I've decided to break down this weekends' mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, where boxing meets mixed martial arts. Before I begin, it's important to note that this will be McGregor's first ever boxing match, whereas Mayweather is looking to win his 50th professional fight and call it a career at 50-0.
McGregor is 29 and Mayweather is 40. Will this turn out to be a factor? I don't believe so. Mayweather looks to be in fantastic shape and hasn't taken much punishment in his career. He doesn't look 40 in any shape or form. If we make a judgment based on previous fights, Mayweather has never looked spent at the end of a 12 rounder. Whatever he's doing to prepare, it works. If anyone has a tendency to gas, it's McGregor. Granted, it's a different sport, but he really was blowing hard in his 2 fights with Nate Diaz. Luckily for him he found a second wind in the 4th round of their rematch, otherwise he looked ready to go again. His tap out in the first fight had a lot to do with fatigue I believe.
McGregor was predicting a ko within 4 rounds initially. He's since cut it to 2 rounds, maybe even 1. He better hope he's right, otherwise he's in a world of hurt for the remainder of the fight. I believe his only real hope is to catch Mayweather with something big early and put him away. I don't think it's a likely scenario, but it can't be dismissed out of hand. Many have McGregors' 13 second ko of Jose Aldo in their heads when making a call on this fight. As spectacular as the ko was, Aldo lunged in and allowed McGregor to counter punch him. Mayweather won't make a similar mistake, being a counter puncher himself. If McGregor plays the counter punch game with one of the best counter punchers in boxing history, he will lose. If he commits to wreckless assaults in an attempt to overwhelm Mayweather, he will be picked off and lose. Having watched his striking against Diaz I realised that he fights with his hands down. He can do this because his hand speed and reflexes are so much greater than that of his opponents in the octagon. In the ring, he won't have that advantage. He's going to have to keep his hands up. If you've spent an entire career with your hands in a certain position, you will revert to that style at some point in the fight.
I don't think McGregor likes body shots too much. I mean who does, right? He won't have experienced anything similar, even in the UFC. Mayweather is exceptional at shots to the belly and solar plexus. It takes the wind out of opponents. I've read that he's been doing a lot of body shots in his sparring. If McGregor becomes a stationary target this fight is over as a contest.
A lot has been made of the gloves weighing 8 ounces instead of the usual 10. Who does this favour? Does it favour any fighter? It may surprise you to hear that I believe it favours Mayweather more than McGregor. I think Shane Mosely explained it very well recently on ESPN. He said that the introduction of gloves in combat sports was actually designed to protect the hands of a fighter and not the face of their opponent. Basically, it won't drastically increase the likelihood of a ko, but it will allow both fighters to punch quicker. Remember, it's the shots that you don't see that do the most damage.
I understand that McGregor thinks he will put the older man under intense pressure, landing shots on his 40 year body and head. If it were that easy, Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao or Andre Berto, 3 world class professional boxers would have done it. Instead, they were left to swing and miss for most of their bouts. Unless the 2 years off since his fight with Berto has changed him from a great fighter to a shot fighter, McGregor will do well to land many shots at all.
In the end, I see Mayweather landing shots at will as the fight wears on. Once he sees McGregor beginning to fatigue or his spirit starting to sag, he'll put it on him. It's hard to see McGregor being knocked unconscious, but I can easily see a mercy stoppage from the referee at any time from around 6 rounds onwards.
WINNER - Floyd Mayweather Jr.