio Cesar Chavez has the longest undefeated steak in boxing, not losing for 90 fights after his debut, but a legacy comes from far more than simple numbers. This is not a legacy defining fight. A win, really adds nothing, whilst a loss will definitely affect how we remember Floyd Mayweather.
For Conor McGregor, as much as this looks a no-win bout for Mayweather, this is a no-lose bout for him. A loss can be easily explained away as this is not the sport he competes in! 49 boxers have failed to beat him so it will be no surprise if McGregor doesn’t. Most boxers struggle to take rounds off of Mayweather so success is all relative. A loss will not harm McGregor to the extent where it sees his earning potential really decrease. A win, makes him an even bigger star. He was already popular but beating Mayweather should enjoy him a platform on a whole other level. It puts him up there in terms of the highest paid sports stars in the world and he will be able to dictate his next move which will undoubtedly make him even more money. With a win here, McGregor could become the biggest sportsman under the age of 30.
If Floyd does win and goes to 50-0, then I would expect him to look at retirement again. He will have beaten the Marciano record (apparently an aim for him) and 50 is a nice round number to end his career on. You can almost see all the merchandise with a big ’50’ on already. At this point for Floyd, any bout he would take in the future has to really add to either his bank account or his legacy without too much risk. In my mind, it’s unlikely Mayweather wants to fight Errol Spence or Keith Thurman and I see only two ways that Mayweather is tempted to return to the ring:
- If there is any sort of controversy or impressive moments for Conor, Floyd could look at a rematch. If the audience see enough in the first fight to suggest Conor has a greater chance in a second fight, then it will make even more money and become an option for Floyd.
- The other bout that Floyd may take is if Saul Alvarez beats Gennady Golovkin. He has already beat Canelo but the Mexican will have rebuilt himself and become one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world. It can be labelled as Alvarez rebounding from the loss and growing up. Mayweather would still probably be favourite and this bout would be between the two biggest boxing PPV draws.
Although, the likeliest outcome has to be if he wins, he retires at 50-0.
For McGregor, a big part of what he does next probably depends on how this fight goes. A close loss, where there was obvious signs that he troubles Mayweather and I could see Conor desiring a rematch. Everyone speaks of his drive to be the best and you can look at his rematch with Nate Diaz, where he wanted to replicate the exact circumstances instead of fighting at a smaller weight which they both could make but would have surely would have given McGregor the advantage. If the Mayweather rematch is not an option, I would be surprised if Conor boxes again. The other boxers around his weight that are a big draw are Golovkin and Canelo, with Pacquaio probably being too light and Spence and Thurman not being huge draws currently.
MMA writer, Jeremy Botter suggested at the beginning of 2016 that McGregor had a limited number of MMA fights remaining and noted the trademarking of “McGregor Sports and Entertainment.” McGregor, it seems, wants to be far more than an incredible fighter. He wants to use his exposure to go into business along the lines of a Michael Jordan and Oscar De La Hoya. It has been suggested, by Jon Fitch for one, that the UFC are breaking the Ali Act with the way they are involved in the McGregor deal and that McGregor could use it to escape his UFC contract. That would put him in the position to renegotiate his UFC contract and possibly leverage his way into ownership. Unfortunately the Ali Act has never quite manifested itself in a way that looks to give McGregor hope, and he considered himself too big for the UFC before he even was. Pigeon-holing the Irishman seems naive and you would imagine his overall aim will be to build McGregor Sports and Entertainment and extend his earning potential long after he retires from fighting.
Back to the fight itself. The odds are Floyd Mayweather (1/6), Conor McGregor (4/1) and draw (50/1). All the reports suggest that the money has been going down on McGregor rather than Mayweather, but the suggestion here has to be Mayweather. If you are not a particularly big bettor then your returns will not look particularly impressive, but despite that, it’s still a good value bet.
The suggestion would be to put it into doubles and trebles to give yourself an odds boost. For example the George Groves, Floyd Mayweather and Chris Eubank treble pays at 17/20. Or for a larger than even money shot (Caravaggio to win the July Cup) takes it to 11/8. It is almost worth looking at adding Mayweather to every bet you make if you are willing to wait for winnings as it gives a kicker to your odds at very good value. Mayweather is a great bet at this price, especially when you consider that you return less money on Chris Eubank Jr beating Arthur Abraham and Terrence Crawford beating Julius Indongo. I think about 1/20 is the correct price for Mayweather so despite the odds looking short it’s still looking good value. I would also look for a Mayweather points victory in the method of victory market. His last stoppage came in his 42nd fight against Victor Ortiz which came controversially and prior to that it was Ricky Hatton in his 39th. He is primarily a risk averse defensive fighter and I do not see Floyd being desperate for a stoppage. If the opportunty presents itself then he will look to take it, but not at risk to his own chances. Conor McGregor is also used to taking punches from 4 ounce UFC gloves and is rated as having a decent chin. The only issue could be the stamina given the longest fight McGregor could have is 25 minutes whereas this could go 36 minutes. Given that, if a stoppage occurs it may be worth looking at the second half of the fight and possibly Mayweather to win in rounds 10-12 at 5/1. There will likely be lots of specials on the day so that will be worth keeping an eye. The market that most sums up the ridiculousness of this fight to boxing fans is, McGregor is 10/1 to land less than 10 total punches in the fight and it does not seem crazy!