FOR the first time in his combat sports career, Conor McGregor will forgo the rules of mixed martial arts, strap on a pair of eight-ounce gloves and step into the ring for a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather this Sunday (AEST).
McGregor started his fighting career in a boxing gym in Ireland when he was just 10-years old, but his attention eventually turned to MMA, where he’s now become the biggest superstar as well as the first ever simultaneous two division champion in UFC history. In MMA, there’s little doubt that McGregor is one of the best in the sport, but it’s not boxing.
Still, McGregor will walk into the ring against Mayweather with better odds on his side than numerous boxers who faced the 49-0 former champion during his prolific career. Based on the current odds in Las Vegas, McGregor has a better shot at beating Mayweather with no boxing experience on his side than Andre Berto, Marcos Maidana, and Miguel Cotto had going into the same match-up.
Despite McGregor’s underdog status being so small going into his bout with Mayweather, many top boxers from around the sport believe this fight is not only lopsided but will ultimately play out like a rank amateur going up against a seasoned pro.
“No, not a chance. He don’t have a chance in hell,” former WBA champion Austin Trout told FOX Sports Australia.
“He don’t have a chance. He’s going to get eaten up. Unless there’s some foul play going on where they made an agreement they want to make a rematch, but no he does not have a chance.”
Trout has an interesting take on the fight, not only because he competes in the same division as Mayweather, but also because he’s spent time training with several mixed martial artists including former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit at his home camp in New Mexico. Working with MMA fighters has given Trout plenty of reason to believe that Mayweather will not only win the fight, but he can essentially pick his shots before finishing McGregor inside the distance.
“They leave themselves open for punches,” Trout stated. “Not to generalise the whole group as one, but I’ve tended to notice MMA fighters aren’t as accustomed to getting punched in the face as boxers have. Not saying every punch is going to knock them out, but they react differently to punches. It’s not grouping all of them but just the ones I’ve fought and seen.
“I see Floyd putting him away. I see him picking him apart and putting him away. I think it goes deeper than five or six rounds. I say mid to late rounds like seven or eight.”
Undefeated WBC champion Heather Hardy says she wasn’t even going to watch the fight because she didn’t see any way that McGregor would actually challenge Mayweather after touching gloves in the centre of the ring. Eventually, Hardy was sold on witnessing the fight after the world tour that saw McGregor and Mayweather chew each other up on the microphone for four straight days in four different cities across the globe.
That being said, Hardy still doesn’t think the fight will play out any differently than she first imagined months ago and it all comes down to Mayweather’s boxing experience going up against a novice in McGregor.
“With respect to what I know about boxing and see that Floyd knows about boxing with respect to all the guys that Floyd has beat, McGregor just doesn’t know enough. Is he tough? Is he strong? Mayweather just knows too much stuff,” Hardy explained.
“It’s because boxing is a science and it’s a science that Floyd Mayweather has down so good that 49 men have tried to beat him and couldn’t do it. ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was frustrated in there and he’s probably one of the best boxers out right now. I just don’t see [McGregor] having enough knowledge in the science of boxing to beat him.”
Considering Mayweather’s credentials it’s hard to argue against the logic that he’ll move his record to a perfect 50-0 after facing McGregor. Outsiders such as Trout and Hardy have seen Mayweather’s boxing mastery on display for several years but past opponents might even have a stronger opinion on this fight.
While Mayweather tiptoed through the majority of the latter half of his career without ever really being touched, former champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley is one of the few fighters who can tout landing a really solid punch on the person most experts consider the greatest defensive boxer in the history of the sport.
Mosley hurt Mayweather with a staggering right hand early in their fight but he was unable to capitalise on that moment and ended up losing a one-sided decision. McGregor might have some of the biggest punching power Mayweather has faced since that time, but Mosley just doesn’t see a way the Irishman actually connects before he gets hurt and finished in the fight.
“I see Mayweather having a great time in there, smiling and laughing while McGregor is trying to hit him and find him,” Mosley said. “I see McGregor noticing how hard Mayweather hits. When he gets hit by Mayweather, he’s going to be like ‘this is different from UFC punches.’
“I think Floyd, if he wants to, can knock him out by the fourth or fifth round. I think that he’ll give the fans a show.”
One person from the boxing community who won’t even dignify the fight with a breakdown is undefeated middleweight knockout artist Gennady Golovkin, who will face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez three weeks after Mayweather battles McGregor.
Golovkin was one of the last fighters in line to potentially face Mayweather before he retired two years ago, but he just isn’t interested in watching him face off with a UFC champion who he believes has no business in boxing.
“This is not a fight. I have a fight with Canelo and Floyd with Conor this is not a fight,” Golovkin said. “It’s a show. Like a comedy show, like a business show, but this is not a fight. It’s just an event. This is different. If you want to watch a show, please watch the McGregor fight. If you want to watch a true fight, a boxing fight, a historical fight, watch on September 16.”
Of course Golovkin is entitled to his opinion but judging from early estimates a lot of people are interested in watching the fight unfold as Mayweather puts his perfect record on the line against McGregor, who will attempt to shock the world once again as he makes his professional boxing debut.