IN the end it all went smoothly. Floyd Mayweather outclassed an exceptionally brave Conor McGregor while volleying him to defeat in round 10, the fans inside the T-Mobile Arena enjoyed it and boxing survived. But, and there was always going to be a ‘but’ when Mayweather went 50-0 against a debutant, this never felt or looked like a real fight. For his part, McGregor gave this adventure absolutely everything he had and he deserves all the credit in the world for that. From knuckling down in the gym and learning a new discipline to promoting the event to within an inch of its life, McGregor became the most talked about underdog in sporting history. And it can be said he surpassed all educated expectation by not only surviving for as long as he did, but also for bringing the crowd to their feet by clumping his opponent on several occasions. However, it’s important to retain perspective when examining his performance and that of his rival.
It was clear from the opening bell as the 29-year-old trotted over to Mayweather square on, chin high, and swiped his left hand over, that he was so many levels below his opponent it was almost ridiculous. What wasn’t immediately obvious, though, was why the American superstar didn’t make him pay for such carelessness straight away. Certainly the Irishman’s eccentric style gave the favourite something to think about, but if Mayweather had any respect at all for his opponent, it would have been a completely different contest. Yes, the punch stats – the holy grail for certain enthusiasts – will tell you that McGregor landed more punches on Mayweather than Manny Pacquiao managed in May 2015, and almost as many in nine-and-a-bit rounds as Canelo Alvarez achieved in 12 four years ago. Bottom line, had Mayweather approached either of those two bouts like he did this one – contemptuous yet completely carefree – he would have lost. But against a novice like McGregor, Mayweather knew there was absolutely no way he could lose.
While it would be wrong to say he wanted to get hit, it’s fair to say avoiding punches was not his priority. After feeling McGregor’s power from a meaty uppercut in the opening round, he continued to stray into the target zone completely content he would not encounter danger. Frequently smiling and winking at ringsiders, he did exactly as he pleased.