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The unpredictability of combat sports is what makes its disciplines so popular. And it’s why the prospect of illustrious boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. taking on MMA specialist Conor McGregor has captivated the sporting world.
Although many expect Mayweather to coast to victory in the boxing ring on Saturday, plenty will tune in for this spectacle to be a part of history. And in the case of McGregor, a man who has regularly broke new ground in the UFC, it’s difficult to predict with any confidence what might happen.
Factor in the vibrant personalities of both men and the money set to be at stake, and it’s a sporting occasion not to be missed at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Here’s how the bookmakers are seeing things and a look ahead to what will be a highlight of the 2017 sporting calendar.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: 1-4
Conor McGregor: 3-1
Figures courtesy of lines monitored by OddsShark and accurate as of Aug. 20.
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Given the unprecedented nature of this fight, it’s difficult to imagine how the contest will pan out. McGregor, after all, has never been involved in a professional boxing bout.
Mayweather has been involved in 49, and every time he has entered the squared circle, he’s emerged victorious. The man known as Money is rated as the finest boxer of his generation and arguably the most skilled defensive fighter the sport has ever seen.
It means that even on the back of almost two years of inactivity—his most recent outing was against Andre Berto in September 2015—he is anticipated to have more than enough to beat a boxing novice. As we can see, courtesy of Arash Markazi, Mayweather is putting pressure on himself to end this one inside the distance:
That’s not something he has done since 2011, when a potshot on Victor Ortiz helped Money earn a fourth-round knockout.
The question that’s being asked by the combat sports cognoscenti is, how does McGregor approach this one?
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After all, if this is a pure boxing bout, Mayweather will win comfortably. The Irishman must do something the great man hasn’t encountered previously in his distinguished boxing career. You can bet The Notorious won’t just want to hang with his rival; he’ll want to spring one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
McGregor made it clear via Instagram in the buildup to the contest that he is ready to “destroy” his unbeaten opponent (Warning: post contains NSFW language):
Still, as you’d expect, his training process has not been without controversy. McGregor was sparring with former boxer Paulie Malignaggi in the buildup to the fight, and the latter left the camp. Malignaggi was said to be unhappy with some images that were leaked showing the Irishman getting the better of exchanges, per Jed Meshew of MMA Fighting.
The former WBA welterweight champion has since criticised McGregor’s fighting style, suggesting he “whimpers like a girl when he gets ripped to body.” Sports journalist Raj Bains noted how the needle between the former training partners has become quite the sideshow:
Defeating Mayweather will surely prove to be too great a challenge for McGregor. The Irishman has power, is the naturally bigger man and is adept at landing left hands. But they are talents he only knows how to use to the fullest effect in MMA.
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Although Mayweather is adamant that anything other than a win inside the distance would not be good enough, it’s easy to envisage a scenario in which he makes this fight all about him.
There is little chance of Money taking too many chances, getting within range of McGregor too often or fighting on the inside. If he stands back, picks his shots and counters effectively, he will cruise to victory and show up his opponent.
Prediction: Mayweather to win on points.