Conor McGregor knows how to take advantage of an opportunity. Prior to putting his name on a contract to fight undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match, he was loud, egomaniacal, confident and charismatic.
Once he put his name on a contract to battle Mayweather at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, all of the above factors have gone up in multiples.
Many observers thought that a boxing match between a legendary champion and mixed martial artist would barely rate a blip on the sporting radar because it appeared to be a mismatch. But McGregor has convinced his supporters and the general public that such a perception is not necessarily the case.
McGregor has been promising to stop Mayweather inside of four rounds for weeks. Many fight fans are putting their money on McGregor as the interest in the pay-per-view fight has blossomed.
The biggest bets are on Mayweather, but Joe Fan has not been hesitant to go to the window and put his money on McGregor, per Justin Terranova of the New York Post.
"I've been lacing up the gloves my entire existence," McGregor said, per Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press (h/t Boston Globe). "Of course, we will come with a different approach than people are used to, we will paint many pictures inside the ring. It's not going to end well for Floyd. It's not going to end well for all the people who are doubting me and are so convinced that this is what it is."
Interest is reaching fever pitch for the Saturday night fight, and McGregor appeared to have some kind of high temperature as he was screaming in Mayweather's face Friday evening at the weigh-in. McGregor's behavior appeared to look like he couldn't wait to get in the ring with Mayweather, but the reality of fighting his opponent will be far more challenging than drumming up interest in the fight.
Mayweather has been relatively calm compared to the bombastic McGregor, but he offered this assessment of the fight. "After 21 years I've been hit with everything and I'm still right here," Mayweather said. "If you give it, you must be able to take it."
Mayweather's greatest skill throughout his career is in the defensive aspects of boxing. He has been in the ring with hard punchers such as Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao, and he rarely gets hit by power punches. He has almost never been hit by clean combinations that leave him in a vulnerable position.
He is getting in the ring with a boxing neophyte who is proposing to hammer Mayweather after a slew of talented and experienced fighters have barely been able to lay a glove on him.
Give McGregor credit for working as hard as possible to prepare for such an ordeal. He has been in the gym for weeks trying to improve his boxing skills, and he has spent hours riding a bicycle in the heat of the day in a further attempt to improve his stamina.
Mayweather has not come close to matching his opponent's training efforts. He has spent his time meeting and greeting guests at his strip club, taking vacations and buying his family members gifts.
When he has been to the gym, Showtime's All-Access cameras have shown him at his gym overseeing young fighter Gervonta "Tank" Davis, meeting celebrity friends like Snoop Dogg and occasionally hitting the speed bag.
His level of training indicates that he has no respect for his opponent. If anything can do Mayweather in, it is that attitude.
Mayweather is a minus-375 favorite in the fight, according to OddsShark, but those odds have come way down since the start of the fight. McGregor is a plus-285 underdog.
The gambling website reports that the original odds had Mayweather at minus-2250 and McGregor at plus-950, and they quickly moved to Mayweather at minus-800 and McGregor at plus-500. The odds have continued to move in the direction of the Irish fighter.
When the two fighters finally make their way into the ring, reality is likely to hit McGregor hard.
He may be bigger, stronger and determined to win, but he has to find a way to hit Mayweather with hard punches. Mayweather is a master of avoiding contact in the ring, and once McGregor learns how difficult it is to make contact with his opponent, he will get frustrated.
McGregor has been talking about an early stoppage, and in some ways, that makes sense. The longer the fight goes, the more McGregor's lack of boxing skill, acumen and experience will be exposed.
McGregor's best option is to attempt to turn the fight into a toe-to-toe slugfest, but Mayweather will not oblige.
Mayweather's defensive skill, quickness and quick jab will dominate the fight. Mayweather's quick lefts will set up hard right hands, and he will punish McGregor. He is not going to stop his opponent, but Mayweather will take 11 or all 12 rounds and win a one-sided unanimous decision.
McGregor won't like it and he may have many explanations after the boxing match, but they won't matter. He will get beaten decisively.