Mayweather vs. McGregor, Forget the Hype, Who Will Win?
By Tyler Chrestman: The Floyd Mayweather vs. Connor McGregor fight may not wind up being the fight of the year, but it will be the spectacle of the decade. Cross-sport competitions can generate a massive amount of press and intrigue. This fight will not be the exception, but rather the benchmark by which this rule will be measured for all time.
Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor are each the largest PPV draws in the history of their respective sports, and they command loyal and rabid fan bases. This fight will wind up reigning as one of the largest sporting events for some time to come, but all of that is irrelevant to most fight fans. Most fight fans do not care how many people buy the PPV or how rich it is going to make everyone involved, rather most people just like arguing the simple question, “who will win?”
Mayweather is the greatest defensive fighter in history. This statement is open for debate, but even if someone insists that Willie Pep or Pernell Whitaker deserves the title, they would still concede that Mayweather is at least in the top-three. Mayweather turned professional in 1996 and has had a career which should make him a top-ten fighter of all time on any one’s list of greats. Many observers have asked if, at 40 years of age and coming off an almost two-year “retirement,” Mayweather is simply too old to compete with someone only 29 and in the physical prime of their life. A boxer’s life though, is not measured by the calendar, but rather by the number of fights they have been in, and the amount of punches they have taken. Mayweather has had 49 professional fights, but being the greatest (or at least top three) defensive fighter in history, he has never taken much punishment. He has never showed signs of slowing down, or of his reflexes decaying. Mayweather may not be in his physical prime, but in his last fight September of 2015 he showed us that even at 90% he is still the best in the world.
One of the big arguments in McGregor’s favor rides on the fact that he is a southpaw. Mayweather’s Philly-shell, defensive style works best when he is facing an orthodox fighter. His stance allows him to deflect straight right hands with his lead arm and shoulder, effectively rolling punches to the side and setting up big right-hand counters of his own. In boxing circles, Mayweather has a reputation for having a tough time fighting southpaw fighters. This reputation seems to stem from his 2006 fight with Zab Judah. Judah, a southpaw, gave Mayweather serious problems throughout the first half of the bout, keeping up with Mayweather’s speed and landing effective shots (even knocking Mayweather down in the second round.) Mayweather was able to adjust and beat Judah handily during the second half of the bout on his way to a clear decision.
The problem for McGregor is that he is simply not Zab Judah. Judah was a two-time national Golden Glove champion. He had over 100 amateur boxing matches, and had physical athletic gifts, mainly incredible hand speed, which McGregor does not possess. Judah knew how to box and set up combinations with footwork and boxing savvy that came from a life in the boxing gym. McGregor’s southpaw advantage will do little to help him be effective from a distance. He will not be able to fight, on the outside with quick combinations, as Zab Judah did. McGregor will surely take his game plan from Floyd’s fight with Marcos Maidana and try to pressure Floyd to the ropes and land big shots while he presents a stationary target. This negates any left-handed advantage McGregor may possess, and McGregor’s height advantage is meaningless on the inside. Instead, this plays directly into Mayweather’s plan of acting as the matador to the charging bull. He will counter McGregor if he attempts to box from a distance, and land big shots as McGregor tries to bully him to the ropes.
The recent switch from 10-ounce gloves to 8-ounce gloves was made as a “concession” from the Mayweather camp to McGregor, however, this is very misleading. McGregor is used to fighting in 4-ounce gloves in the UFC. In MMA, McGregor has garnered reputation for outstanding punching power. The more padding on the glove, the less damage the punch can do. So, the idea of dropping from a 10 ounce to an 8 ounce is supposed to give McGregor more of a puncher’s chance, but since McGregor was already going to have difficulty landing a clean punch on Mayweather to begin with, it appears this change will favor Mayweather. Mayweather will now be able to land hander shots early in the fight, and he will have the potential to inflict greater damage on McGregor throughout the twelve rounds. McGregor is not used to fighting 36-minute fights and has been knocked out in the past. Mayweather landing crisp, counter shots in smaller gloves could give McGregor more problems than he realizes.
The change to the size of the gloves does nothing to give McGregor an advantage because the commission did not change the rules of boxing. McGregor will still have to fight by the rules of the sport in which Mayweather is the king, and McGregor is incredibly inexperienced. MMA and boxing differ, even in the fundamentals of stand up striking. McGregor’s power will never be a factor in this fight because he will never hit Mayweather cleanly. It just will not happen.
Mayweather possesses almost all the advantages in this fight: speed, experience, and technique being the three most important. McGregor may have a height advantage, he may have more power, but on paper, he will not win this fight. Of course, this is boxing and anything can happen, and there are always the “X” factors to consider. Will this be the fight where Mayweather shows his age? Will Mayweather’s chin be able to hold up if McGregor lands a Hail Mary punch? How much will Robert Byrd, the referee for this bout, allow McGregor to get away with? Will McGregor have the stamina to go 12 hard rounds with Mayweather? Does Mayweather have the power to stop McGregor? These questions need answers, but unfortunately, we can only speculate until they get in the ring. One week ago, my official prediction was Mayweather unanimous decision. As it stands now, with the change in glove size, I think it’s enough for Mayweather to stop him. Mayweather KO 9.