Conor McGregor became the third highest paid boxer of all time last weekend despite the fact the Irishman had never laced up a pair of professional boxing gloves.
‘The Notorioius’ made the shrewd move from his lofty perch as the king of UFC to take on the best pugilist of a generation, and potentially more, in the majestic Floyd Mayweather.
Despite massive calls for McGregor to test himself in the squared circle against a top contender before Mayweather, the 29 year-old knew he just couldn’t take the risk of fans seeing his awkward style beforehand.
Pay-Per-View buys, which are projected to hit over 5 million, would have suffered greatly as it was apparent McGregor failed to come to grips with the upright boxing traits – even after months of training.
From his wide stance to consistently hitting Floyd on the back of the head, McGregor struggled to stop punching as referee Robert Byrd said break and was lucky to not have a point taken off.
Byrd must have been briefed to be leanient beforehand as McGregor made foul after foul – round after round, sometimes without even a warning from the experienced official.
Landing on Mayweather on a regular basis in the first three rounds saw McGregor gain great credit, although the ‘Money’ man admitted afterwards he used (similar to) Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope tactics to take the steam out of his opponent.
The blueprint adopted worked perfectly as McGregor was spent after four rounds, despite being ahead on the World Boxing News live scorecard at the time.
It was just a matter of waiting for Mayweather from the fifth round onwards as punches which would never affect the top welterweights or super-welterweights of boxing, hit their mark and sapped ounces of energy out of McGregor with every blow.
In the end, Mayweather scored the stoppage he promised as Byrd rightly jumped in to save McGregor from what would have been a sickening knockout if allowed to continue.
McGregor now seems likely to head back to the octagon for his next fight as ex-sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi continues to offer the two-weight UFC title holder a second boxing bout.
The Italian-American does seem like an ideal opponent for McGregor due to his lack of power and the needle between the pair from their training sessions, but whether Showtime could sell the encounter as a mammoth PPV event would be yet another topic for debate.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay