After it was all said and done, perhaps the best thing to take from "The Billion Dollar Fight" between undefeated 5 weight world boxing champion, Floyd Mayweather, and two weight UFC world champion, Conor McGregor, is that it should finally put an end to the silly debate of whether a fighter from one sport could switch codes and be competitive at the highest level of the other. While McGregor should be given credit for reaching the tenth round, against an all time great in a sport in which he was making his competitive debut, this was a professional boxing match, and from that perspective the Notorious was simply outclassed.
The fight can be analysed from so many different angles that a host of narratives have emerged since the final bell sounded in Las Vegas. In the end, the final result was exactly what those who understand the sweet science fully expected, as Mayweather coasted his way to a stoppage victory.
Conor McGregor deserves a tremendous amount respect for his performance against Floyd Mayweather. Whatever you want to say about Mayweather, his boxing capabities are undeniable, and for McGregor to reach the latter stages of what was his first professional boxing match is commendable no matter what way you look at it. However, the statistics for this fight have been analysed in such a manner as to suggest that it was competitive, when that quite simply wasn't the case.
Yes it's true that McGregor landed more punches than several world championship level boxers managed against Mayweather, and the Irishman did even win a round or two, for which he deserves a lot of credit.But at the the end of the day, this was one of the easiest fights of the former pound for pound king's career. Despite the fact that this was possibly one of the most lethargic performances we have seen from him, Mayweather was able to pick up his first legitimate knockout
(not counting Ortiz) victory in almost a decade without ever getting out of second gear.
Again if you analyse the bout from the point of view that this was a mixed martial artist switching codes to take on the best boxer of his generation, then Conor McGregor did very well. However, if an evaluation is carried out based on what McGregor said he was going to do, his performance was a massive let down. The left hand that was going to knock Money out cold within two rounds turned out to be a poor impersonation of the solitary jab landed by Audley Harrison on David Haye in their WBA heavyweight title fight.
For all the talk of the power in he UFC featherweight champion's left hand, his punching technique was of such poor quality that his best shots could have easily been absorbed by the chin of Amir Khan without forcing the famously chinny Briton to blink an eyelid. Of all the 111 punches compubox had McGregor landing, maybe 4 or 5 connected with any real purpose.
Dana White was very quick to point out that McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than Manny Pacquiao did in their 2015 bout, which may be true but is at the same time totally irrelevant for so many reasons. When Pacquaio did land on Mayweather, he was able to knock the American back on his heels and earn his respect. Pacquaio's punching prowess was such that Mayweather was forced to retreat on the back foot and box his way to a unanimous decision, in a manner that drew much criticism from several boxing quarters.
Mayweather has never apologized for what many perceive to be an overly defensive style and has always emphasized that the win is the most important thing in boxing. A defensive masterclass was required to beat the Filipino legend, and McGregor simply didn't deserve that level of respect.
It has been suggested that Mayweather carried his opponent during the early part of the fight and that is very unfair on the two weight UFC world champion. McGregor may not be a world class boxer, but he has proven himself as a world class fighter and thus deserved the same respect any Mayweather opponent has gotten in that the five weight boxing world champion spent the early stages of the bout studying the MMA fighter's strengths and weaknesses.
However, after a couple of rounds analysis it became clear that the threat posed was non-existent and Mayweather was able abandon the defensive style that he has become synonymous with, and march forward like an old school Mexican. In doing so Money did take a few more shots than expected, though it must be said that McGregor's best shots would make Paulie Malignaggi's right hand look like sweet Susie Q.
To be fair to McGregor, despite his clear lack of boxing fundamentals, the UFC star did his best to box behind a jab and use footwork to keep himself out of range. When he did wrap his arms round Mayweather it was more desperation than any attempt to gain an advantage and ironically came out second best when the fighters were allowed to fight out of clinches. By the end though McGregor was almost out on his feet and taking far too many big shots to the head, leaving Referee Robert Byrd with little choice but to stop the fight.
McGregor has claimed that the stoppage might have come a bit too early, but it served absolutely no purpose to let the fight continue. The Notorious One had been totally dominated in the previous round and was no longer in a position to defend himself, having failed to throw a punch in almost a minute. It's baffling to hear McGregor fans say they would have preferred to see the fight go on. Were they enjoying the sight of his head being snapped back? Would they have liked to see him knocked out cold? The battle had become futile by that point and to let it continue would have served only to endanger McGregor's long term health.
Though somewhat entertaining, it is hard to judge whether the fight justified the hype, or the money the fighters received. Did a fight between a guy coming out of retirement against a guy from a different sport deserve to break the pay per view record set by a fight which determined the best boxer of our generation? Should a guy who had not yet mastered the art of throwing a proper punch, fighting a 40 year old who hardly broke a sweat, split one of the biggest purses in boxing history?
The answers to the above questions are a matter of personal interpretation, but one thing that simply can't be debated any longer is the age old question of whether a UFC star can enter boxing at the highest level (or vice-versa). McGregor fans will point to their guy going 10 rounds as evidence that he was competitive at the highest level of boxing. But in reality, an MMA fighter in his physical prime was beaten up by a 40 year old boxer coming out of retirement and giving away around 20 lbs in weight. However, there is absolutely no shame in that and if you applied the same set of circumstances to a boxer entering the octagon the same outcome would be forthcoming.
The fact of the matter is that if this fight had been allowed to continue much longer, Conor McGregor, now on a two-month medical suspension, would have run the risk of suffering serious injury. Similarly, if this fight had taken place under MMA rules, such is the damage that McGregor would be capable of inflicting on his opponent, the long term health of one of the best boxers of all time would be in jeopardy.
Some fight fans find this very difficult to apprehend, but the fact remains that a fighter who has not dedicated himself to a particular craft will not be able to properly defend himself if placed in a situation where he must compete under that rule set against the elite of that profession. If you take the money out of the equation, these fights serve only to satisfy the curiosity of a few die hard fans and place the fighters swapping codes at serious risk.
The curtain has fallen, may it remain down.
This article first appeared on Jason's blog, here.