August 27, 2017
LAS VEGAS — Something was different this time. Floyd Mayweather broke his training camp to go on the late-night talk show circuit 10 days prior to what was supposed to be a historic confrontation against mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor, something he considered taboo in the past.
He smiled more. There was a calm about him – another rarity.
Maybe it was turning 40 in February that brought this on, or that he felt extremely confident McGregor posed no real threat to him. Whatever it was, the future hall of famer was able to truly enjoy his last time in the ring — the end a journey that's endured for over 30 years.
Mayweather will likely once again break his previous pay-pay-view record (4.6 million), achieved in his fight against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.
And while we saw a different Floyd Mayweather in the days leading up to the fight, that wasn't the case once he stepped into the ring.
There was intrigue for the initial three rounds — by design, when Mayweather hardly threw a punch. But when he figured McGregor out, which wasn’t hard, his dominance surfaced, resulting in a 10th-round TKO at 1:05 before 14,623 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The greatest sporting event in the history of mankind — as it was hyped by those not listening or paying attention — was exactly what many anticipated it would be: a Mayweather victory, in typical Mayweather fashion.
“I told you that this fight wouldn’t go the distance,” said Mayweather, who admitted he hadn’t sparred for the last month before the fight to save his hands. “You won’t see me in the ring no more. I’ve had it. I’m moving on. I’ve been doing this for 21 years. I told you that I would come straight ahead, and I knew that I would take some shots when you come straight ahead.
“Conor was solid. I’ve been off a couple of years. I’m older now. I’m not the same Floyd Mayweather I was 10 years ago. I’m not the same Floyd Mayweather I was two years ago. There was a lot of rabbit punching, and I let the referee do his job. I’m still a thinker. He didn’t have the kind of power where I couldn’t come forward.”
There were some who thought McGregor had a chance, since by fight time the odds in most Las Vegas books were down to 5.5-to-1 in favor of Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs), who was a 12-to-1 favorite when the fight was announced in June.
To his credit, McGregor, who was making his pro boxing debut, did far better than anyone anticipated.
McGregor came out stronger, but his punches were wide and Mayweather didn’t do anything, not even throwing a punch. The beginning of the second began the same way, with McGregor carrying the action and nailing Money with a few shots from awkward angles. One thing was obvious when the two stood next to each other, McGregor looked far bigger than Mayweather.
And because of Mayweather’s little activity rate, McGregor won the second round, too.
Mayweather threw his first real punch in the first minute of the third round — a straight right to McGregor’s chest that had no leverage. McGregor was beating Mayweather at his own game, keeping his opponent on the outside with a flabby, though effective jab. With less than 25 seconds left in the third round, some of McGregor’s old MMA tendencies surfaced, like throwing a hammer punch on top of Mayweather’s head.
In the fourth, McGregor nailed Mayweather with a strong left, but two things happened in this turning-point round: McGregor lost some steam on his punches, and Mayweather began narrowing in on his punching range and closed the distance.
One thing I know I can do, I can fight. I kept pushing him, and pushing him, and pushing him back. I knew I could break him. Weight doesn’t win fight, fighting wins fights.
It was also the first round Mayweather won.
From then on, it was McGregor holding on for dear life. He had hardly anything left, fighting on instinct and heart. McGregor’s mouth was open, gulping for air; he had trouble holding his arms up and began holding more. Meanwhile, Mayweather began opening up.
By the end of the seventh round, curiosity was gone. It started to look like a typical Mayweather fight.
“I found a way to trap him and break him down,” Mayweather said. “I wanted to close the gap. He threw punches from different angles. I wanted to stick with the game plan. That 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. I could have easily counter-punched Conor all night — I wanted to go out with a bang.
“One thing I know I can do, I can fight. I kept pushing him, and pushing him, and pushing him back. I knew I could break him. Weight doesn’t win fight, fighting wins fights.”
In the eighth, it was target practice for Mayweather. McGregor was struggling to keep Mayweather away and began holding more – the sway of fight was clearly in Mayweather’s favor as McGregor could barely stand after taking a couple of flush shots, that caused to retreat.
Then it became a matter of time.
Mayweather stalked McGregor, landing flush shots again, and a pair of straight rights to McGregor’s head had him reeling backwards. That’s when Mayweather stepped up the intensity and referee Robert Byrd did the right thing when he waved it over at 1:05 of the 10th.
“He's composed. He's not that fast, he's not that powerful, but, boy, is he composed in there,” McGregor said. “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. I have to give it to him, that's what 50 pro fights will do for you.
“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.”
In the end, Mayweather landed 170 of 320 total punches (53%) to McGregor’s 111-430 (26%). The real difference came in the power shots, where Mayweather landed 154 of 261 (58%), while McGregor connected on 84 of 332 (25%).
Judges Burt A. Clements and Guido Cavalleri gave McGregor the first round — and that was it. Dave Moretti gave McGregor the first three rounds, which was more realistic, and the rest to Mayweather.
“It was a completely different fight than I expected,” UFC president Dana White said. “When you get into professional boxing, you start four rounds, you fight six rounds. Conor went 10 rounds tonight with arguably the best to ever do it. I’m very proud of Conor. I would rather Conor not [box] again. I think he did great tonight. I don’t think there is anything else to prove. This was a rare event. I’m thinking of not doing this again.”
On the undercard, Philadelphia’s Steve “USS” Cunningham (29-9-1, 13 KOs) took on undefeated cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti (15-0, 12 KOs) in a 10-round fight. Cunningham was supposed the “name” Tabiti, who is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, adds to his resume. But it was Cunningham, the former two-time IBF cruiserweight champion, who dominated the first six rounds.
The 41-year-old Cunningham, at 6-foot-3, seemed to tower over the 6-1 Tabiti. Cunningham used his reach superiority and experience to hold the middle of the ring and keep Tabiti on the outside, forcing the younger fighter to lunge and be cautious.
Somehow, judges Robert Hoyle, Tim Cheatham and Eric Cheek saw something different. The fight had its moments, and Tabiti did land in flurries at times, so the 97-93 scores from Hoyle and Cheatham in favor of Tabiti could be understandable. But what Cheek saw was a little mind-boggling, scoring it a complete shutout for Tabiti, 100-90.
Afterward, Cunningham just grabbed his head and shook it, as Naazim Richardson, Cunningham’s trainer, just threw up his hands after the final scores were read.
“I don't think Andrew Tabiti is a championship level fighter. I thought I won the fight. I didn't think I saw anything special from him,” said Cunningham, who was outlanded by Tabiti in total punches, 112-88. “He was quick and sharp, so I didn't want to just lunge in and make a mistake. I took my time but when I saw that he wasn't trying to fight, I had to push it a little more.
“I was in there trying to fight. I thought we should have gone in there and worked for our money. He didn't want to give the fans the show they deserved. That’s all he did was run, and it’s frustrating. I don’t know what I have to do. I even told the ref and judges during the fight that all he was doing was running from me.”