So we are in the middle of fight week, the biggest fight in the history of sport (until the next one) is nearly upon us. Much like everyone everywhere, I have my opinions. Here they are, and open to challenge.
Firstly, looking at the fight being made official. I was surprised. I thought Floyd would come out of retirement to complete the 50 unbeaten run and then he would retire. Much like when a band leaves the stage waiting for applause before the encore, I thought Floyd was going to do the same thing he has always done. That being pick a manageable opponent who would pose minimal risk with maximum return. Good business followed by retirement for real.
Then word started rumbling about Conor McGregor, the biggest name in MMA history, and Floyd was going to happen. The contract negotiations moved quickly and with the spectre of Triple G v Canelo booked for the same arena in September they had to move quick to get the same venue. It all happened and the word got out. Immediately the boxing community lashed out saying it would be a fight, saying that if the best of this generation couldn’t put a glove on the TBE, how would a 0-0 fighter be able to do so?
And here we go with my thoughts.
This fight can be broken down into a few points. Punch power/precision, skill, boxing intelligence, movement, mind games and experience. Let’s go through these one by one (while I try to keep my green tinged glasses off):
Punch Power: Floyd has never been known as a KO puncher, a 1 punch knockout artist. He is a fighter who chops up the body and stings with jabs more than power, his precision is scary. His last KO was Ricky Hatton in 2007. Officially he knocked out Victor Ortiz in 2011, but to anyone who saw that fight it was not a KO. Conor on the other hand has pure, natural KO power mixed with precision. Any knockout McGregor has had in his career has involved some fantastic pin point accurate shot making and taking.
Conor has the 1 punch power that eludes Floyd.
Skill: This is 1 of the massive disparities in this fight. Going into the top level boxing world is new for Conor. While he may be training his boxing during all of the MMA camps, because he has more to cover during his ‘day job’, he hasn’t been able to concentrate on the markets of Queensbury rules exclusively until this fight was signed. Floyd on the other hand, has been training and boxing since the age of 4. He has been trained by 2 great trainers in his father and uncle, both coaches found a style that worked for him and a style that no boxer (I repeat BOXER) has been able to solve the puzzle.
In boxing, Floyd has the edge in skill; much Conor would if this was under the MMA ruleset.
Boxing intelligence: Now we get into the interesting stuff. Boxing intelligence. I think this is level and I will tell you why. When Floyd is boxing a boxer, he is on a different level. He moves faster he twitches fast he makes opponents make mistakes. He is the greatest at that. He is great at reading boxers movements and applying his style to it to win, usually by decision. But Floyd isn’t in there with a boxer. Conor is not a boxer. He will move differently to anyone Floyd has been in the ring with, anyone Floyd has sparred with and anyone he has seen. Usually it takes Floyd a few rounds to figure out the opponent’s movement. This may take him a bit longer which opens up time for Conor to find Floyds chin. If Conor comes out in a karate point’s stance, Floyds head will be melted. Millions of people think Floyd has the edge, but for me, it is Conor. He has movement that Floyd has never seen.
Mind Games: This is the closest point. This is the one that is attached the ego of both fighters. Floyd is used to having his way with opponents; he has most of his fights won before he gets near the ring. And Conor is the same with his opponents. This is very interesting. Neither fighter is used to being talked to the way they were talked to during the world tour. The weigh ins and face off will be more of the same. The world tour showed that Conor was able to go word for word with the untouchable Floyd. Both where rattled at different points, but Conor was the one who put his hands on Floyd. Not the other way around. Floyd avoided eye contact when he was delivering the verbals whereas Conor was steely eyed throughout.
Mind games won’t count for much if the fight goes long. If Floyd is looking at Conor from round 6 on then everything he has said, everything Conor has said will come back into his head louder than ever before. He will ask himself questions and he may melt.
The mind games are a draw.
So with those points, how will the fight go?
Floyd has said he will go forward, but we all know that will not happen. They will meet in the middle of the ring and Floyd will step back into his defensive stance. He will see the size of Conor and will revert to type. He does this while trying to figure out opponents before putting his own plan into effect. The boxing fraternity doesn’t believe Conor will lay a glove on Floyd, but he will in round 1. I believe that Conor comes out in a caricature karate stance with his hands at chest level, he will befuddle Floyd and get at least 1 good shot in in round one. This will bring Floyd forward towards the end of the round where he will tag Conor before getting hit with a left at the end of the round.
Boxing is Floyd’s game. He is the one who has all of the cards; he will take 4 rounds to figure out Conor. The fight will really start at that point. It is all about what plan B the McGregor camp has. Once Floyd has his radar tuned into Conor, Conor needs to switch it up. If he and the team can do that and keeps Floyd guessing I think he can knock him out.
My head says Floyd, my heart says Conor. I do think it goes 12 rounds. I think Floyd tires unlike ever before due to his age and the pressure that Conor will put in him.
Floyd by majority decision, but I would be deliriously happy if Conor was able to get his hands on him and knock out TBE.
Either way, they have my money. Do let me know your opinions, @nkeegan on the twitter.