After months of ever-increasing hype and anticipation, heavily favored Floyd Mayweather defeated Conor McGregor on Saturday night in the 10th round by technical knockout (TKO).
More than 14,600 fans packed into Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena to watch Mayweather, thought of by many as the greatest boxer of all time, battle it out with the polarizing MMA star. McGregor, who once called boxing a “quarter fight” in comparison to UFC matchups, was forced to trade in his leg kicks and grappling moves for more traditional jabs and hooks.
McGregor came out firing during the first three rounds, relying on an unorthodox stance and unconventional moves to catch Mayweather off guard. It paid off. The at-times cocky Irishman landed a number of solid strikes while effectively limiting his opponent, appearing to win each of the first three rounds.
McGregor was warned during the second round to avoid back-of-the-head punches, illegal in boxing matches and sternly frowned upon in MMA fights, as well. He continued to punch the back of the American’s head throughout the remainder of the match.
By the fourth round, Mayweather, who retired after Saturday’s bout with an unparalleled 50-0 record, finally found his footing. Boxing competitively for the first time in 714 days, Mayweather’s endurance and boxing intelligence slowly overtook McGregor’s initial surge. The Irishman took several shots to the body during the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, which began to take a toll.
Round seven arrived, and Mayweather, who promised fans he would knock McGregor out before the end of the 12th round, transitioned to an even more aggressive strategy. The 40-year-old American continually worked McGregor’s body while landing a couple of brutal head shots, as well. McGregor’s endurance (or lack thereof) began to rear its ugly head. These are the rounds Mayweather lives for.
Rounds eight and nine brought more of the same; Mayweather exploited McGregor’s loosening form and landed a series of devastating rights. At one point, he attempted to finish the fight with an uppercut, but McGregor somehow found a way to tie Mayweather up and avoid (or, in hindsight, delay) the inevitable. By this point, Mayweather’s experience and endurance were on full display. He dominated the ring and refused to allow McGregor a breather. Mayweather’s punches became increasingly frequent, hard and accurate. The end was near.
McGregor hit the ropes in round 10, exhausted by Mayweather’s finessed approach. He lined McGregor up and unleashed a maelstrom of punches until the MMA star’s head dipped onto his shoulders. After an onslaught of blows, referee Robert Byrd called the fight. Much to the pleasure of Vegas oddsmakers (who heavily favored Mayweather), the American emerged victorious.
Early estimates indicate the fight’s pay-per-view revenue may top $600 million. Needless to say, both fighters will be compensated well. Fans may have seen the last of Mayweather (who, it should be noted, has retired before), but McGregor, still just 27 years old, has plenty of fuel left in the tank. He is expected to return to the UFC in the coming months to defend his Lightweight Championship.