As the drumbeat for a Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight grew progressively louder over the past two years — culminating in Wednesday’s announcement that the boxing match between the pugilist and the mixed martial artist would take place Aug. 26 in Las Vegas — one constant remained: The bout would be interesting in theory but a bloodbath on paper, with Mayweather wiping the floor with McGregor. And indeed, the early odds reflect that.
(For the gambling uninitiated, -700 means one would have to wager $700 to win $100 on a Mayweather victory. It implies that the boxing champion has nearly a 90 percent chance of winning.)
But why? McGregor is seen as one of UFC’s best punchers. Shouldn’t that translate from the octagon into the boxing ring? Here’s why it might not.
He’s never seriously trained as a boxer before this year.
There really isn’t much more to say about this. Boxing has been Mayweather’s occupation for his entire adult life and for many years before that. McGregor, though heralded for his striking skills in MMA and an amateur boxer as a youth, only began training solely for this bout earlier this year. This is probably a bit of an oversimplification, because it’s not like McGregor has never thrown a punch before, but it’ll be like stepping to the plate against Clayton Kershaw after a few trips to the batting cages.
McGregor wears four-ounce pads when he steps into the octagon. He’ll be wearing 10-ounce boxing gloves against Mayweather. They’ll feel like “bricks,” the Vertical’s Chris Mannix says. Which leads us into …
The fight is 12 rounds.
McGregor’s longest-ever MMA fight lasted five rounds and only two of his bouts made it past the second. That’s a long time to keep lifting those bricks against one of the better defensive fighters of all-time and perhaps the best one.
The distance between two points.
In his MMA fights, McGregor can kick away an opponent to maintain his distance and think about his next move. He won’t be able to do that against Mayweather. In fact, UFC President Dana White said Wednesday that the contract McGregor signed expressly forbids any sort of MMA-style moves. “This is a boxing match under the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” White said, per USA Today. “When you talk about a guy like Floyd Mayweather — the lawsuit if that ever happened … you all know how much Conor likes money. Conor would depart with a whole lot of money if that ever happened.”
This is not to say McGregor is bereft of advantages. Mayweather has had some difficulties with southpaws — “The left hand is the Kryptonite for Mayweather,” Oscar De La Hoya said in 2015 — so the left-handed McGregor could find an edge there, and the boxing champion will be coming off a nearly two-year “retirement” when he steps into the ring. On paper, however, this fight shouldn’t be close, but paper — namely the $600 million-plus this fight is expected to bring in — is pretty much the reason for its existence.