Floyd Mayweather Jnr figured out a 50th opponent on Saturday night, letting Conor McGregor have the early rounds before stalking him late and leaving the mixed-martial arts (MMA) sportsman defenceless and exhausted on the ropes in the 10th round.
It was a smashing end to a career that earned Mayweather more money than any fighter before him — including an estimated $200 million for his last bout.
Mayweather battered McGregor around the ring in later rounds, finally stopping him at 1:05 of the 10th with a flurry of punches that forced referee Robert Byrd to stop the fight.
Before a pro-McGregor crowd that roared every time the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter landed a punch, Mayweather methodically broke him down after a slow start to score his first real stoppage in nearly a decade. He did it in what he said would be his final fight, against a man who’d never been in a professional boxing match before.
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McGregor boxed surprisingly well, but after landing some punches in the early rounds, his blows seemed to lose steam. Mayweather went on the pursuit. McGregor back-pedalled most of the way, stopping only to throw an occasional flurry as Mayweather wore him down.
Though Byrd cautioned the Irish contender for hitting behind the head on two occasions, there were no real fouls in the fight, and McGregor did not revert to any MMA tactics
McGregor had vowed to knock Mayweather out within two rounds, and he won the early rounds with movement and punches to the head. But the tide turned in the fourth round as the American seemed to figure out what he had to do and began aggressively stalking McGregor.
‘I’m looking forward to going into the Hall of Fame’
Mayweather was credited with landing more than half his punches, as he solved McGregor’s defence after a few rounds. Ringside stats showed him landing 170 of 320 punches to McGregor’s 111 of 430.
In a fight so anticipated that it cost $10 000 for ringside seats, McGregor turned in a respectable performance for a first fight. He switched from southpaw to conventional at times and used his jab well, but Mayweather’s experience and ring savvy paid off as he executed his plan to perfection.
“Our game plan was to take our time, go to him and take him out in the end,” Mayweather said. “I guaranteed everybody this fight wouldn’t go the distance.
McGregor was trailing on all three ringside scorecards through the ninth round, with scores of 89-81, 89-81 and 87-83 (87-84, according to the Associated Press).
“I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see,” Mayweather said. “I owed them for the (Manny) Pacquiao fight.”
Mayweather was widely criticised for not going after Pacquiao in their fight, but he didn’t make the same mistake this time. In a match that could make him $200 million, he seemed to stagger McGregor with a series of punches in the ninth round, landing at will.
The end was near as the two fighters came out for the 10th round. Mayweather landed a punch that had McGregor reeling across the ring, then landed a combination that left him defenceless as Byrd moved in to stop the bout. McGregor didn’t complain when the fight was stopped and went over and hugged Mayweather.
“I was a little fatigued,” McGregor said. “He was composed in there; that’s what 50 pro fights can give you.”
He seemed content with the fact that he’d given a good performance despite losing.
“I thought it was close though, and I thought it was a bit of an early stoppage. I was just a little fatigued.”
McGregor’s challenge to Mayweather was fuelled by social media and turned into a spectacle as the two fighters promoted the bout. It was estimated that the fight would earn the Irishman about $100 million, and gave him a name and brand outside of the UFC.
He also earned respect from a fighter who’s been in the ring his entire life.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he’d be,” Mayweather said. “He’s a tough competitor, but I was the better man tonight.”
After all the talk and hype, the fight unfolded like those in the know imagined it would. Mayweather, a 5-1 favourite, took a few rounds to establish his dominance but once he had, it was a one-sided fight.
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Mayweather ran his record to 50-0, surpassing Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record and giving himself a great parting gift. He reiterated that he wouldn’t fight again.
“This is my last fight for sure. 50-0 sounds good. I’m looking forward to going into the Hall of Fame,” Mayweather said. “I picked the best dance partner to do it with.
Irish fans arrived by the thousands in the days before the fight, filling the arena for the weigh-in and boisterously cheering for their man. They had even spray-painted an Irish flag and “49-1” on a billboard on Interstate 15 that promoted Mayweather’s businesses.
The capacity crowd of 14 623 cheered McGregor on, but they quieted as the fight progressed and Mayweather established his dominance.
Source: African News Agency