Date: August 26th 2017
Location: Paradise, Nevada. US
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
Two superstars and two sports collide for one of the biggest fights combat sport has ever seen. One of the best boxers of all time welcomes the biggest star in MMA onto his playground in a boxing fight slated to gross more revenue and pay-per-view (PPV) buys than any fight that has ever taken place.
This is supposed to be an utter mismatch. Mayweather - undefeated, the best defensive boxer of all time, fighting somebody who does not have a single professional boxing match to his name. Yet this is the most anticipated fight in recent history. Many people – mainly boxing purists – have been bashing this idea, saying it is bad for the sport and represents nothing more than a circus. It may well be a circus, but everyone and their dog will be tuning in.
This is all down to the audacious vision and belief of the Irishman.
In just four years, McGregor has gone from fighting for local promotions with tiny crowds to headlining the biggest events, generating more revenue and PPV buys than any fighter in the history of MMA. He has completely captivated the sporting world with his brash, cocky and arrogant exterior which masks a depth that is difficult not to respect.
Just like his new nemesis Mayweather, his immense talent is showcased and earned through meticulous preparation and gruelling training – the foundation of his unshakeable belief; a belief that is backed up by mesmerising performances, winning over armies of fans and giving him the impetus to call out an unbeaten champion in a different sport.
The A side? Mayweather and McGregor square off for the first time
The UFC lightweight champion really he has nothing to lose and everything to gain so Mayweather deserves a lot of credit for accepting this fight.
The American is expected to fully dominate and have his way against the boxing debutant but he is coming out of retirement at the age of 40 against a younger, more powerful fighter with an impermeable confidence and style he has never come across before.
Although he competes in a different sport, McGregor is a champion who cannot be taken lightly. The sport of boxing is resting on Mayweather’s shoulders and its credibility can be shattered with one mistake and one punch so he may be earning an extortionate amount of money for an ‘easy fight’, but there is so much more at stake.
So just how likely is an upset? Let’s take a look at the fight facts and see how they match up:
This is an ideal weight for McGregor. His last fight was at 155 lbs in the UFC where he defeated Eddie Alvarez to capture the lightweight title. He successfully fought most his early career at 145 lbs (featherweight) but this was his limit. Although he never missed weight, he looked unhealthily thin at the weigh-ins and now as time goes on, that weight cut would be very unhealthy for his body. McGregor also fought at 170 lbs (welterweight) but struggled against a larger opponent, and not having to cut any weight for the fight compromised his cardio.
McGregor weight fluctuation: featherweight - 145 lbs (left) lightweight - 155 lbs (middle) welterweight - 170lbs (right)
This is the heaviest weight Mayweather has fought at. As you get older weight cutting becomes more challenging so losing any more weight would really deplete him at this stage of his career. So the multiple world champion at 154 lbs will be comfortable at this weight and will no doubt go into this fight with more than enough endurance.
McGregor is the larger fighter, although it should be pointed out that they have been fighting at similar weights. Mayweather started his career at 135 lbs but in the second half of his career he has fought at super welterweight/welterweight (147 -154 lbs). The graph below illustrates the similar weights they have fought at throughout their careers, along with a table of weight classes in both disciplines to provide further clarity:
This will be the biggest change for McGregor, who is used to fighting with 4oz fingerless gloves for the UFC. Naturally, Mayweather is extremely comfortable wearing the bigger gloves, especially with slightly more weight to protect his hands which have been under the knife after numerous injuries.
A huge factor to the change of gloves for McGregor is that boxers employ them as excellent weapons for defence. When held high they can cover the whole head, and Mayweather is a master in this utilisation. The size of them also negates a significant amount of power in comparison to the tiny 4oz gloves, so more energy is required to produce similar damage.
Elusive – Mayweather utilising the shoulder roll and glove to defend a punch
This is also a glaring difference. McGregor is in his physical prime and Mayweather is at the end of his career, but he is not your average 40-year-old and will be in tremendous shape as always. He has also been fighting since McGregor was just nine years old, highlighting the vast advantage he has in experience.
Many believe McGregor’s reach advantage will be key to any possible success. Although it is only two inches, it is how he uses those two inches. He has an unbelievable understanding and feel of what range his opponents can strike from and the distance he can launch a counter strike, combining fluid movement and immaculate timing to avoid any damage and inflict his own.
He leads with a long right hand setting up his power left, punching at the end of his range. This may keep Mayweather at distance but making contact with him is a different matter. The American’s slipping, bobbing, weaving and rolling is simply majestic and is at a level that will be hard for McGregor to emulate in training.
It is well documented that Mayweather has struggled the most against southpaw opponents, but struggle does not mean he has lost. It is the stance combined with the foreign style and unpredictability of McGregor that will cause any trouble.
These stats are mainly to give an idea of the style of fighter. McGregor’s strengths lie in his boxing, possessing potent power in his hands with a piston of a left and clearly hunts an early finish with success. On the other hand, Mayweather is comfortable enduring and tactically picking his opponents apart for 12 rounds. Interestingly, he hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2011, or 2007 if you include opponents who hadn’t stopped fighting.
Let’s investigate their fighting statistics further:
Taking into account the differences in Boxing and MMA, the attempted strikes thrown and received can be taken with a pinch of salt, but interestingly their averages are very similar barring their defence.
The eye-opening statistic here however is their fight time. Mayweather has registered a colossal amount of miles on the clock without taking much damage, which puts him above the best boxers in the world let alone someone making their debut. The average fight time is also a huge area of concern for McGregor fans. He trains to fight five, five minute rounds so 12, three minute rounds will be a significant difference. He will obviously be training hard, improving his cardio to last the 12 rounds but will require a drastically different approach which he will be addressing for the first time.
So the stats and facts of this match-up compound the intrigue and mystery of this fight, but adding the absurd sums of money associated and the characters involved makes this spectacle utterly unmissable.
So what kind of numbers and money are we talking?
This is a great representation of the popularity of not only Mayweather and McGregor but also Boxing and MMA, as these two icons spearhead the attraction of their sports.
Boxing has been around for centuries whereas MMA has only really become legitimized in the last 20 years. yet the gap in PPV buys has closed significantly between the two. This is a clear indicator that the growth of MMA has sky rocketed in the last decade, capitalising on the lack of evolution of boxing.
We have learnt that McGregor really has no right to win and many feel he has no right to even step in the ring with Mayweather. The best boxers in the world have struggled to land a punch on the American so how can we expect a Mixed Martial Artist so have any success? To cross codes and topple an unbeaten, multiple-time world champion would be the biggest upset in sporting history and would potentially be detrimental to the sport. This is not just Mayweather vs McGregor, this is MMA vs Boxing.
McGregor has headlined the biggest UFC cards but has never been under the bright lights of Boxing. He has never strapped on the gloves and boots in front of the huge glittering crowds with gawking Hollywood stars sitting front row but Mayweather has... for 20 years.
You can’t prepare for that feeling but we have also learnt not to doubt the small town boy from Crumlin. His rise has been nothing short of meteoric - he was still picking up welfare checks when Mayweather was 44-0 but is now stealing the spotlight from him on world press tours.
So who knows what will happen on August 26th, but let’s just hope the fans leave as satisfied as both fighters’ bank balances.
The showman – McGregor in his element during a press tour