So I wrote some months back that the much ballyhooed fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor has no chance of materializing. In case you missed the news, I’m one step closer to eating my words. The fight is officially on and it’s taking place on August 26 in Las Vegas.
Barring either party pulling out due to injury or some other mishap, we’ll all be tuning in (yes, even me) for the big fight in less than two months’ time. In one corner, you’ve got arguably the best boxer of his generation coming out of retirement for one last big payday. In the other, you’ve got a young MMA champion making his first foray into professional boxing.
Both guys are renowned for their ability to talk a fight up to insane dollar figures, because after all, this is essentially a big crash grab. But build-up aside, the fight does present some interesting questions that will hopefully be answered when it’s all said and done.
What does McGregor bring to the table?
Youth, size, reach, and an unorthodox style. McGregor is the younger and naturally bigger fighter, and he brings a southpaw style of striking that blends other martial arts as well as boxing. In theory, these could all present a new puzzle for Mayweather to solve. Then again, we’re talking about a first-timer jumping into the ring against an undefeated champion. Even Rocky had a solid pro record before he fought Apollo. Besides, we don’t know how effective McGregor’s pure boxing is without kicks and takedowns in the mix.
How will McGregor deal with the 10oz gloves?
Another factor to consider is how McGregor will deal with the bigger gloves. In MMA, McGregor’s power shines through the open-finger 4oz gloves, and his reach allows him to pore through most defenses. Against Mayweather, he won’t just have bigger cushions on his hands, but he’ll also have to deal with the catching and parrying that’s made easier with boxing gloves. Chances are, his power won’t nearly be as devastating as we’ve come to expect.
Will Mayweather be rusty?
Even though Floyd’s last fight was nearly two years ago, it’s doubtful that “Money” will show ring rust. He’s not in his prime anymore, but he still looked sharp against Berto. Plus, he’s adjusted his style to rely less on his speed and reflexes and more on his superb fundamentals and footwork. Even if this fight is a novelty, don’t expect Floyd to show up in anything less than tremendous shape. He might be a trash talker, but he trains his ass off for every single fight to back it up.
How will this fight impact both sports?
Oscar De La Hoya recently said that this fight will kill boxing. I don’t quite see it that way. Yes, it’s a freak show fight that does little for the sport, but it does bring a lot of fresh eyes. Besides, if boxing can survive Tyson’s ear biting, it should be fine after this circus. The bigger issue is how it impacts MMA, particularly the UFC. What kind of message does it send when an organization’s biggest star is participating in another sport while holding a title belt hostage? It’s probably pissing off a lot of other fighters as we speak. MMA has long needed a fighter’s union, and this could very well be the tipping point.
Who’s going to win?
In the fight game, anything can happen, and I might end up eating more crow if I get this prediction wrong. But for opinion’s sake, I see the fight going like this: Floyd spends the first two rounds figuring out McGregor’s awkward style. If he’s paying attention, McGregor will land a telling left hand or two early. Once it reaches round three, however, Floyd will fall into his rhythm and begin outboxing the MMA fighter, living up to the mantra of ‘hit and don’t get hit.’ Multiply that all the way to the 12th round, and Mayweather cruises to a lopsided and largely uneventful decision.
Will there be a rematch under MMA rules?
Forget it. There’s no way that Mayweather risks injury and reputation for a lot less money. It’s doubtful whether we’ll even see McGregor again after this. Kudos to him. He’s a shrewd businessman who willed himself into stardom and has made a lot more money than his peers in just a few years. Once this is over and he collects his millions, it could be farewell for “Notorious” forever.
Will it be the fight of the century?
No. It won’t even be the best fight of late 2017. If you want real boxing, stay tuned for Canelo vs. Golovkin the month after. That’s the real super fight.