Wow. It’s tough to find the words to describe what I just witnessed. Conor McGregor stepped into a boxing ring for the first time against the best in the game, an undefeated legend - and he actually looked good! It wasn’t just Floyd Mayweather Jr. getting off to a slow start. McGregor still looked good, even after that!
It was certainly a strange fight. It had some sideshow elements. McGregor landed some hammerfists to the back of Mayweather’s head in clinches. Mayweather kept just turning his back on McGregor, and somehow it seemed like McGregor was getting blamed for it. McGregor seemed to actually hurt Floyd early in the ninth with a body shot, but the ref ruled it a low blow. It wasn’t. But right after that, Floyd took over.
Mayweather fought completely differently than I’ve ever seen him fight before. The man known for air-tight defense was the fighter coming forward and attacking. He was taking counters and he didn’t care. It was surreal to see, and McGregor described it perfectly post fight - “I turned him into a Mexican!”. But Floyd’s gameplan was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
McGregor started very well. He easily won the first three rounds because Mayweather wasn’t getting off. Mayweather finally ramped it up and took the next three rounds, though one was close. I gave McGregor the eighth, and it was close. That round was a damn brawl, a spectacle I’ve never experienced before. But it was the turning point.
It’s when Conor, the MMA superhero stepping onto foreign ground to fight an icon, got tired.
In the ninth, Mayweather beat McGregor down, making him clinch and keeping him wobbled. It looked like McGregor was doomed. If this was MMA, you could take a man down, get an extended clinch, breathe. Boxing isn’t like that though. You get beat up, you take a ton of damage, the fight gets stopped.
Make no mistake, Conor McGregor was not knocked out by Floyd Mayweather. But he was stopped, and it was a clear and valid stoppage. That’s the sport. McGregor thinks it was early, of course. That’s an MMA fighter’s mentality, and I don’t begrudge him for it. But he was in another world tonight, and that world has different standards.
That led to Floyd Mayweather going to 50-0, Conor McGregor upping his stock as an attraction, and it gave the fans a hell of a fight for their money. The Money Fight delivered indeed.
Despite the awkwardness - and it was awkward - everyone won tonight.
- Gervonta Davis did not have a good night. He was lethargic, only fought in bursts, and let Fransicso Fonseca stick around way too long. In addition to that, he ended the fight with a blatantly illegal blow that the referee missed. Between dropping his title on the scales and the actual fight, his stock went down tonight.
- Badou Jack completely dominated Nathan Cleverly in a star-making performance. Cleverly, who is quite an active fighter himself, couldn't sit down on any of his punches and Jack's subtle angles and movement let him take over almost immediately. He really started hurting Cleverly in the fourth, particularly to the body, and Cleverly couldn't take it. A bloodied Cleverly was hunched over to protect his body against the ropes in the fifth, making him an easy target for Jack The Ripper. That led the referee to stop the fight.
- I really, really want to see Badou Jack vs. Adonis Stevenson in the Bell Centre in Montreal.
- Andrew Tabiti put in a workmanlike performance against Steve Cunningham, using a speed advantage over his bigger and older opponent. When he put combos together they were quite pretty, but he just didn't do it enough. He landed an average of 12 punches a round. Badou Jack was landing at least 12 a minute. Tabiti could be a player, but he needs to up his workrate.
- Late replacement Yordenis Ugas and Thomas Dulorme engaged in an entertaining, albeit strange fight. Each man knocked the other down and had spurts of dominance. I gave each man five rounds. But Dulorme couldn't stop landing low blows and was ultimately deducted two points for it. It was the difference in the fight.
- The opening fight of the Fox undercard was actually pretty good. Juan Heraldez showed off his age and experience by outboxing 19-year-old Jose Miguel Borrego, but Borrego's big power came into play in the six and ninth round. Borrego actually dropped Heraldez in the ninth, but he held on, cleared the cobwebs, and looked decent in the tenth. Heraldez easily took seven rounds and won a unanimous decison victory despite the knockdown.