The pipedream is now official - Floyd Mayweather Jr has officially returned to the world of boxing. His opponent? A man many would never have predicted to be fighting the man who retired in 2015. Conor McGregor's meteoric rise from a cocky up and comer on the dole from Ireland to one of the biggest sporting superstars in the world right now is nothing short of mesmerizing. With the date confirmed for August 26th and the bout taking place in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas - the question on every single person's mind right now, "what can we expect?"
Floyd Mayweather Jr, is quite simply one of the best boxers of his generation. With his immense boxing IQ and seemingly impenetrable defense - Mayweather has become proficient in every aspect of his craft. His ability to time his opponents and keep them at bay is second to none. Mayweather is a specialist in removing any form of rhythm from his opponents style with clever footwork alongside clever and calculated shots. Mayweather is not about flash knockouts or physically battering the man stood across from him. Floyd is about minimal risk and maximum reward - he picks his moments and gains maximum points. His style may have earned him an unfavorable image amongst fans of the sport, however, it is hard to deny that Mayweather is world class at what he does. His ability to suffer little damage has paid dividends for his career as it allowed him to continue to allow his clever movement to still be world class even at the latter stage in his career. His final two fights against Pacquiao and Berto highlighted that even when he was 38, he still hadn't lost a step. Alongside his ability to box, Floyd also had the great ability of being able to adjust to whatever was thrown at him from the opening bell. Throughout his career, Floyd has seen and dealt with it all. The most significant question for him ahead of this bout? Will a 23 month break and an unknown identity in Conor McGregor finally throw off Floyd Mayweather or will he march to the unprecedented 50th win?
Conor McGregor is simply put, a phenom in the UFC. In the MMA world, McGregor can trade hands with the best of them and rank amongst the top few in the business. His ability in the octagon is unquestionable, however, in between the ropes, Is McGregor good enough?
McGregor has got jaw shattering power - it is something we have seen time and time again. We saw it against Jose Aldo with his 13 second blitz and we saw it most recently with his crisp but still ever powerful combination against Eddie Alvarez. Though, McGregor is more than just a power punch wielding brute, we've seen he also has the ability to pick his shots and time them. Against Nate Diaz at UFC 202, McGregor used timing and placement as well as clever footwork to gain the needed points to earn a decision win against Diaz in their second bout. However, can McGregor pull off the insurmountable odds and outbox Mayweather?
The main question when talking about ability in this bout is how will a boxer who is good at boxing in MMA fare when fighting an actual boxer? A main point on this is that in MMA, fighters can throw punches from a much further distance. With MMA fighters having to consider takedowns and kicks, they will throw from a further and wider distance as fighters in the cage will not stand as close to each other as boxers do. This will be an interesting development as McGregor certainly has the reach to play with range in this bout (2 inch advantage) though, with Floyd being masterful in timing, can McGregor afford to stick to the MMA style of boxing? In doing so he has a good chance of getting caught by Floyd and thus gifting Floyd easy points.
Though, when looking at this fight from a physical stand point, McGregor reigns supreme. McGregor, 5ft 9 is an inch taller than Floyd who is 5ft 8. Alongside that, McGregor, 74 inches, has a 2 inch reach advantage over Floyd who has 72 inches of reach. Whilst his fabled left hand is a very powerful weapon for McGregor, it is worth noting that McGregor is ambidextrous. He is capable of boxing orthodox or southpaw whilst still being able to utilize his favored left straight. McGregor also is excellent at reading gaps and being able to measure his range effectively. This is one of the keys to his success in the UFC. Not only that but McGregor boasts fantastic statistics in the cage with his striking - in the octagon he lands 5.82 strikes a minute with a 47% success rate whilst absorbing 4.55 strikes per minute. He also has a defensive percentage of 57% with 7 of his 9 UFC wins ending in KO's and none of those 7 being later than round 2, it's easy to see what Conor's preferred game is.
Floyd Mayweather on the other hand boasts a significant experience advantage. 49 fights, 49 wins and 26 of those by the way of KO. In those 49 fights - he has seen 387 rounds in total. Mayweather throws on average, 36 punches per round with an average landing percentage of 34%. However, Mayweather's game isn't about hitting his opponent with power and his stats against Pacquiao showed that efficiency and limiting as well as eluding his opponent was the key to his plan. Manny managed to land only 81 of his 429 strikes attempted whilst Mayweather landed 148 of his 435. Pacquiao could not trap Mayweather to land anything which in the end is what lead Mayweather to victory.
In the case of his bout with Conor McGregor, Floyd faces a man with next to nothing to lose. Floyd has faced power punchers and he's been hit before and whilst many are pointing to Floyd's weakness to southpaw fighters, he is still undefeated. McGregor faces an extremely uphill task. He comes in as a southpaw with a lot of power but the lack of experience is what will decide this. For Conor it is all or nothing in the opening rounds, if he fails to knock Floyd out early then he will face the same fate that everyone else has against Mayweather - getting hit with jabs and pot shots to a slow and painful decision loss.