Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor: Projecting the Next Fight for Both Fighters

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2017

Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, embraces Conor McGregor after a super welterweight boxing match Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat Conor McGregor by 10th-round TKO Saturday night in Las Vegas, and with their megafight now a thing of the past, the two will head off in what are likely to be significantly diverging directions.

McGregor remains UFC's lightweight champion, having held the belt since his victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 last November. Not only is he one of the company's 12 champions, he's also arguably the biggest star in UFC.

According to Tapology, four of UFC's five biggest pay-per-view buy rates came when McGregor was one of the headliners. UFC President Dana White will want McGregor back in the Octagon as soon as he'll be physically ready to perform.

In June, White told MMAjunkie's Mike Bohn and John Morgan that McGregor wants to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov on Nurmagomedov's home soil.

"You know what Conor told me? He said, 'I want Khabib in Russia'," White said. "Isn't he (expletive) awesome? He's like, 'I want Khabib, in Russia.' He's awesome. Conor McGregor is a (expletive) unicorn. There's nothing like him. He's working on boxing Floyd Mayweather and then he's talking about fighting Khabib in Russia right after."

Nurmagomedov is the No. 1 fighter listed behind McGregor in the lightweight rankings on UFC.com, but he may have to go through Tony Ferguson in order to face off with the champion.

The two went back and forth earlier this month on Twitter:

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were originally supposed to fight for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209 in March. Nurmagomedov was hospitalized prior to the bout, forcing UFC to scrap its plans.

Having McGregor fight the winner of Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson would make sense in terms of merit and timing. They're the two best lightweight contenders, so either would be a formidable opponent. And having McGregor wait for the victor would allow him enough of a break after the Mayweather fight to physically recover and then shift gears to his mixed martial arts training after spending months honing his boxing technique.

McGregor's relatively strong showing in the ring does, however, create the possibility he'd embrace a full-time transition to boxing. Yahoo Sports' Chris Mannix doesn't believe that would be an advisable pursuit:

Mayweather may be one of the greatest fighters of his generation, but he's also clearly in the twilight of his career. Were McGregor to take on younger boxers who are in their prime, he may run into serious trouble.

While McGregor's boxing career could potentially be getting started, Mayweather's may finally have reached its conclusion. He told Showtime Sports' Jim Gray Saturday's victory will be his final fight:

Mayweather now has his 50th career win to surpass Rocky Marciano. Regardless of how he got there, Mayweather can point to his 50-0 record as the defining aspect of his legacy in the ring.

From a self-preservation perspective, Mayweather also has little reason to fight again. He'll turn 41 in February, and although he hasn't shown a significant decline from his prime years, leaving on top is far better than overstaying your welcome in sports.

Finances would almost certainly be the driving factor in whether Mayweather fights again.

Mayweather stands to make nine figures from this weekend, and at least some of that is going to the federal government. ESPN.com's Darren Rovell shared a report from Law360 that stated Mayweather's representatives asked the IRS to wait until after the McGregor fight for Mayweather to pay his $22.2 million outstanding tax bill.

Further financial difficulties down the road could offer an incentive for Mayweather to continue his boxing career.

Even if he never needs to make another dollar to live comfortably for the rest of his life, the prospect of another nine-figure payday could entice Mayweather to step in the ring for the 51st time.

The only hangup there is that it's hard to see who Mayweather could fight to make that happen. He has already fought Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao, and a rematch with either guy probably wouldn't break any revenue records. In addition, Keith Thurman doesn't have the broad popularity of Alvarez or Pacquiao.

Gennady Golovkin would be a blockbuster opponent for Mayweather, but there's virtually no chance he would put his perfect record on the line against someone with Golovkin's skill and punching power.

Few expected Mayweather to fight McGregor until the fight was actually announced, so a return for Mayweather shouldn't be ruled out completely.

But the odds are fight fans saw the last of Mayweather as an active boxer Saturday night.

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