We’re about two weeks away from all hell officially breaking loose in the combat sports world, if it hasn’t already.
You’ve probably heard a thing or two about unbeaten boxing legend Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing) taking on UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) later this month. The two meet in a crossover boxing match – McGregor’s first – on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in what is expected to be the most lucrative fight in history.
You’ve also probably heard a thing or two about how McGregor really doesn’t have much of a shot against a man who will be in his 50th boxing match. Mayweather opened as a 12-1 favorite, though those odds have been bet down to 7-1. Sure, the MMA contingent has a list of reasons why McGregor could pull off a stunner, but the odds are what they are for a reason.
But Tuesday, Mayweather sat down with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith – presumably willingly – and rattled off a whole bunch of reasons why … wait for it … wait for it … why McGregor could, or even should, beat him.
Bear in mind, we’re only a few weeks removed from the massive press tour “Money” Mayweather and McGregor did in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn and London, during which Mayweather made no bones about McGregor having no shot.
But with Smith, with the fight looming, his tune seemed to change. According to Mayweather, it’s all about McGregor’s youth, height and reach. And then the typically brash Mayweather added some self-criticism to the interview, admitting he’ll have ring rust, that he’s lost a step, his power is gone – and he’s “slipping.”
Was it a moment of brutal honesty and self reflection? Or was it reverse psychology?
“When you look at myself and Conor McGregor on paper, he’s taller, has a longer reach, he’s a bigger man from top to bottom,” Mayweather told Smith. “He’s a lot younger. I’ve been off a couple of years, and I’m in my 40s. So if you look at everything on paper, it leans toward Conor McGregor.”
Mayweather is coming out of retirement for the fight against McGregor. It will be his first fight in nearly two years, since a unanimous decision over Andre Berto in September 2015. Before that, his megafight with Manny Pacquiao was a lackluster decision win for him in May 2015.
McGregor won the UFC’s featherweight title in December 2015 with a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo. Then he had a pair of welterweight fights against Nate Diaz – a submission loss and majority decision win in the rematch – before going after the lightweight title. In November 2016, he stopped Eddie Alvarez to become the first concurrent two-division champ in UFC history, though the promotion stripped his featherweight belt two weeks later, leaving him to move forward at lightweight. But he hasn’t fought since then and instead focused on the birth of his first child – and going after the megafight with Mayweather.
A win over Mayweather obviously would be monumental – and might even necessitate a rematch, meaning the paydays would be off the charts for all parties involved a second time.
“I’m not the same fighter I was two years ago,” Mayweather said. “I’m not the same fighter I was five years ago. I lost a step. A fighter like Andre Berto isn’t even supposed to go the distance with Floyd Mayweather. But remember, I was 38. It’s obvious I’m slipping a little bit to even let a fighter like that go the distance with me. I’m not what I used to be.
“I used to have a 90 percent knockout ratio. It’s obvious I slipped somewhere. Something has taken a toll on my career.”
In actuality, the closest Mayweather ever was to a 90 percent knockout ratio was seven fights into his career, when he had six knockouts for an 86 percent clip. Thirty fights into his pro career, his knockout ratio was at 70 percent.
But despite seeming to upgrade McGregor throughout, Mayweather still believes the fight is his.
“I didn’t say I couldn’t fight. I just said I’m not the same Floyd Mayweather I once was.”
For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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