Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas two sports worlds will collide when Floyd “Money” Mayweather faces Conor McGregor. Mayweather, one of boxing’s all-time best takes on McGregor the King of Mixed Martial Arts right now.
This fight will be in a boxing ring which has seen Mayweather compile a 49-0 record in his career. Many consider Mayweather one of the best boxers of this generation.
McGregor, on the other hand, will be making his professional boxing debut.
On paper this looks like a mismatch. Mayweather has been the overwhelming favorite with the Vegas odds while most fight experts expect this to be a one-sided beatdown in Mayweather’s favor.
It’s honestly hard to disagree with any of that logic if you look at this fight on paper.
What if, though, McGregor was able to pull off the upset and beat Mayweather?
Is it really that unthinkable that the extremely confident, hard-punching and trash-talking McGregor could back up his talk and beat Mayweather? Is it far fetched to think McGregor could be the first person to defeat Mayweather in a sport in which he hasn’t lost in in his 21 years as a professional?
Believe it or not McGregor can win. In fact, I think there are 5 ways that McGregor can beat Mayweather. Five ways McGregor can shock the sports world, do the unthinkable and beat the up-to-now unbeatable Mayweather.
Here are the 5 ways McGregor can pull off one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
1 – Size Does Matter McGregor is taller, stronger, and naturally heavier than Mayweather. This fight will be at 154 pounds. Mayweather has only fought at that weight three times in his career. McGregor’s best weight is at 155 pounds in the MMA. On fight night McGregor will likely enter the ring close to 20 pounds heavier than Mayweather once both fighters rehydrate after Friday’s weigh in. It will be imperative for McGrergor to use this size difference to his advantage. McGregor needs to make this a physical fight. He has to be the bully. If he can keep Mayweather on the ropes and is able to put his weight on him and rough him up it will make Mayweather extremely uncomfortable.
Oh and I mean exactly what I mean when I say “rough him up” in the fight. Make it a dirty fight. If McGregor can sneak a forearm, elbow or any other body part on Floyd and not get caught by the ref he needs to do it. As the saying goes, “it ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught.”
2 – An “A” for Effort One of the greatest skills Mayweather has as a fighter is his ability to control the pace of fights. He’s a notorious counter puncher, which has made past opponents of his reluctant to throw punches first at the risk of being counter-punched. McGregor can’t make that mistake and enter the fight with that same mindset of past Mayweather opponents. If he waits on Floyd to throw punches he decreases his chances to win. He has to throw punches in bunches. Even if he doesn’t land it will still force Mayweather to fight at a pace he’s not accustomed to. He will have Mayweather on his heels. To further that point, in Mayweather’s last three fights he has averaged about 30 thrown punches a round while his opponents have averaged close to the same. That’s not a lot punches; but again, a large part of that is due to Mayweather dictating the pace. McGregor needs to double and in some rounds triple that output. He needs to throw a minimum of 60 punches a round.
A blueprint to this approach for McGregor is Marcos Maidana’s first fight with Mayweather back in 2014. In that fight, Maidana threw 858 punches to Mayweather’s 426. That was an average of over 70 punches a round. In most rounds in that fight Maidana was the busier fighter. He won rounds against Mayweather on sheer activity as he was rewarded for that activity by the judges scoring the fight. McGregor has to do the same thing Maidana did. Plus McGregor is a showman. If he throws a lot of punches, plays to the crowd – or more importantly, the judges scoring the fight- he can steal rounds. If this fight goes the distance those rounds he steals could be the difference in a close fight and a decision victory for McGregor.
3 – Styles Make Fights At Wednesday’s final fight press conference here in Vegas Mayweather said all of his opponents have had strategies on how to beat him, but he’s still standing without a loss. That’s true, but none of his 49 opponents have been McGregor. McGregor is going to throw punches that will be unorthodox compared to average fighters. He won’t throw the normal combinations that boxers are typically trained to throw and Mayweather is trained to defend. McGregor will fight his way, which could confuse Mayweather. Confusion could turn to Mayweather being caught by punches he doesn’t typically get caught with by the average boxer. Again, that’s because Mayweather isn’t fighting the average boxer. He’s fighting a hard-punching fighter in McGregor. A fighter who has the intentions to destroy you with every punch he throws. Mayweather, in fights against boxers, has always been great with making in-fight adjustments. What if, though, McGregor’s style is one Mayweather can’t figure out because he’s not the typical boxer? That could turn into a long night for Mayweather and an upset in the making for McGregor.
4 – Stupid Is As Stupid Does Mayweather has been close to losing in his career twice in his 49 professional fights. Once against Jose Luis Castillo in 2002 and against the aforementioned Maidana in 2014. In both of those fights Mayweather took risks and fought very Un-Mayweather like. He stood on the ropes and took unnecessary punishment. He fought more flat-footed and boxed less. It made fights Mayweather would typically win with ease a much more difficult night in the ring for him. Even in victory.
Of course credit goes to both of those fighters too. For this fight, Mayweather has said time and time again this fight isn’t going the distance. For that to happen Mayweather will likely have to fight very Un-Mayweather like. That means taking risks that in the past have not turned out to be the best move for him. That means taking risks that could leave him open to be hit by the hard-hitting McGregor. And one thing we know about McGreogor is he can punch. It only takes McGregor landing that one punch on a risk-taking Mayweather that could change a fight and in turn change boxing history as a result.
Mayweather says he wants to knock out McGregor, but will he take the unnecessary risks to do so? If he does those risks could leave him being the one knocked out Saturday night.
5 – Father Time is Undefeated When I was 16 I could go out at 6 a.m. in the morning and play basketball until it was dark. Then do it again the next day and next day after that. Now at nowhere near that age I could barely get three hours in before I’m sure I would be grabbing my back, icing my knees, and done playing for the next six months. My body just doesn’t react like it used to. I don’t think I’m alone there. And while Mayweather is a great world class athlete, he’s also 40 years old. A 40-year-old who hasn’t fought in almost two years. A 40-year-old who hasn’t fought someone more than 10 years younger than him since 2013, when he fought Canelo Alvarez (who was 13 years his junior). McGregor will be 11 years younger than Mayweather when both men enter the ring on fight night. Mayweather said early in the promotional tour for this fight, “I’m not same fighter I was 10 years ago. I’m not same fighter I was five years ago. I’m not even the same fighter I was two years ago.”
That’s a very true and honest statement from Mayweather. The thing is we don’t know what kind of fighter Mayweather will be at 40. Mayweather doesn’t either. How will a 40-year-old Mayweather handle McGregor when he lands a punch on him? How will a 40-year-old Mayweather handle fighting for the first time in over 700 days? For the record, the longest stretch of inactivity of Mayweather’s boxing career. We’ve seen great fighters of the past – from Muhammad Ali to Sugar Ray Leonard to Mike Tyson – all get old overnight. One moment unstoppable and the next looking less than ordinary. When Father Time comes calling you don’t usually have time to prepare for it. Will Father Time come knocking for Mayweather Saturday night? If he does, it could be a rough night for Mayweather and a victorious one for McGregor.
Make no mistake about it: McGregor can beat Mayweather Saturday night. The question is will he be able to implement the right game plan he needs to in order to do so. Will he dare to be great at all costs? Will all the things that need to go right for McGregor in fact do so? Will he be able to do what no other man has done and beat Mayweather in his own sport?
One thing is for certain – millions of fans will be watching and looking to find out if McGregor can in fact do the unthinkable Saturday night.
– Sean Thompson, CBS Local