So the biggest fight in combat sports history (until the next one) took place on Saturday night. I thought I should wait a while before reviewing it, partly due to sleep deprivation and also the need to rewatch it.
Upon first viewing there were a few things made clear. Firstly that McGregor got in there with tbe and presented a puzzle that Floyd took longer to figure out than anyone thought he would. Remember, all of the boxing pundits and boxers of all levels where adamant that not a glove would be landed on Floyd. Conor would be dismantled and knocked out very early in the fight. That MMA would be made look foolish.
In reality, none of that happened.
The second viewing was a little bit easier and it was viewing at 2pm on a Tuesday instead of 5am on a Sunday morning. We all know that once the night goes past 2am we will not remember anything.
In the first round, after all the promises by Floyd that he would come forward and engage, he did exactly what everyone expected. He went into defence immediately. He saw Conor marching towards him and took a sharp turn to his right and into the ropes. He wanted to see what the UFC champion was all about. He had heard about the power, and when it came down to the crunch, he didn’t want to take a change on it. He shelled up as he does and invited McGregor on. Conor landed some jabs, some body shots and moved around like a karate black belt. Mayweather was falling for the feints early on, he was backed into the corner and the awkward McGregor was looking like a seasoned pro as opposed to an 0-0 boxer. It was fantastic to see. The veteran was trying to work out the puzzle while the first timer was presenting problems. 6 punches thrown by Floyd in R1 and Conor immediately showed his class, the highlight being a left uppercut that showed he could put his hands on Floyd. The 2 fighters spent the last 40 seconds in the pocket trying to work each other out. R1 Conor.
Immediately, a lot of bookmakers where out of money on the bet that Conor wouldn’t win a round or hit Floyd.
The only worry I had on first viewing was that after the initial uppercut Floyd appeared to realise that the MMA power that Conor obviously has, didn’t appear to translate into boxing.
In round 2, Floyd retreated again immediately; the difference from R1 was that after the opening barrage, he began moving forward. A rare thing for tbe. While coming forward he was getting hit. Already he was being hit more that the opening rounds of the last 10 fights. Was it his age? At 41 was he going to be able to keep it up?
Round 2 was much closer the output increased from Floyd, but he didn’t hit any power shots, a few nice rights to the body but in doing so was jabbed at will from McGregor. The turning his back on the opponent started from this round and would continue for the remainder of the fight. This slows the fight down and means he can’t be hit.
Floyd in the corner was calm as ever, he felt good. McGregor also looked calm while listening to instructions.
Round 3 was the same, Floyd retreating into the corner and then slowly coming out and moving forward. He was lowering the head and employing some cheeky veteran tricks to draw the foul from Conor. Another warning from the ref who has been good so far. Conor began throwing to the body; the switch stance was getting to Floyd. He had more angles than a compass and the plan to figure out Conor and drown him in the latter rounds was taking longer than expected. Both fighters looked fresh and Conor’s output was massive here. Keeping that jab out to keep Floyd at bay.
Now, towards the end of the round, Conor started looking tired. He had 3 rounds in the bank, but the massive amounts of movement looked to be causing the gas tank to be depleted.
Round 4 started the same way, Floyd retreating with Conor picking some good shots. Not overly affective but scoring points. The first trade of the fight was a minute into this round. It was great to see him get into a fight for the first time in decades. Conor was energetic enough to keep up and keep it awkward, but the body shots from Floyd where a thing of beauty. The last minute of the round was Conor in reverse while keeping the output high but Floyd was beginning to absorb the punches and fire back the odd body shot. He looked strong in the clinch which I thought might be Conor’s domain.
For me, I thought Conor would have his advantage at distance and in the clinch. He was doing well with the jab but this was Floyd’s first round of the fight. 3-1`. He was still very uncomfortable but was begining to put the plan in affect.
R5 and both fighters stay in centre ring and begin to work hard. Both fighters using some fantastic awkward movement, both landing shots and neither doing damage early. Floyd using his forearms in the clinch to try and show he is here to fight. Again, this was great to see. He was being forced into fighting as opposed to countering by the awkward southpaw. Anytime the referee broke them up Floyd went straight back in, to absorb punishment and tire Conor. This was a close round, Conor doing the boxing with Floyd using the roughhouse tactics.
The round ends with a shove from Floyd which I took as frustration which was a positive for Conor. But it appears that he said something about Conor saying Floyd would be KOd by now. The ref warned Floyd about the dipping of the head, Conor’s corner is talking about the second wind, and this is before the first half of the fight is over.
Round 6 kicks off. The gas tank is a massive issue. Floyd is turning his back again a way of avoiding contact and bringing the ref into the fight. All tricks from a 50 fight boxer. Floyd is coming into the fight and landing a lot of jumping right hands, the tide is turning. The power that Conor has in the 4oz gloves isn’t here in boxing. Floyd is getting hit almost at will, but there is no damage being done. The body shots are taking affect. Conor is getting half a step slower, the crowd are massive and are keeping him going. Floyds round. 4-2 in the 0-0 boxers favour.
Floyd is coming back in, but he is still being picked off. There is no damage bring done by Conor, but if it goes 12 then the early rounds could be the difference.
Round 7 and both fighters meet in the middle, Conor’s hands are still working well, but there is not a lot of power there. Floyd looks to be more powerful at this point. Cono0rs movement is slowing, he is still working but no switch steps, it is becoming stationary. Floyd using the rough tactics is something that was unexpected again. Forearm is up very high in the clinch. With a minute to go Floyd is showing class and putting punches together to take over the round and nearly the fight. Conor is still punching and still in the fight but the game plan is starting to take over. Deep waters with added pressure is getting to be tough. Copnor leans on the ropes at the end of the round. Another one for Floyd. 4-3
Round 8 and they begin with Floyd turning his back again. Conor looks a bit more energetic here and landing a lot of shots early. Floyd swinging the odd time but he is playing the pressure game, moving forward to take the energy from Conor. He isn’t landing much early, and is taking a lot of shots that score points. Half way through the round and Floyd is getting closer and landing more regularly. He is being hit more in this fight so far than most of his 49 previous opponents. 1 minute to go and Floyd is still not doing much. Conor is very tired now, still throwing but it is instinct at this stage. He finishes well and wins the round. 5-3 to Conor by my card on both viewings.
Floyd looking calm in the corner but he has been trying to win the fight in the last couple of rounds and is still being confused. A lot of chat in the McGregor corner. Kavanagh speaking more than previous rounds. Pressure showing everywhere.
Round 9 and Conor opens with a great body shot that backs up Floyd to the corner, Floyd turns around again and the advantage is completely gone. Conor still throwing and it is all heart at this stage. Conor beginning to use the clinch to take a big breath but Floyd is taking over with a minute gone. Similar to the two Diaz fights, Conor is trying to get that second wind. Trying to clinch, but there isn’t the experience there to use the seconds up. It is all guts at this stage keeping him in the fight, leaning against the ropes. Such bravery, still throwing but the lactic acid is building up. Floyd is going for it with 30 seconds left. Conor STILL throwing! Floyd can’t put him down. Amazing stuff. For all the naysayers, Floyd is trying to finish but he can’t! This could be a 10-8 for Floyd.
Kavanagh starts with a ‘calm down calm down’ in the corner. Conor is told to clinch in the next round to get the energy back. He had nothing left at the end of the 9th and needs more than a minutes rest.
10th round, Conor is trying hard but it looks like the nightmares we all have when we are being chased but we can’t move fast enough. He is still throwing but Floyd’s body shots are really a thing of perfection. With 2 minutes left Floyd is like a shark chasing a seal. Just too many shots for Conor to take. The ref makes the right decision.
That was my take on the fight from first and second viewing. The more obvious part of the second viewing was how classy Floyd was when he began feeling that Conor was losing a step. The body shots added up.
The show of class between the 2 fighters after the fight was what sport is all about. After all the vulgarity and macho posing, they went to war and shook hands afterwards. Yes that is easier to do when you are sharing $600million.
Upon reflection, Conor was immense. He took rounds on tbe. People say that Floyd gave them up, but no boxer gets in there and allows themselves to get hit. He had no idea how hard Conor hits until he is in there, so to say he was allowing punches to connect is asinine. It also undermines the fantastic work Conor did of confusing a boxing great.
The referee was near perfect throughout. No one wants to see a fighter take unnecessary punishment and the referee gave Conor 2 chances to fight back. Live to fight another day.
Both fighters came out of this far better than going in. Conor is now worth multiples of his previous UFC fight. Floyd finishes much stronger than opponent 49.
This was my scoring of the fight which was the same both times I watched. The judge’s ringside scored it 89-81, 89-82, 87-83. Which is just insane. You cannot win a round by doing nothing. But Nevada will always back the cash cow. At the end of the day the scores don’t matter after the TKO, but I don’t think the brilliance of this McGregor performance won’t be seen for years. He stepped in there with the greatest boxer of this generation, confused him and forced him into fighting in a way he hasn’t in decades.
That and the hundreds of millions will help him sleep at night.
As always, @nkeegan is where you can find me to debate, discuss and challenge.