On August 26th the world gets to see a fantasy match up between The UFC’s biggest draw Conor McGregor, and Boxings biggest name, Floyd Mayweather Jnr. The Notorious one will compete against Money Mayweather in a cross combat fight under Boxing rules in the squared circle. The build up has been living up to the hype, the charasmatic Irishman has overshadowed Money Mayweather Jnr in the lead up but can he overshadow Mayweather Jnr in the ring? Does Conor McGregor stand any chance of victory, stepping into another mans sport? In this article I will break down the pro’s and con’s facing the two weight MMA Champion to find out whether he faces an uphill battle, or a stroll in the park. First, let’s look at the pro’s supporting McGregors chances…
Physicality: McGregor is undoubtedly much bigger and much stronger than Floyd Mayweather Jnr. Although the fight will be contested at 154lbs for the weigh in, McGregor will come into the fight weighing 170lbs+
Mayweather would not have fought someone who weighed so much on fight night.
Being the bigger and stronger fighter, McGregor should look to push home this advantage and overpower Mayweather with roughhousing tactics. The size is such a disparity, that McGregor is convinced Mayweather Jnr will not be able to cope with his power, predicting a knockout within four rounds. McGregor needs to bully Mayweather Jnr with his bigger size and strength.
Styles: This really is in relation to the above point. Mayweather Jnr is still the biggest draw in Boxing, but he is also much smaller than McGregor and is not a big puncher. McGregor should be able to take Mayweathers punches much better as a result. Mayweather Jnr is also not an aggressive Boxer, he is a defensive mastermind and a counter punching fighter. This style lends itself to a ‘safer’ fight for McGregor. Had McGregor called out someone of similar size such as Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin, the fight prediction would have been easy to call for Mystic Mac, it would be over for him within three rounds, most probably in the first round.
Activity: Mayweather Jnr has been retired for two years and is now 40yrs old. McGregor is in his fighting prime at just 29yrs old. Although Mayweather has taken extended breaks in the past and returned after 21 months to put on a sublime performance against Juan Manual Marquez, he was still only 32yrs old at the time of that fight. Coming back from a lengthy layoff at age 40 against a bigger guy Mayweather Jnr cannot afford to find out his reflexes have slowed and get tagged by someone who is essentially a Super Middleweight/Light Heavyweight where one punch can change everything. McGregor only needs to land one big punch to get into Mayweathers head.
Mystery: McGregor has never had a ‘proper’ Boxing match. No one knows what to expect of him when he steps inside the ring. How will he move? What are his tendencies? No one knows for sure. Floyd Mayweather Jnr does not know what to expect and how Conor McGregor will fight him. The Money Man likes to take a few rounds to settle into a fight and work his opponent out, but how will he react to something he has never seen before? It is these first few rounds which present McGregor with his best chance of winning.
Background: McGregor is known in the UFC for his striking abilities, he is a puncher first and foremost and it is well documented he started his fight career learning how to Box as a youth. Is it really such a big jump for him to go into a Boxing fight considering his background? He has always preferred the stand up game and now he gets the chance to work on and improve his Boxing skills without having to worry about takedowns, knees and kicks, his famed punching power and fisticuffs should be even better after months of training focused solely on his hand work.
Now here’s a look at the not so bright side for McGregor…
The Body: Body shots slow your opponent down, it can negate the difference in size and manipulate your guard. Does McGregor even throw body shots? If he doesn’t and simply goes head hunting, he will become predictable and Mayweather will find it much easier to defend because he now knows what is coming, which then makes it much easier for Mayweather to time his counter attack. Is he used to defending body shots? Let me tell you, I would much rather take a punch on the jaw than a hook to my liver, if McGregor is not used to defending body shots, it can quickly wear down on you and eventually slow you down. Floyd is a master of using the jab to the body to slow his opponent and gradually draw their guard down. (speaking of jabs – Does McGregor have a good enough and active enough jab to keep Floyd off him?) Can McGregor handle the switching levels of attack he will face from Floyd? If he struggles against the body shots, this will only add to the woes of having to prepare for a 12x3min round fight, how many times has McGregor gone past three rounds in his fighting career? The last thing McGregor wants is to have his endurance further dented by attacks to his mid section.
Clinching: Yes McGregor is the bigger and stronger man but does he have an inside game or know how and when to clinch? Clinching in Boxing is totally different to clinching in MMA. McGregor will have to resist the urge to follow his instincts and throw a knee or go for the take down. He will lose valuable seconds if he is having to resist his MMA urges and will likely take a lot of short punches to the body and head. Floyds shoulder roll is primed for fighting in the pocket and in and out of the clinch.
Experience: McGregor simply does not possess enough experience and has not fought the variety of world level Boxing talents that Mayweather Jnr has. Floyd on the other hand, has pretty much seen it all inside the ring. To improve, you must spar better opposition to continually progress. Has McGregor been sparring high level talent in the build up to the fight? Sure he sparred Malinaggi, a former two weight champion but Malinaggi was also retired and out of shape(you can have all the technical ability in the world or even one punch knock out power but if you are out of shape then it counts for nothing) and is a world apart from what he can expect from Mayweather Jnr.
Instincts: McGregor simply does not have enough time to iron out any defiencies in his technique, if he has punched one way suited for MMA so long, he will struggle to correct it in time for the fight, and when the fight starts and when he gets even just a little tired or in the heat of the battle, those old bad habits will return. Dave Chappelle said it best – McGregor is spending his time learning how to Box, Mayweather is spending his time training.
On top of that, Mayweathers instincts inside the ring are second to none, no one has a better ring IQ than Mayweather who knows his way around the ring and knows how to feint his opponent and set traps for them.
Defense: Does McGregor even have a defense up to mark for a professional Boxer? Now he has to defend himself against a World Class Boxer. Even at 40 and even if you believe the two years off have slowed him down, Floyd Mayweathers defense will be amongst the best in the world. McGregor not only has to find a way to penetrate the defense of one of the greatest defensive wizards in Boxing history, he has to be able to defend himself against Floyds wide variety of punches, to block shots coming to the head and body in the same combination and not fall for Floyds canny feints and traps. Nate Diaz was able to successfully land on McGregor time and time again during their fights, it’s just as well McGregor has a great chin because if he hasn’t improved his defense since then, his chin(and his ribs) is going to get a lot of action come August 26th.
In my opinion, Conor McGregor seems to be relying on hope for this fight. He is hoping he is too big and too strong for the much smaller Mayweather, he is hoping to overpower Floyd and land the knockout and he is hoping that Mayweather, at age 40 has suddenly turned old after a two year absence from the sport and will not be able to handle his exuberance of youth, which is in his peak fighting years.
Whatever the outcome though, McGregor will be a winner. He is making his debut against the sports biggest name and will earn more money in one night than he could have even dreamed of had he remained in MMA and fought the rest of his career in the octagon. I wasn’t a follower of McGregor in the UFC, MMA is not a sport I follow much but I did admire the likes of Royce Gracie, Fedor Emelianenko and Vitor Belfort, all of whom I did keep an eye on. Not to mention other great names such as Bas Rutten and Chuck Liddell. I will now add Conor McGregor to that list. Conor McGregor has already surpassed them in popularity and he deserves respect for everything he has accomplished, I am sure he will continue to achieve a lot more in the future – just not on the night of the 26th….My prediction is that McGregor will come out swinging for the fences because the more he tries to box Floyd, the more he gets outclassed, McGregor has a punchers chance and that’s about it. I predict an easy win for Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle