Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor: Super-Early Expert Picks

Bleacher Report Combat Sports StaffFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2017

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor: Super-Early Expert Picks

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    After many months of jabs on social media, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor have made all the arrangements to trade punches for real this summer in what promises to be a grand spectacle of combat sports. 

    The August 26 megafight will go down at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and will follow traditional boxing rules. Both fighters will need to weigh in under 154 pounds before facing each other for 12 rounds—if it goes the distance.

    While opinions may vary on who has the advantage in the ring—OK, everyone thinks Floyd will win easily—there is no doubt that these two are generational talents when it comes to showmanship. At the very least, they will provide extraordinary entertainment from now through fight night. 

    We've gathered a panel of boxing and MMA experts—which consists of Chad Dundas, Lyle Fitzsimmons, Scott Harris, Kevin McRae and Jonathan Snowden—to give their early predictions on everything from who wins, to the potentially star-studded entourages, to what happens next for both fighters. Read on to see how they think this will play out. 

Who Wins? When and How?

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    The panel doesn't think Mayweather will falter in this one.
    The panel doesn't think Mayweather will falter in this one.Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Chad Dundas: Mayweather will take a lopsided unanimous decision. Considering Floyd's defensive mastery and McGregor's inexperience, it's the only thing to expect. Then again, everything else about this fight is off the wall, so perhaps the fight is declared a no-contest after aliens land in the ring during the third round.

    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Based on the frenzy in the aftermath of the announcement and the revenue this thing will generate, the real winners are Floyd and Conor's tax attorneys. That said, the fight itself is a slam dunk. The only way Floyd loses is if he dies on the ring walk. Mayweather by TKO, whenever he chooses. 

    Scott Harris: Mayweather by unanimous decision. McGregor takes him the distance but doesn't look that great doing it.

    Kevin McRae: Mayweather will win by unanimous decision, and it won't be particularly difficult. Floyd has never been known to take chances, and why should he here when he can get paid tens of millions of dollars for a high-profile sparring session? Conor has no chance. 

    Jonathan Snowden: Floyd is 49-0 as a professional, with dozens of his wins coming against world-class foes. This is Conor's first pro boxing fight. Of course Mayweather will win. How? However he wants. 

The Most Memorable Moment of the Fight Will Be…

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    Will Conor at least land something to make the fight interesting?
    Will Conor at least land something to make the fight interesting?Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Dundas: That it plays out exactly as expected. Mayweather will work his game, and Conor won't have an answer. The crowd will pop during the bout's sparse high spots—when Mayweather lands a flurry or McGregor comes close with a power shot—but it'll be a mostly tepid affair. Afterward, people will ask, "I paid $100 for this?"

    Fitzsimmons: The two months of run-up will push the internet envelope at every turn, but I'd imagine the most fun part on Aug. 26 itself will be the in-ring staredown and the initial few moments when the outcome is still a "mystery." Once McGregor swings and misses a few times, the buyer's remorse will arrive quickly. 

    Harris: The moment Floyd Sr. reminds his son about all the horrible things Conor said about him in the run-up to the fight, to be followed by a round of extreme clowning.

    McRae: Will there really be one? This is such a sham and such a cynical money grab that it's hard to imagine many memorable moments will happen once the bout actually begins. Maybe the pre-fight instructions, where the fighters stand face to face, will give us something.

    Snowden: Early in the first round, McGregor will charge forward with a blistering left hand. To his shock and dismay, Mayweather won't be there when it arrives. The look on his face will tell the entire tale of the fight.

Who Will Be the Better Trash-Talker During the Promotion?

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    There is one area where our panel gives Conor the edge.
    There is one area where our panel gives Conor the edge.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Dundas: McGregor. Mayweather may be the A-side here, but most the pre-fight intrigue will come from Conor. In MMA, we're used to McGregor's gift of gab, but he'll be a revelation to the mainstream and boxing media. They'll eat from his hand, and he'll exit this fight $100 million richer and with droves of new fans.

    Fitzsimmons: Mayweather has been the best villain in boxing for years, but McGregor eclipsed Ronda Rousey as the UFC's top attraction thanks in large part to his acting up in the presence of cameras and microphones. Throw in Floyd Sr. and you have a two-month fantasy for media types and meme creators.

    Harris: Conor, and it's not close. He is not afraid to "go there," and Mayweather has plenty of "go theres" in his past. He'll style on Mayweather out of the ring as much as he'll be styled upon inside it.

    McRae: McGregor. He's never participated in a professional boxing match, and yet, he was able to goad an undefeated future Hall of Fame fighter into giving him the payday of a lifetime. That's his one win here.

    Snowden: McGregor is a one-of-a-kind extemporaneous talker. No one I've ever seen in combat sports, including Muhammad Ali, could possibly match wits with him. Mayweather's only way to win this battle is to smile and pretend it's not bothering him—even if it is. Especially if it is.

Will This Fight Set the All-Time PPV Record?

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    Dundas: Yes, it will. It's amazing that literally no one of any substance thinks this fight will be competitive or compelling—and yet it'll still make a mint. Credit McGregor, who'll work so hard in the lead-up that even the most hardened cynics will secretly start to wonder if maybe he has a chance.

    Fitzsimmons: The early guess is yes. While plenty of purists have been wringing their self-righteous hands since Wednesday afternoon's news, the sheer volume of interest from boxing, MMA and casual sports fans has been prodigious. If you ever thought of owning a sports bar, sign the deal before late August.

    Harris: Yes. There's so many converging fanbases here: boxing and MMA, pro wrestling for good measure, U.S. and Europe, sports fans and curiosity seekers and those who can't resist a good cultural touchstone, no matter the nature of it. Throw in the fact that the runway to the fight is almost entirely devoid of major sports action, and you've got a perfect storm.

    McRae: It probably will. Sure, some boxing fans, still hungover from the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao debacle, will promise to boycott, and some will, but morbid curiosity and our propensity to support the stupid will drive sales. A lot of money will be made here, which is the only point.

    Snowden: All sides are working hard to pretend McGregor is a reasonable opponent for the best boxer of his generation. Can they convince enough suckers to believe it? I wouldn't be surprised. At some point, an event like this gathers so much momentum that success is inevitable. This boulder is already moving quickly and will be unstoppable by the time August 26 arrives.

Who Will Be on the Undercard?

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    Will there be anything enticing on the undercard? Probably not.
    Will there be anything enticing on the undercard? Probably not.Associated Press

    Dundas: A bunch of boxers, probably? There's been some crazy talk of additional boxer vs. UFC-fighter spectacles on the card, but I doubt it. I'd wager the UFC won't have anything more to do with the actual production, aside from making nine figures for allowing McGregor to put his name on the contract.

    Fitzsimmons: It's a Mayweather Promotions event, so expect to see the guys the boss anticipates will be carrying the load once he finally hangs it up for good. Gervonta Davis seems a solid bet, as does Badou Jack. And who knows, maybe it's time for a James Toney-Randy Couture rematch.

    Harris: Officials haven't said definitively yet but did indicate it would be an all-boxing affair, per Bloody Elbow. As a rule, boxing undercards don't carry the same intrigue as MMA undercards. That said, rumors are afoot. Heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua may step in with UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic, and UFCer Wilson Reis has challenged boxer Gervonta Davis. I hope they don't go overboard with these. I know the money's better in boxing, but MMA needs to protect some strands of its dignity!

    McRae: Mayweather will reward fighters in his stable with what promises to be maximum exposure. Expect to see Gervonta "Tank" Davis, an undefeated rising star who recently captured the IBF Super Featherweight Championship, and possibly Badou Jack.

    Snowden: The undercard will require trip after trip to Wikipedia or BoxRec in a vain attempt to answer that. The main event will cost nine figures—for the B-side! There won't be anything left for an undercard worth watching.

Who Will Floyd Have in His Entourage for His Ring Walk?

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    Justin Bieber and Mayweather: the world's weirdest friendship.
    Justin Bieber and Mayweather: the world's weirdest friendship.Associated Press

    Dundas: I have no idea.

    Fitzsimmons: No offense to Lil' Wayne or the Biebs, but a circus like this calls for Mayweather to up his game. Anyone know what President Trump has going that night?

    Harris: If Justin Bieber's not in it, I snap off the television set, and Floyd knows that. Aside from that, I'd expect a little product placement. He and The Burger King have pulled that sort of wackiness before. How about Mr. Peanut or the Vlasic Pickle Stork? The mind boggles. Moving on.

    McRae: Floyd has done it all. He's walked to the ring solo, and he's walked to the ring accompanied by an entire Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil outfit. What's left? The MGM Grand lions? Gonna say Floyd strips it down here and comes out with his classic entourage, which, of course, includes Bieber.

    Snowden: Floyd's entourage is delightfully diverse. This is a megaevent, so the wattage of the stars will be brighter than ever. Bieber will be in his corner—but he won't be alone. A wild guess? Rick Ross, Triple H and Mariah Carey. Because why not?

Who Will Conor Have in His Entourage for His Ring Walk?

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    Will Conor McGregor enlist any fellow MMA stars for his ring walk?
    Will Conor McGregor enlist any fellow MMA stars for his ring walk?Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Dundas: To date, McGregor's career has been typified by his extreme loyalty to his team at Straight Blast Gym. I expect this fight will be no different and his entourage will be largely populated by his cohorts from SBG, including longtime coach John Kavanagh.

    Fitzsimmons: It wouldn't be hard for McGregor to assemble a cadre of people whom Floyd has irritated in the past. Maybe he'll bring Rousey out for a Saturday night date, or have Dana White and Manny Pacquiao rap him from the locker room.

    Harris: If Sinead O'Connor sings him out, that breaks the Irish record for simultaneous goosebumps. His coach, Kavanagh, will surely be there. I just hope he doesn't block my view of Artem Lobov. Look for him to get a big boxing name to stand beside him. Mike Tyson is a huge UFC fan...

    McRae: Dana White for one. He might as well walk his biggest star to slaughter. It wouldn't be surprising to see a couple of other notable UFC stars coming out to support their man in this ill-fated cross-sport fiasco. 

    Snowden: I don't anticipate McGregor's attempting to match Floyd's celebrity rolodex. He'll walk out with his core team of training partners and his coach. This is a prize fight after all.

Will the Inside-the-Ring Action Be Better Than Mayweather vs. Pacquiao?

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    Our experts are not optimistic about the entertainment value of the fight itself.
    Our experts are not optimistic about the entertainment value of the fight itself.Associated Press

    Dundas: Probably not. Pacquiao was past his prime by the time he fought Mayweather, but he was still one of the best fighters of his generation. He was still a professional boxer. McGregor is neither of those things. McGregor probably has less boxing experience than Mayweather's greenest sparring partner. Not sure how that translates into a good fight.

    Fitzsimmons: From a "Jeez, I have to watch this just to see what might happen" perspective, yes. Wondering if McGregor can restrain himself from throwing a spinning heel kick is worth a glance or two alone. But once the titillation dies down and it becomes a boxing match, it'll make May-Pac seem like Gatti-Ward. 

    Harris: Not likely. McGregor is going to need to charge forward to get in range to land his massive left hand. Mayweather is going to dance and bob and weave to avoid said left hand. As with May-Pac, there won't be a lot of violence (probably even less this time), but if you like things like quickness and footwork, you could enjoy this show.

    McRae: Incredibly, no. Mayweather-Pacquiao was years too late and completely devoid of drama. Everyone who shelled out one hundred bucks for the pay-per-view and countless more to see it live, rightfully felt screwed. Buyer beware. Buy this if you want, but don't be shocked or complain when it's worse. Much, much worse. 

    Snowden: If you love Floyd, this is going to be a great night. If you're Team Conor, it's going to feel endless. Pacquiao is widely considered one of the 50 best boxers of all time. It's easy to forget that, mostly because Mayweather made him look so ineffectual and impotent. If he can do that to a future Hall of Famer, what's it going to be like for an overmatched rookie?

What Will Floyd Do Next?

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    Expect to see more Mayweather courtside at NBA games in the future.
    Expect to see more Mayweather courtside at NBA games in the future.Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Dundas: Retire, I suppose, and live out the rest of his days atop a throne made from the skulls of his enemies, venturing outside only to sit courtside at the Lakers and make music video cameos.

    Fitzsimmons: Once you've toppled your biggest boxing rival (Pacquiao) and the only other combat sports practitioner with a comparable social media footprint (McGregor), what else is there? I'd anticipate he'll cash in on all the 50-0 merchandise and return to promoting. But who knows, maybe he runs for president.

    Harris: Retire 50-0 with more money than anyone could spend in four lifetimes.

    McRae: He'll act like he actually accomplished something besides padding his already considerable bank account. On the bright side, all you fans of The Money Team will be able to purchase copious amounts of 50-0 trademarked hats for a hundred bucks each on his website. Beyond that, he'll retire again. 

    Snowden: A win will bring Floyd's record to a perfect 50-0. There's something special about that. It certainly sounds much better than 51-0 or, god forbid, 50-1. For aesthetics' sake alone, I think he walks away from the ring for good. 

What Will Conor Do Next?

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    Will McGregor continue his illustrious MMA career after fighting Floyd?
    Will McGregor continue his illustrious MMA career after fighting Floyd?Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Dundas: At fight's end, Conor will get on the mic and say "I stepped up and challenged the greatest boxer of the modern era at his own game. Will any of the so-called best boxers in the world have the guts to do the same with me inside the Octagon?" Then we'll see if they do.

    Fitzsimmons: It'll be a soft landing back in UFC, where he won't lose any of his dual-championship gravitas. There are plenty of Octagonal fights out there to be made, particularly with Max Holloway or Khabib Nurmagomedov or even a Nate Diaz three-match. And if he beats Floyd, good lord. No one is safe.

    Harris: Return to the UFC. He'll still be the lightweight champion with plenty more main events awaiting him. He was the biggest star in the sport before this, so imagine him after this. There has been some retirement chatter, and McGregor likes to pretend it's all about the money, but he loves a challenge and he loves the spotlight. There's plenty of both for him in MMA. 

    McRae: Conor will retire a very, very wealthy man. He's going to get embarrassed. It'll be epic. But, don't worry; we're sure that the huge wads of cash he'll take home from this heist will help him cope just fine.

    Snowden: With $100 million or more in his pocket, Conor will hold all the cards in his relationship with the UFC. Will he fight again? Who will it be against? Whatever the answers, he'll be making his own decisions and continuing to rethink the possible every time he enters an arena.

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