Who is Conor McGregor?
A one-time plumber from Dublin, the man known as The Notorious is Ireland’s biggest sports star. He’s also the biggest name in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a mixed-martial arts (MMA) promotion. Like Mayweather, he is loud, brash and talented. He is also a pay-per-view hit, his headline bout with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 being the most bought MMA event in history. His MMA record stands at 21 wins and three losses.
What is UFC?
Boxing has often looked down its nose at UFC, but its competitors are supreme athletes. Fighters use styles from a mixture of disciplines, such as boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, Brazilian ju-jitsu, judo and karate. Bouts take place in an eight-sided cage known as ‘The Octagon’.
So is McGregor allowed to kick Mayweather?
Absolutely not. This is strictly a boxing match. Any attempt by McGregor to kick, wrestle, elbow or use holds should result in disqualification.
Does he know how to box?
Yes. He was training at the Crumlin Boxing club in Dublin as a 12-year-old and became All-Ireland champion at youth level before turning his attention to other combat sports at 16.
Why is Mayweather taking the fight?
Money, and lots of it. How much he makes depends on PPV sales. It could be as much as ZAR2,997.54 m but that figure will be boosted by other revenues. Mayweather’s sponsored fight attire will add another ZAR260.66 m to his earnings. McGregor could pocket ZAR912.30 m. The split between the pair is confidential, though reports suggest it is roughly 70-30 in Mayweather’s favour.
World titles on the line?
No, but a special ‘Money’ belt has been commissioned for the fight. It has no sporting value but contains 3,360 diamonds, 600 saphires, 160 emeralds and roughly 3.3lbs of 24-carat gold.
Does McGregor have any chance?
It’s boxing, so he always has a puncher’s chance. The Irishman, 11 years younger, certainly has power, especially in his left hand. Both his UFC titles were won via stoppage and he has a knockout percentage of 86. But will he ever get close enough to Floyd to unleash his power? It’s unlikely given Mayweather has rarely been shaken in his career.
Is Mayweather over the hill at 40?
Not at all. The American is a consummate professional and always keeps himself within a few pounds of his fighting weight. He hasn’t fought since 2015 but don’t expect his lightning-quick reactions to be greatly diminished. His diet and preparations will have been on point. After all, this is big business for him.
Don’t expect Mayweather’s lightning-quick reactions to be greatly diminished
How will the fight play out?
Mayweather is arguably the greatest defensive fighter of all time. He is also a supreme risk assessor. He has opened up against lesser fighters but he has exercised greater caution against big punchers, such as Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez. Of course, one punch can end a fight but it is difficult to make a case for McGregor against one of the greatest boxers ever.
Mayweather has never been interested in entertaining, nor does he take unnecessary risks to go for a knockout. Therefore he may be cagey in the first couple of rounds and gradually pick off McGregor. Whether the Irishman is knocked out depends on his endurance. A knockout for Mayweather is the most likely outcome but don’t be surprised if the American wins on points by a landslide.
How can I watch it?
Mayweather and McGregor will begin their ring walks at approximately 5am on Sunday morning (SA time) on Supersport 202.
Who is the referee?
American Robert Byrd who has refereed one other Mayweather fight, a unanimous victory over Robert Guerrero in May 2013. The judges are Dave Moretti (US), Burt Clements (US) and Guido Cavalleri (Italy).
What else do I need to know?
The Nevada State Athletic Commission sprung a shock by allowing the fighters to wear 8oz rather than 10oz gloves. Both will be happy with the change. For McGregor, the gloves are closer to the 4oz ones he wears in UFC, increasing his chances of landing a knockout blow. For Mayweather, wearing gloves that are 2oz lighter should increase his renowned hand speed.
Who’s on the undercard?
Given that the main event has the potential to be a damp squib, the undercard has been wisely stacked with some good fights – and there’s plenty of British interest. Wales’ Nathan Cleverly defends his light-heavyweight world title against Sweden’s Badou Jack, who defeated George Groves and also held James DeGale to draw.
Hartlepool-born Savannah Marshall, Britain’s first women’s amateur world champion, makes her professional debut, against American Sydney LeBlanc.
Mayweather’s protege Gervonta Davis will still fight despite being stripped of his IBF super-featherweight world title after failing to make the weight. He takes on Francisco Fonseca, but the title is only on the line for the Costa Rican should he pull off an upset.
How do the bookies see it?
Mayweather is favourite, though still a generous 3/10*, a bigger price than in many of his regular fights. McGregor is a stingy 5/2*.