5 Reasons Conor McGregor Maybe, Just Maybe, Can Defeat Floyd Mayweather
Look, I know what you're thinking, and you're completely right. On paper, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor is one of the most egregious mismatches in the history of combat sports.
Mayweather is 49-0 in the ring, with clean wins over many of the best boxers of his generation, including Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. Peppered in there are a slew of accolades, including an Olympic bronze medal, numerous display cases of championship titles and countless Boxer of the Year awards.
McGregor, meanwhile, is 0-0. Despite achieving amazing things in mixed martial arts, he has no professional or amateur boxing experience.
By almost every metric, Mayweather has an insurmountable advantage over McGregor in a strictly stand-up fight. The key word there, of course, is "almost."
Believe it or not, there are a handful of areas where the UFC lightweight champ bests Mayweather. With that in mind, it's worth discussing what advantages McGregor has and how they could maybe, just maybe, lead him to a win on August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
During the Mayweather vs. McGregor World Tour, the Irishman repeatedly took swipes at his opponent's smaller stature, alleging the boxer attempted to downplay that by wearing "high heel" shoes. While Mayweather isn't that much smaller than McGregor by normal standards, when they're stripped down to shorts, boots and gloves, the size difference will be profound.
McGregor, despite fighting at 145 pounds for much of his career, walks around between camps around 170. Mayweather, by comparison, has traditionally fought at 147 but doesn't venture much higher than 150. The two agreed to weigh in no more than 154, but when they enter the ring on fight night, there will likely be a 15- to 20-pound weight advantage in McGregor's favor. The 5'9" mixed martial artist also has a one-inch height advantage.
Size isn't everything, and an advantage doesn't mean as much in boxing as it does in MMA. Still, it doesn't hurt, and if McGregor gets to stay in close on Mayweather, it will pay dividends.
August 26 will mark the end of the longest layover of Mayweather's entire boxing career, with the 714 days between his bouts with Andre Berto and McGregor eclipsing the previous record of 651 days between fights with Ricky Hatton and Marquez. By comparison, McGregor will be shelved for just 287 from his last fight with Eddie Alvarez.
That's a stark turnaround for Mayweather, who, outside of a few lulls, has been one of boxing's more active stars.
While Mayweather still looked to be in phenomenal shape during his retirement (more or less), there will almost certainly be some level of ring rust to the champ. And if he's not as crisp as he used to be? It might just crack the door open a little for McGregor.
Mayweather is 40 years old. McGregor is 29 years old. I don't really have to explain to you who is better positioned to win a boxing match in that regard, right?
Mayweather's fighting style lends itself well to career longevity, but he has been fighting professionally for a whopping 21 years. Before that? He had nearly 100 amateur bouts. McGregor's physical candle is burning more brightly than most, and Mayweather is so far along in his career that it's difficult to even compare.
That doesn't automatically spell victory for McGregor, but it does compound the previously discussed disadvantages in physicality. Mayweather won't be able to shake off the ring rust as quickly. He won't be able to pack on muscle for a fight at a higher weight class than he prefers. And he won't be able to fully utilize any speed advantage he may have as the smaller man.
Can a 90 percent Mayweather win this match? 80 percent? 70 percent? Maybe! Either way, it's highly unlikely that the 100 percent version of Mayweather appears.
What happens if Mayweather loses on August 26? His legacy is tarnished, sure. Boxing's credibility takes a bit of a hit among mainstream sports fans. Any surviving Rocky Marciano fans will breathe a sigh of relief that their hero's 62-year-old undefeated record through 49 bouts—Mayweather also sits at 49-0—will remain unbroken.
Ultimately, though, Mayweather won't be impacted much by a loss. He'll still cash a check that's deep into nine-figure territory, he'll still have his mansions and he'll still be one of the highest earners in the history of sports (seventh, according to Men's Fitness with a cool $765 million in career earnings).
Back in 2015, Gareth A. Davies of the Telegraph wrote that the only things that mattered to Mayweather were his bank account and undefeated record. In 2017 with his career all but over, it's easy to wonder if that statement is only half-right.
On the other hand, what happens if McGregor loses? While it won't ruin his career, and while he'll still become a rich man afterward, it'll be a solid shot to his reputation. We saw during his rivalry with Nate Diaz that he does not take kindly to that.
Mayweather's work ethic and mental fortitude have never been in doubt, but it's easy to wonder if he doesn't feel the need to push himself as hard as he has. McGregor, though, is obsessed with proving himself and taking Mayweather's spot as the king of combat sports.
He's Still 'Mystic Mac'
One of the biggest disservices McGregor's naysayers do to him is dismissing his work on the microphone as simple smack talk. Sure, he has a sharp tongue and will use it at any opportunity...but McGregor wouldn't have achieved cult-of-personality status if he were just using the stick to berate his foes.
No, McGregor's words carry a special kind of weight to them based on his scarily accurate breakdowns of how his fights will go. And this isn't just simple "I'll knock him out in the first" hot air.
He broke down how Diego Brandao would fold under his pressure. He predicted a second-round finish over Chad Mendes. He basically gave a play-by-play of his fight with Jose Aldo before it even happened. While he isn't 100 percent with these, he's correct often enough that his analysis is must-watch material and detailed enough that it simply can't be dismissed.
That's why, despite sounding generic, his proclamations that he will finish Mayweather inside four rounds carry a fair bit of weight.