Floyd Mayweather Junior versus Conor McGregor: Everything you need to know, preview and prediction
- Credit: AP
A fight billed as the biggest in combat sports history takes place in Las Vegas this weekend. MARK HEATH previews and predicts the madness that is Floyd Mayweather Junior versus Conor McGregor.
Depending on who you talk to, Floyd Mayweather Jnr boxing Conor McGregor is either the greatest fighting event in history or a complete and utter farce which will only serve to make two filthy rich men filthy richer.
But whatever you think about it, one fact is unavoidable – it is happening. And there's certainly a level of intrigue in seeing what happens when two gents at the top of their respective fight sports clash, under the Marquess of Queensberry rules at light-middleweight, wearing 8oz gloves.
McGregor is a brilliant MMA fighter, a two-weight UFC world champion who has unusual movement, incredible timing, and a lethal southpaw left hand which has slept many of his foes. If this were an MMA fight, he'd eat Mayweather alive in under a minute.
But, and this is important, he has never had a single professional boxing fight. This event pits a 0-0 novice against a 49-0 legend of the squared circle, a man who has taken on a who's who of the noble sport and beaten them all, while barely being touched.
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If this fight were mooted between any other boxers with identical records, there would be an outcry – lamb to the slaughter, disgrace to the sport, you name it. In fact, it would never get sanctioned.
After all, if the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Canelo Alvarez couldn't beat Mayweather – indeed barely lay a glove in anger on him – what chance does McGregor have?
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Let's take a look at the 'Money Fight'...
WHEN AND WHERE
The fight will be in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, USA time. Over here, the main event is due to start at 4am, but with the no doubt extravagant walk-ins and frippery, it might be closer to 5am when the duo actually trade leather.
Sky Sports Box Office will screen the battle live, priced at £19.95.
WHAT'S ON THE LINE?
In terms of titles and belts – a token 'special' strap from the WBC aside – absolutely nothing. This fight is entirely for prestige - can Mayweather reach the fabled 50-0 mark, thus bettering the legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano's record, or can McGregor pull off what would be the biggest upset in boxing history, making Buster Douglas' 42-1 triumph over Mike Tyson back in 1990 look like a mild shock? If Mayweather were to lose, his incredible legacy would be tarnished forever.
Mayweather is the overwhelming favourite, as he should be, at around 1/4 to win and 4/5 to claim a KO. McGregor's odds are incredibly narrow given his lack of experience – 3/1 to win, 4/1 by KO.
HOW DO THEY MATCH UP?
Mayweather, 40, is 49-0 in the boxing ring and has held world titles in five weight divisions, from super featherweight (9st 3lbs) all the way up to light-middleweight (11 stone). He's 5ft 8ins tall and has a reach of 72 inches.
McGregor will be the younger, bigger and probably stronger man on the night. He's 29-years-old, 21-3 in MMA, including those two UFC titles at featherweight (10st 5lbs) and lightweight (11st 1lb), and has fought – and won – as high as welterweight (12 st 1lb). He's an inch taller than Mayweather, and has a two-inch reach advantage.
With McGregor having never boxed professionally, this is hard to predict. However, he will undoubtedly be trying to walk Floyd onto his 'touch of death' left hand. If that lands, he can stop Mayweather, especially wearing 8oz gloves.
I'd imagine he will start like his shorts are on fire, try to back the American up, bully him and throw multiple big shots.
Of course, his problem is that Mayweather is probably the best defensive fighter in history, and has – big right hand from Shane Mosley aside – never really shipped a heavy punch.
He will be looking to make McGregor miss, and then make him pay. Floyd has vowed to march forward and take risks in this fight, but, given that would seem to play into McGregor's trademark step back left hand counter, I doubt we'll see that.
Of course, both men are counter fighters by nature, so we could have a few exchanges where neither fighter wants to lead.
SO WHAT HAPPENS?
The multi-million dollar question. McGregor does have a puncher's chance – he is certainly the heavier hitter in this dust-up – but I honestly can't see him landing much at all. He'll give it everything, but Mayweather will have seen it all before, and it will soon become apparent that he's on another level entirely.
When the fight was announced, I immediately predicted a wide points win for Mayweather. But as it gets closer, I like Floyd by stoppage in the middle to late rounds. He's not knocked anyone out for years, and has brittle hands, but I think the sheer volume of punches he'll land, plus McGregor's fading cardio as he keeps missing big shots, will see the Irishman stopped on his feet somewhere between rounds 7 to 11. Surviving 12 rounds would be a moral victory for him.