LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather promised — guaranteed, even — that his massive-money fight on Saturday with Conor McGregor wouldn’t go the 12-round distance.
Mayweather professed to the non-believers that he would finish the Irishman and UFC star inside the distance and make up for his dull affair with Manny Pacquiao in the last true superfight that captured the imagination.
And he delivered on his word, though it’s no surprise considering the spectacle matched an all-time great boxer, even at 40, against a UFC champion making his pro boxing debut.
McGregor actually performed well over the first three rounds of the junior middleweight bout. The 29-year-old’s awkward southpaw style, superior range/size and use of angles all helped him win the first three rounds one official scorecards, as well as THE RING’s.
But soon, as he always does, Mayweather took over, and after dishing out a severe beating over the last three rounds, he finally finished the show on a barrage of punches at 1:05 in Round 10 when referee Robert Byrd stepped in to halt the contest.
“I guaranteed to everybody that this wouldn’t go the distance. Boxing’s reputation was on the line,” an exuberant and emotional Mayweather expressed. “ … He’s a tough competitor and I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see. I owed the fans for the (Manny) Pacquiao fight. I had to come straight forward and give the fans a show, and that’s what I did.”
Mayweather (50-0, 27 knockouts) marched onward over the final six rounds, a stark departure from his trademark counter-punching style. McGregor even joked that he “turned him into a Mexican tonight! He fought like a Mexican.”
That was much to the delight of fans, who watched Floyd trudge through 12 tedious rounds with Pacquiao in 2015 in an event that shattered revenue records. It’s possible those marks will all fall to Mayweather-McGregor, though, an event that captured the imagination of sports fans everywhere.
“Money” ended a two-year retirement and earned a guaranteed $100 million, though he figures to take home in excess of $250 million when the pay-per-view buys, priced at $99.95, are all calculated. McGregor, the UFC’s welterweight champion, raked in a career-high payday of $30 million guaranteed, but also will make significantly more with PPV upside.
“He’s composed. He’s not that fast, he’s not that powerful, but boy is he composed in there,” said McGregor, who leaned over the blue, top rope, and shrugged his shoulders to his fans moments after the stoppage as if to say “I did my best.”
“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.”
The bout was lambasted from the moment it was even spoken of as a pipe dream in 2016, and the criticism crashed down in waves when it was finalized in mid-June. McGregor was no joke, though.
Conor found success early, but Mayweather says it was part of his strategy, one his father, Floyd Sr., and he concocted at the Las Vegas gym Junior owns.
That was to let Conor dispense with his heavy shots over the first three rounds in hopes he would fatigue (Conor has only been the five-round distance in a UFC fight once) before finishing the 29-year-old down the stretch.
It all led to Mayweather’s first stoppage since 2011, when he sucker-puncher an apologetic Victor Ortiz. It was Mayweather’s first legitimate finish since 2007 against Ricky Hatton.
“I have to give it to him, that’s what 50 pro fights will do for you,” said McGregor, who expected to add more than 15 pounds to his 153-pound frame following Friday’s weigh-in. Mayweather (149.5 pounds) typically fights around the same weight.
“I thought I took the early rounds pretty handily. He had to change his style, and he adjusted. He’s composed. He’s not that fast, he’s not that powerful, but boy is he composed. He was patient with his shots. He’s had a great career.
“What can I say? I had a bit of fun and hopefully entertained the fans.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing