Mayweather vs. McGregor turned out to be more than just hype

LAS VEGAS — Looking in the rear-view mirror, the fighting world has been changed for the better because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor achieved together.

Capturing the attention of the entire world, Mayweather and McGregor made history with their “Money Fight” on Saturday night. The two biggest fighters on the planet, responsible for record-breaking gates and pay-per-view figures, took combat sports to the next level, creating an entirely new echelon of excellence. And it’s not just because they both got rich in the process.

Punters aggressively blasted the contest for months after it was first announced in May. How could a boxing novice, a cage fighter at that, step into the ring with the greatest pugilist of his generation, many questioned. And how could such a matchup be competitive, or even entertaining?

But he did. And it was.

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Despite the semantics before Saturday's big fight, Mayweather vs. McGregor was a monumental success.

Despite the semantics before Saturday’s big fight, Mayweather vs. McGregor was a monumental success.

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It’s true, Conor McGregor did not shock the world. He did not hand Floyd Mayweather the first loss of his career, and there were no heads bouncing off the canvas. But McGregor proved that elite mixed martial artists could hang with the best of them, literally.

The super fight wasn’t particularly close, although, by the estimation of many, McGregor did take those first three rounds (seriously, what fight were judges Burt Clements and Guido Cavalerri watching?). However, McGregor’s aggressive style and his crucial taunts brought the best out of Mayweather, who burned a lot of good will from the mainstream public the last time he set financial records in the ring.

Looking back on the 2015 Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao bout, which sold 4.6-million pay-per-views, it’s that exact fight that created multiple roadblocks and hurdles for the McGregor fight. The general public was burned last time out, scarred from a boring fight that perhaps occurred five years after its expiration date. Suddenly, and instantly, people who had never watched a boxing match in their life labeled Floyd Mayweather as a boring fighter, unaware and unfamiliar with the concept of his defensive genius.

Fighting McGregor would give Mayweather a chance to rebuild his athletic reputation and retire on the offensive. But even then, boxing purists were appalled that “Money” would break Rocky Marciano’s sacred record against some guy who never boxed professionally.

Mayweather vs. McGregor turned out to be more than just hype

The sour taste of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao also created a deep mainstream skepticism about McGregor’s legitimacy. As in, if boxing’s only ever eight-division champion couldn’t rough Mayweather up, how was some loudmouthed and noodle-armed MMA fighter supposed to have a shot.

But again, even in defeat, McGregor proved all the doubters wrong. Landing 110 punches during his 10 rounds against Mayweather, McGregor outstruck Pacquiao by 29 punches. And he did it in two fewer rounds.

Conor McGregor proved the doubters wrong by holding his own against Floyd Mayweather.

Conor McGregor proved the doubters wrong by holding his own against Floyd Mayweather.

(STEVE MARCUS/REUTERS)

Sure, it’s a consolation prize at best, but the statistic speaks volumes of McGregor’s talent, athleticism, mentality, and alternative training methods. His performance is one with a massive silver lining, as he performed better than most people expected, on the biggest stage of his career, a stage he created in association with Mayweather.

For his own legacy, Mayweather also greatly benefited from the bout, beyond the reported $ 100 million purse, not to mention the multi-million dollar endorsement figures and additional revenue streams. He goes out fulfilling a promise he made to his fans, one that was dedicated to erasing the lingering nightmares of the Pacquiao bout.

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Earning his first stoppage in nearly a decade, save his controversial 2011 KO of Victor Ortiz, Mayweather gave his people exactly what they wanted: a finish.

With many feeling as though the entire sport of boxing was on trial, Mayweather put away a tough opponent using a game plan he designed with his father, Floyd Sr. And without any need for the judges’ scorecards, Mayweather cemented the end of his career with a concrete finality, making Aug. 26 one of those “do you remember where you were when” kind of moments. 

Tags:
conor mcgregor
floyd mayweather
boxing

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