There is a small boxing underground in and around Charlotte. We know each other, if not each other’s names, through encounters at local cards. I’ve found only one boxing fan, a guy that really knows the sport, who believes Conor McGregor will beat Floyd Mayweather.
The fight is Saturday in Las Vegas. If you want to watch it in or around Charlotte on Spectrum TV the cost is $99.99. Will the boxing fans I know pay to see it? No, they say.
But somebody is. Mayweather-McGregor will be the highest grossing fight of all time.
Older fans that grew up with boxing are going to favor Mayweather the boxer. Younger fans that grew up with mixed martial arts are going to favor McGregor the mixed martial artist. No matter who they cheer for, we will witness a spectacle.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
One reason the fight attracts so much attention is because it’s a coming together of different species. McGregor, the biggest star in mixed martial arts, is a former amateur boxing champion in Ireland. He’s fast and he hits hard, harder than Mayweather. McGregor is 28.
Mayweather, 40, is coming out of retirement for the second time. Reflexes can be dulled and speed mitigated when athletes retire. Mayweather last fought in September of 2015. He's always in impeccable condition. He trains hard. But can he replicate those skills against McGregor?
McGregor is not without advantages. He’s 12 years younger than Mayweather, one inch taller and has a two-inch advantage in reach. When they stand together, McGregor clearly is the bigger man.
Mayweather also has an advantage: He’s the greatest defensive fighter in boxing history. He can accomplish with simple roll of his shoulder what other boxers can accomplish only with two arms and two legs.
Mayweather, 49-0 with 26 knockouts, has a nice right, but he’s not a great puncher. Opponents, however, become so frustrated at missing that they open up and gamble, and suddenly, there they are, as if they were ordered from room service, prepared to be hit. That’s when Mayweather becomes offensive.
McGregor, 21-3 as a mixed martial artist with 18 knockouts, hasn’t boxed since he was an all-Ireland amateur champion. He became a mixed martial artist in 2008, when he was still in his teens. It's been a long time since he fought wearing padded gloves in a ring.
McGregor is fearless and he has power and, unlike most of Mayweather’s opponents, was neither intimidated nor shy during their pre-fight news conferences. He out-Mayweathered Mayweather.
But boxing is a new discipline for McGregor. He can’t kick or apply a chokehold. All he gets to do is box. It’s almost like asking him to pick up Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers on a blitz or beat the Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker one on one.
McGregor will attack, land a few punches and get the crowd jumping and screaming. But that's all he'll do. Mayweather will simply outclass him. I like Mayweather by a knockout in round nine.