Conor McGregor put forth a brave effort at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, but in the end that wasn’t enough to see him through twelve rounds with boxing’s former pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The UFC lightweight champion got off to a solid start in his maiden professional boxing outing, doing enough work to claim the first couple of rounds on the cards of most observers. However, there was a sense that Mayweather was simply having a look at the Irishman, in order to get a feel for his slightly unorthodox movements. The third was a close round too, but McGregor looked to be breathing primarily through his mouth by the stanza’s end. A grinning Mayweather began to find his range in the session that followed.
In the fifth, Mayweather started slowly but came on and shook McGregor with a left hook in the latter stages. He did so again in the seventh, this time with a punishing series of right hands. By this stage, the pop in McGregor’s punches had faded and he was reduced to landing pitter-patter shots to Mayweather’s head and body, but the Irishman kept fighting despite obvious fatigue.
McGregor showed some signs of life again in the eighth but a rough ninth round followed. The SBG Ireland representative really had to gut out the three-minute period as he sucked wind and ate heavy leather from an increasingly aggressive Mayweather. ‘The Notorious’ heard the bell to end the round but he was only prolonging the inevitable.
As he went out for the tenth, McGregor was instructed to take the round off by striking coach Owen Roddy, but with Mayweather smelling blood, that wasn’t possible. Exhausted, McGregor was battered from pillar to post by Mayweather until referee Robert Byrd stepped in at the perfect time to call a halt to proceedings.
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In his post-fight interview, McGregor disagreed with the stoppage, albeit not vociferously.
“I thought it was close though and I thought it was a bit of an early stoppage. I was just a little fatigued. He was just a lot more composed with his shots,” he said.
“I’ve been strangled on live TV and came back. When you’re in here in the squared circle, everything is different. Let the man put me down, that’s fatigue, that’s not damage. Where was the final two rounds? Let me walk back to my corner and compose myself.”
Musing in the immediate aftermath, Mayweather revealed that his gameplan was to draw power shots from McGregor early and tire him out before applying the finishing touches.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he’d be. He’s a tough competitor, but I was the better man tonight,” said Mayweather.
“Our game plan was to take our time, go to him, let him shoot his shots early and then take him out down the stretch. We know in MMA he fights for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, he started to slow down. I guaranteed to everybody that this wouldn’t go the distance.”
In the end, it was a perfect plan from Mayweather’s team and their fighter executed it to perfection. Still, McGregor’s grit in the face of a challenge that seemed impossible and proved darn close to it will have earned him plaudits from both the boxing and MMA communities.
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