Floyd Mayweather recorded a classy tenth round stoppage victory over Conor McGregor in their highly anticipated showdown in Las Vegas, becoming the first boxer in history to achieve 50 professional victories without defeat.
Mayweather surpassed Rocky Marciano’s career record in what he claimed was his final fight as he overcame a challenging start to outclass two-weight UFC champion McGregor, before the referee waved the fight off a little over one minute in to the tenth round.
McGregor had started the contest quickly, taking the fight to Mayweather in the opening two rounds as the boxing legend tried to come to terms with the unorthodox style of mixed martial artist McGregor who was making his boxing debut.
“that was our gameplan. we knew in mma he fights 25 minutes really hard but after that he would slow down” – floyd mayweather
But from round three on Mayweather began to take control, gradually ramping up the pressure before closing out the win in the tenth round.
“Our gameplan was to take our time, go to him, let him shoot all his heavy shots early and then take him out at the end down the stretch”, said Mayweather immediately after the fight.
“We knew in MMA he [McGregor] fights 25 minutes really hard but after that he would start to slow down. That was our gameplan.”
After months of trash-talk and world media tours, Mayweather and McGregor finally met inside the ropes, and it was boxing newcomer McGregor who enjoyed the best of the early moments, taking the fight to Mayweather and seeing a left uppercut land flush on Mayweather’s chin, although the American did not appear too troubled by the shot.
And Mayweather, making his first appearance in 23 months, seemed to have a little difficulty in getting to grips with McGregor’s unorthodox boxing style early on. But as the fight wore on it was all Mayweather.
In the third and fourth rounds he began to find his range. With the early pace beginning to take its toll on McGregor, Mayweather adopted a more aggressive approach, stalking down the Irishman and appearing to be able to walk through the UFC champion’s shots in order to land more accurate, punishing blows of his own.
A good right hand from Mayweather rocked McGregor back on his heels at the end of the fourth and the Irishman increasingly looked to get close to Mayweather and outmuscle him, roughing him up in the clinch, but with little impact in the fifth.
Mayweather began to target the body in the sixth, connecting with some powerful looking shots to McGregor’s midsection that further sapped his energy while two straight rights to the nose late in the sixth and midway through the seventh rocked McGregor.
Mayweather continued to hunt McGregor down in round eight before McGregor looked to launch one last hurrah at the start of the ninth, backing Floyd up in the neutral corner before appearing to hurt Mayweather with a shot that bordered below the belt.
That seemed to spark Mayweather in to life and he dished out some punishing right hands to McGregor’s head for the remainder of the ninth, with McGregor’s legs increasingly looking like they were giving way.
“I thought it was a little early on the stoppage. I get like that when I’m tired. I’d have liked to have hit the floor” – conor mcgregor
And the finish came in the tenth, as Mayweather backed an exhausted McGregor up in the corner and landed a good right hand followed by another as McGregor tried to slip away. A third short right hand to the jaw saw McGregor stagger across the ring, somehow remaining on his feet as Mayweather rained down punches on his prone target before referee Robert Byrd stepped in to call the fight off, confirming Mayweather’s place in the history books.
“I thought it was a little early on the stoppage”, said McGregor following the fight.
“I get a little wobbly and floaty when I’m tired. I’d have liked to have hit the floor. There is a lot on the line, I thought the referee should have let me keep going but fair play to him [referee Robert Byrd].
“I thought I took the early rounds and he [Mayweather] had to change his style and fair play to him he adjusted, put his hands up and walked forward.
“He’s composed. He’s not that fast and he’s not that powerful but he was making me throw and he’s so patient with his shots. I’ve got to give him nothing but respect, he’s had a great career.”
While boxing novice McGregor certainly emerged with great credit for his courageous performance the night ultimately belonged to Mayweather, who declared the history making victory would be his last.
“This was my last fight” announced Mayweather in the ring.
“He [McGregor] was a lot better than I thought he was. He used different angles and was a tough competitor but I was the better man tonight.
“I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see. I told them I owe them for the Pacquaio fight and that I must come ahead and give them a show and I think that is what I gave them.”
Mayweather’s perfect 50 fight professional career took him one win clear of legendary American heavyweight Rocky Marciano, who ended his career in 1955 with 49 professional wins, ensuring his place not only in the history books but in boxing folklore.
–Alistair Sargent (Editor, Sport)