Millions placed their bets, manypicked their sides, and everyone had Aug. 26 marked on their calendars. It was a battle like no other: champions of two vastly different sports battling it out to determine the world’s best fighter. Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., left two years of retirement to defend his belt against young MMA champion Conor McGregor.
Mayweather went into the fight with a 49-0 record, while McGregor entered the fight 22-3. Going into the fight, Mayweather was overwhelmingly the favorite. Although McGregor has a significantly less impressive record in a less renowned sport, it is important to note that his three losses came from submission. McGregor is undefeated standing up, and it is widely acknowledged that boxing is his best skill as a fighter. As the fight drew closer, the media went wild with the idea of this boxing vs. MMA superfight. The fight proved that great MMA fighters can hold their own against great boxers.
In the highly publicized hype prior to the fight, Mayweather acknowledged that his fans were unhappy with his most recent performance against Manny Pacquiao and publicly stated that he would be much more aggressive with McGregor. McGregor, in turn, reassured the media that he would stay true to form and be aggressive from the moment the first round began until the fight had ended.
The match was nothing short of incredible. As promised, McGregor came out of the gate hot. Through the first five rounds, it was clear that McGregor was dominating Mayweather. Then, the tides began to turn in round six. This was the beginning of the end for McGregor. He became visually fatigued and was landing fewer punches, while Mayweather began landing some bigger punches. McGregor showed some resilience in rounds seven and eight, even though it appeared that Mayweather took those rounds. McGregor came out swinging in round nine, landing a hard body shot that hurt Mayweather badly. Despite being hurt, Mayweather bounced back and dominated the round. McGregor was stumbling around, clearly not holding up well against the barrage of punches from Mayweather, who seemed to have recovered from the early body shot by the end of the round. Round 10, the final round, brought the fight to a close when Mayweather landed two hard right hands that put McGregor against the ropes. Mayweather took a step in to land another big punch, when the referee stepped in and ended the fight. Mayweather won by TKO, defending his belt and his sport of boxing. He improved his record to 50-0, passing Rocky Marciano’s record (49-0) and leaving an even greater legacy behind him.
For McGregor, this loss is not as big as it seems. MMA is by no means boxing, and in the eyes of fans around the world, he was supposed to lose this fight. The impact on the integrity of the sport of boxing would have been devastating if a mixed martial artist beat a boxer with one of the best records of all time. And let’s not forget, it would have been disastrous for Las Vegas. The odds were in favor of Mayweather, but so many bets had been placed on McGregor that the money lost by the casinos in Vegas would have been the newest installment of the financial crisis.
Fortunately, no harm to boxing (or monstrous payouts) came to be, as Floyd Mayweather, Jr., solidified his place among the boxing greats.