A boxing match is set between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. Both fighters have signed on the dotted line to meet for a bout at 154 pounds at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 26.
Mayweather, 40, is an undefeated boxer with a 49-0 record.
McGregor, 28, competed in amateur youth boxing in Ireland before turning his attention to mixed martial arts. He’s 21-3 as a professional fighter with a 9-1 record in the UFC.
No matter how you feel about McGregor’s chances, here are two things that are unequivocally true:
- Mayweather is one of, if not the best defensive boxer ever.
- McGregor is an amateur boxer who has never competed in the sport professionally.
That doesn’t mean that Mayweather can’t be hit — though it has felt close to that over the course of his career — and it doesn’t mean McGregor is coming into the fight with an inability to box. But it does mean that the odds should be and will be extremely lopsided in Mayweather’s favor.
So why is this fight even happening?
That’s really the only answer, because any kind of long answer reveals that this is not the best idea for either fighter.
For McGregor, the fight will net him the kind of pay day that the UFC could never offer. Consider that a megafight against Manny Pacquiao in 2015 earned Mayweather about $230 million, while McGregor’s last two fights reportedly earned him about $27 million.
McGregor has shattered earning records in MMA, but a bout with Mayweather will be in a stratosphere of money all its own.
And while Mayweather has had lucrative fights in the past, it would take a special kind of matchup to draw the eyeballs that his fight with Pacquiao did. The $32 million purse he received for his final fight against Andre Berto was far from a laughable amount, but a fraction of what he earned in the fight prior.
“Who else can he fight?” McGregor said in an interview with ESPN in May 2016. “He fights someone else in the boxing realm and all of a sudden the pay goes from $100 million to $15 million. So he needs me.”
McGregor gives Mayweather the draw for another huge check.
Does McGregor have any chance?
Well … maybe. He will almost definitely lose and probably won’t even touch Mayweather, but … maybe.
McGregor is bigger, more than a decade younger, not coming off of a two-year layoff, and has a left hand that has been too much for several of the UFC’s best fighters to handle. His greatest asset in the octagon has been his skills as a striker, managing distance like a wizard, and generally doing his best to avoid allowing fights to go to the mat. His only three losses in MMA have all come via submission.
His boxing skills earned him the UFC lightweight title in November when he dismantled Eddie Alvarez, knocking the then-champion down five times in a fight that lasted only eight minutes.
While that would seemingly translate to an intriguing test for Mayweather, it really shouldn’t. Distance management is much different in boxing — a sport where the removal of the threats of kicks and wrestling pushes fighters much closer together than in MMA.
And although McGregor’s left hand took out the UFC’s Alvarez, Jose Aldo, and Chad Mendes, among others, it was covered by the four-ounce gloves of the UFC. That brings with it a much different amount of power than the 10-ounce gloves he’ll wear in August, and the gloves allow much more protection and defense for Mayweather than McGregor’s opponents had in MMA.
Mayweather has faced big, strong, power punchers in the past and breezed through them. Canelo Alvarez — currently sitting atop the top pound-for-pound boxing rankings — is 49-1-1 with 34 wins by knockout. His only career loss was a decision loss to Mayweather in 2013, in which Alvarez landed about half as many punches despite throwing more than Mayweather.
Even McGregor has previously admitted that Mayweather looks unbeatable:
The gigantic odds in Mayweather’s favor are justified, but McGregor insists that he believes he can win. UFC president Dana White says that McGregor is “absolutely 100 percent positive” that he comes away with the victory.
At this time only three years ago, he was an unranked fighter in the UFC, recovering from an ACL tear after starting with a 2-0 record in the organization. He has since made a career out of overcoming doubts.
McGregor defeated the wrestler who was supposed to be his kryptonite, took 13 seconds to knock out the featherweight champion who hadn’t lost in 10 years, avenged his first and only UFC loss despite a size disadvantage, and then became the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously.
He shouldn’t have any chance against Mayweather in August. It should be an embarrassing night for McGregor. I’ll tune in just in case it isn’t.