LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather withstood an impressive early flurry from Conor McGregor to convincingly win Saturday night’s “Money Fight” at T-Mobile Arena with a 10th round technical knockout.
Mayweather, the former top ranked pound-for-pounder in boxing, experienced a few difficulties in the opening rounds against McGregor, who was moving over from his position as the biggest star in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and making his debut inside the ring.
However, in Round 10, with McGregor having visibly started to tire minutes earlier, Mayweather deliver a telling combination that ended the fight, with referee Robert Byrd stepping in to prevent any further punishment.
“He’s a tough competitor and I think we gave the fans what they deserved to see," Mayweather said after the fight.
By then, it had already gone further than many expected. In the build-up to the much-hyped event, Mayweather promised to come forward and seek an early knockout. Ultimately, he took his usual risk-averse strategy in the opening rounds, not throwing a meaningful punch until 55 seconds into the fight.
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However, while that gave some moments of excitement to the Irishman’s followers, it also left McGregor gassed, with his mouth open and his punches lacking snap.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he was," Mayweather said. "He used a lot of angles. But I was the better man tonight.
“Our game plan was to take our time. … Then take him out at the end.”
By the 10th, McGregor barely had enough energy to stand, let alone throw punches and Mayweather moved in for the finish.
“I guaranteed everybody this fight wouldn’t go the distance. Boxing’s reputation was on the line,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather’s victory took his professional career statistics to 50-0, one clear of the record held by Rocky Marciano. Many, however, will question whether those figures should come with an asterisk, given the obvious and vast gulf in quality and experience between himself and McGregor.
Regardless, at 40, and having secured another enormous payday, it is unlikely Mayweather will be seen in the ring again, and he even penned a farewell letter to his fans in the fight program.
“This was my last fight tonight, ladies and gentlemen. For sure," Mayweather said after his victory.
McGregor had promised his unorthodox style would provide Mayweather with a tougher challenge than any he had previously faced. Ultimately though, McGregor’s lack of boxing prowess shined through.
“I thought it was close, and I though the stoppage was a little early," McGregor said after the fight. "…The ref should have let me keep going. I was just a little fatigued.”
Mayweather was fighting for the first time since beating Andre Berto in 2015 and feared in the lead-up to the contest if his time away would slow him down. It didn’t matter. This was always going to be an experiment and the answer was clear — boxing and mixed martial arts are two different sports, and expertise at one of them does not guarantee success at the other.
“I’ve been here before," McGregor said. "I’ve been strangled on TV and come back. … I thought I was close.”
McGregor’s loud insistence that he was poised to become the new “face of boxing” now seems a little foolish, although big nights and sizeable paychecks await him on his return to the UFC.
Will McGregor box again? "I don't know. We'll see," he said.