Leading into the showdown with Floyd Mayweather, the most common argument for a possible Conor McGregor win was a simple one: puncher’s chance.
More specifically, the punch that the UFC lightweight champ’s powerful left hand packs.
On Saturday, though, the expected happened: a cerebral Mayweather outboxed an ultimately gassed McGregor, earning a 10th-round stoppage and heading into retirement (again) with a record-breaking 50-fight unscathed record.
McGregor, however, was no push-over. Not only did he last 10 rounds in a boxing debut against one of the all-time-greats, but he started out strong and landed a fair share of shots – 111 of them, to be precise.
Mayweather (50-0 boxing), himself, gave big ups to McGregor’s (21-3 MMA, 0-1 boxing) surprising boxing chops. But, when it came to the Irishman’s dreaded power, it would appear he wasn’t that impressed.
“As far as his punching power – he’s solid,” Mayweather said in a press conference after the pay-per-view main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “I’ve felt it before, so that’s why I kept coming straight ahead.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the type of power to say, ‘I can’t come forward.’ Because if it were that type of power, I wouldn’t have come forward.”
McGregor was also expected to unleash some chaos early on Mayweather, with many pointing toward flirting with illegality as a possible path to victory for the UFC’s lightweight champ. We got to see some of that, too, with McGregor sneaking in some punches to the back of Mayweather’s head in the earlier rounds.
On his end, Mayweather – who’d already pointed to some dirty fighting by McGregor in the controversial sparring footage with former two-division boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi – acknowledges the blows happened. But he refrained from giving both the UFC champ or the ref much heat for it.
“I let the referee do his job,” Mayweather said. “I’m not here to bash the referee. But you guys knew what was going on – a lot of rabbit punching. A lot. Things happen, but you live and you learn. The referee is a hell of a referee. Conor McGregor is a hell of a fighter. I’m not here to bash anyone. I just went out there to do my job tonight.”
In any case, it’s not like Mayweather kept things squeaky clean, either. After the bell rang signaling the end of Round 5, for instance, the boxer pushed McGregor in the chest.
Considering not only the illegal blows that McGregor was landing, but the aggressive promotion process that involved some heated pre-fight exchanges, one could see that as Mayweather’s way of letting out some frustration or even sending the Irishman a message.
But the 40-year-old boxing legend says that it was not the case.
“Give the fans what they want to see,” Mayweather said. “I pushed him and taunted him. ‘You still ain’t knocked me out, yet. I thought you said it wasn’t going past the fourth. Show me your real power.’ That’s all.
“Trash-talking that fighters do – whether it’s MMA or boxing. We talk trash, that’s what we do. When the best compete against the best, we want to be pushed, and that’s how boxing and MMA goes.”