Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather. The two-weight UFC world champion versus the pound-for-pound boxing number one. A fantasy fight that enflamed the imaginations of mixed-martial arts and boxing fans alike is now a reality. After months of verbal sparring, McGregor announced that he signed his side of the deal for this potentially record-smashing cross-discipline fight. On June 14, Mayweather posted a video online confirming ‘it’s official’, with a date set for August 26. Beyond the eye-watering numbers, public grandstanding and unprecedented hype, the question arises: who will win this historic boxing match?
Well, Mayweather, of course. No doubt about it. That is the overwhelming consensus amongst the boxing community, anyway. A host of fighters and pundits from the boxing world have publicly backed the American to dismantle, humiliate, and destroy the Irish MMA fighter. Tony Bellew says that Mayweather will win ‘when he wants and how he wants’. Boxing legend Mike Tyson abruptly stated ‘I don’t give McGregor a chance’, whilst Sugar Ray Leonard was more specific, predicting that McGregor would not even make it past the first round. Fight promoter Eddie Hearn believes that the fight would be the ‘biggest boxing mismatch ever’, and analyst Steve Bunce declared that ‘Mayweather would win without taking a punch. It would be a massacre’. In fact, you would have to go a long way to find anyone who gives McGregor a realistic chance of winning.
On the surface, the bout does seem like it will lead to only one winner. Floyd Mayweather is undefeated with a record of 49-0, and is widely regarded by boxing purists as one of the greatest fighters of all time. He has never been knocked down, and the number of times he has even been hurt in a fight can be counted on one hand. If, then, some of the world’s best boxers could barely touch Mayweather – what chance does McGregor, someone who has never even fought in a professional boxing bout, have?
Certainly half a chance, and then some. Whilst there is no doubt that the odds are stacked against the Dublin-born UFC fighter, there are a few crucial factors that could prove pivotal, and lead to McGregor’s arm being raised at the end of the fight.
The Irishman has a number of key physical attributes in his favour compared to the American. McGregor is taller, bigger, and significantly has a longer reach than Mayweather. In nearly all of his fights Mayweather has had a reach advantage over his opponent. In a sport of inches and fine margins, this subtle physical advantage could be crucial for McGregor.
With age comes diminished punching power and an increasingly deteriorated chin
The ‘Notorious’ McGregor also has devastating punching power. Incredibly, of his 21 professional wins, 18 were via knockout. By contrast, Mayweather has only won via KO twice in his last 14 fights, with the rest going to a decision. It is also important to bear in mind that Mayweather is now 40 years old and has been retired for two years. With age comes diminished punching power and an increasingly deteriorated chin. The youthful McGregor, on the other hand, is 28 years of age and very much in the prime of his career. Despite the American’s phenomenal defensive capabilities, if just one of McGregor’s destructive left had shots connects cleanly, Mayweather will be in a world of trouble.
Whilst McGregor’s lack of experience in pure boxing seems like a disadvantage, this could paradoxically give him an edge. McGregor’s unique MMA style will be nothing like anything Mayweather has faced before. The Irishman’s creative striking technique and use of angles has the potential to flummox Floyd if he is complacent. The fact that McGregor is a southpaw (i.e. left handed), yet can easily switch to an orthodox (right handed) stance, adds yet another dimension of uncertainty for Mayweather who has historically struggled against southpaw fighters.
Whilst McGregor’s lack of experience in pure boxing seems like a disadvantage, this could paradoxically give him an edge
Watch any one of McGregor’s pre-fight press conferences at random on YouTube, and you will witness mental warfare at its absolute finest. The Dubliner shines with a microphone in his hand. In the numerous media events in the lead up to the bout, McGregor will undoubtedly have the edge.
But it’s not just trash talk where McGregor’s confidence will come into play. He has unparalleled levels of self-belief, and has attributed a great deal of his success to power of visualisation and the “Law of Attraction” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV85ltK5zj0 – hyperlink?].
And whilst it seems like everyone is laughing at the prospect of McGregor defeating the legendary Mayweather, this has not knocked the Irishman’s confidence one bit. In fact, he seems more motivated than ever: ‘I’ve been listening to the sound of laughter my whole career’ said the Irishman with a wry smile, ‘the sound of laughter, and the sound of doubt, motivates me’. In a later interview McGregor’s confidence in his own ability shines through again: ‘Trust me’ he stated with 100% conviction, ‘I’m going to stop Floyd and you’re all going to eat your words. The whole world is going to eat their words’.
McGregor is special. He is one of those athletes, one of those people, that comes around once in a lifetime
Conor McGregor is a phenomenal athlete and a truly unique human being. If it was any other MMA fighter stepping into a boxing ring with one of the world’s best, you would not give them even the slightest chance. But McGregor is special. He is one of those athletes, one of those people, that comes around once in a lifetime. Regardless of the outcome against Mayweather, he will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time. If he wins – undoubtedly the greatest. Can he do it? Stranger things have happened…