Floyd Mayweather has convincingly defeated MMA star Conor McGregor in their Las Vegas superfight, but the Irishman did his reputation no harm by proving to be a capable pugilist against one of the all-time greats of the sport.
The fight was stopped by the referee in the 10th round as the American landed punches at will and the Irishman’s stern resistance came to an end.
McGregor showed he is more than just a big mouth, keeping Mayweather on guard for the first half of the fight, before his stamina began to fade.
Mayweather may lack the tremendous power of some fighters in the super welterweight division, but his lighting speed and near-flawless technique allowed him to pepper McGregor’s head with a barrage of punches which increased in frequency as the fight went on.
The Irishman, who began the fight full of pep and purpose, was little more than a lumbering target by the 10th round, when referee Robert Byrd correctly stopped the fight.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he was,” Mayweather admitted after the fight.
“He used different angles … but I was the better man tonight.”
Octagon fighter shows his ringcraft
With many expecting the fight to fizzle after such a hype-filled build-up, McGregor at least proved he had learned a lot in his boxing crash course over the past few months.
The 29-year-old was the more aggressive boxer in the opening rounds, but he did not launch himself at Mayweather in the hope of landing a lucky haymaker, as many predicted he would.
The Irish southpaw came at his 40-year-old opponent in the early rounds, using his extra reach to extend his right mitt as a probe, before firing flurries of punches. Mayweather defended himself easily, but he was unable to land any meaningful hits of his own.
Through the second and third rounds McGregor grew in confidence as the American sat back and scoped out his opponent. He sat smiling on his stool at the end of the second round and began switching between a southpaw and orthodox stance in the third.
McGregor even tested the referee by giving Mayweather a cheeky slap on the back of the head.
In the fourth, McGregor came out hard, pushing Mayweather back against the ropes and hurling punches into his watertight defence. Unfortunately, after extending himself physically for the first time, the Irishman began to show the first signs of weariness.
Mayweather, satisfied he had seen enough, started phase two of his fight, moving forward and catching McGregor with some sharp, stinging punches.
“He’s composed,” McGregor said after the fight. “He’s not that fast, he’s not that powerful, but man is he composed.”
The tide had turned, even if it would take a few rounds for Mayweather’s dominance to really pay off.
Mayweather finds McGregor’s weak spots in later rounds
By the fifth, Mayweather was the man moving forward. His straight punches were landing more regularly and his favourite straight right-left hook combination was hurting McGregor.
The younger, bigger fighter was learning first-hand about Mayweather’s fabled speed; both in attack and defence. His own punches were now sailing well wide of the mark and the American’s were cracking into him time and time again.
Come round seven, Mayweather was doing real damage, or as much as he as capable of with his slight frame, drawing blood from the mouth of McGregor.
The MMA man, not used to fighting for so long at such high intensity, was now feeling it in his legs and dropping his hands, as Mayweather coolly went up through the gears. Mayweather also called on his vastly superior boxing experience, striking with sneaky close-in blows from all conceivable angles, as the Irishman staggered about.
“That was our game plan, we wanted him to shoot his heavy shots early,” Mayweather said.
“In the MMA he fights 25 minutes [and] after 25 minutes, he started to slow down.”
By the ninth round McGregor’s legs were completely shot and Mayweather began to tee off for real.
Byrd called an end to the affair in the tenth as the wobbly McGregor was clearly no longer able to defend himself. Mayweather would not have done any lasting damage, but there was no reason for the fight to continue, despite McGregor’s muted protests afterwards.
“I’m just a little fatigued,” he said. “Let me go down, let the man put me down. That’s energy, that’s not damage.”
Having buried their snarling, vicious personas from the fight’s promotional tour, both men were gracious in the aftermath, with Mayweather admitting he was surprised at how adept a boxer McGregor had become.