And finally, shortly after midnight Sunday morning on the East Coast, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor got down to fighting.
Two of the most recognizable faces in so-called “Combat Sports” met in the boxing ring: the 49-0 boxer in Mayweather, age 40, and the MMA champion in McGregor, 29. It was McGregor’s first professional boxing match. And the final odds seemed the reflect it.
Mayweather started slowly and dominated a tired McGregor in the middle rounds and walloped him with a series of wicked blows in the decisive 10th round when he got a TKO decision. McGregor told the official “I’m tired” shortly after he stopped the fight. He certainly looked it.
For the fight, Mayweather landed 53 percent of his punches compared to just 26 percent for McGregor. Mayweather, who plans to retire, ends his career at 50-0. He goes off into the sunset after his first knockout in six years.
“I think we gave the fans what we wanted to see,” Mayweather told Jim Gray in an interview in-ring post-fight. “I told them I owed them for the (Manny) Pacquiao fight and I was coming straight ahead to give them a show and that’s what I did. He’s a lot better than I thought he was. He gave me different angles, but I was the better man tonight.”
McGregor said he might box again, but said he’ll definitely return to UFC.
“I thought I took the early rounds pretty handy,” McGregor said in his post-match interview in ring, “and he had to change his style. He’s composed in there and he was making me throw and he was patient with his shots....I’m just a little fatigued. He’s composed in there and that’s what 50 pro fights will give you. I’ve been here before. I’ve been strangled on live TV and came back...I thought we were close. I get a little wobbly when I get fatigued.”
McGregor, though, earned some fans and appeased some of his existing fans with a spirited performance that surely surprised some experts. McGregor, for example, landed more punches on Mayweather than Pacquaio, a boxing champion, was able to do.
Promoters had hoped to have the fighters in the ring by 11 p.m. EST, but issues with some fans buying the pay-per-view pushed the fight back.
And while Showtime probably did major business on the pay-per-view side, there were a lot of pirated streams via social media going on.
It also brought out plenty of celebrities from LeBron James to Mike Tyson, a huge audience at the fight in Las Vegas and a big pay-per-view audience worldwide.
The Round 1 bell didn’t ring until 12:14 a.m. eastern and McGregor came out swinging, while Mayweather basically played defense. A lot of experts thought Mayweather would barely get hit and pitch a shutout. That certainly didn’t happen. He lost the first round and took a nasty uppercut to boot.
Round 2 was more of the same. Mayweather just didn’t throw enough punches.
But as the fight wore on, Mayweather become more offensive and McGregor appeared to tire after throwing so many hard punches early. The fight appeared to be tied after the sixth round, and Mayweather appeared to be taking over. By the ninth round, Mayweather was repeatedly hitting a tired McGregor. In the 10th, Mayweather ended it.
“Tonight was my last fight, for sure,” Mayweather said. “Tonight I chose the right dance partner to dance with. Conor McGregor, you’re a helluva champion.”