By Ethan Ticehurst ’18
Fight fans all across the nation were treated to a truly entertaining grudge match this Saturday night, when Floyd Mayweather returned from retirement to silence a challenger, Conor McGregor. At least, if they had $100 they were.
In the most hyped fight in the history of boxing, Mayweather put his perfect record on the line against McGregor, best known for holding a championship belt in two different weight classes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the same time.
This fight has been years in the making. Throughout his monumental rise to UFC superstardom, McGregor has consistently insulted Mayweather’s legacy and has called him out repeatedly, despite never having boxed professionally.
After hearing these insults again and again, Mayweather finally announced last year that he was willing to come out of retirement to fight McGregor. After a year’s worth of negotiating, the UFC and Mayweather finally signed a deal to allow McGregor to box. With a date set, a massive media storm was set off, consuming the lives of both boxers for the next few months, which we now know culminated in a Mayweather victory by technical knockout on Saturday.
In the biggest fight since the 1975 Thrilla in Manila, both Mayweather and McGregor started out strong with McGregor landing just few more punches in the first three rounds. But, as the rounds went by, the Irishman started to fade quickly, and was eventually beaten by his own lack of endurance in the ring.
To committed UFC fans, it was not much of a surprise given the fact that most of his fights with UFC have lasted less than 20 minutes, while the match on Saturday lasted well past 30 minutes. Ironically, the likely reason for McGregor’s lack of endurance is his penchant for knocking out his opponents so quickly in the past.
In the later rounds, his exhaustion was showing, as Mayweather slowly backed him into a corner and landed punch after punch, eventually forcing the referee to step in and end what had become an entirely one-sided affair.
The biggest storyline from this fight may not have been the fight itself, however. For what many people were calling the Fight of the Century, there was also the Payout of the Century. Mayweather was guaranteed at least $100 million for being a part of the fight, while McGregor earned a smaller, but still quite large $30 million. With the money earned from the fight, Mayweather has joined an elite club of sports figures. He has now joined Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan as the only athletes to earn over a billion dollars in their careers. McGregor is nowhere near that point yet in his career, but $30 million is a good start toward joining that club if he ever wants to.
This fight was most likely the most watched fight in the history of combat sports, shattering pay-per-view records and causing sports networks to talk about nothing else for days on end. Those who watched live were watching history in the making, not only because Mayweather managed to break the record for most wins without a loss, getting his 50th win and breaking Rocky Marciano’s record of 49. This was one of those shared sports moments, a time when all of us were watching the same thing, a collective memory that connects all sports fans. This fight will be talked about for years to come.
The biggest winners of the fight, other than Mayweather, were combat sports as a whole. It is speculated that the sport of boxing and the UFC will get a huge bump in their ratings in the future after Saturday. This match was a huge win for the industry as a whole because it showed just how much of a moneymaker combat sports can be.
A significant contributer to the high payout and increased publicity of the fight, was the pre-fight tour that included four press conferences. The press conferences took place in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn, and London. The geographic diversity of the tour and the social media frenzy that followed each encounter played a substaintial hand in the massive payout of the fight.
Much of the success of the press conferences in generating excitement for the fight came from McGregor’s fearlessness in landing verbal jabs, while Mayweather’s success in the ring is derived from his ability to land literal jabs.
According to Bloody Elbow, a MMA and UFC news source, Mayweather landed 31 percent of his jabs compared to McGregor’s 28 percent. Yet, more significantly, Mayweather found success in 58 percent of his power punches, while McGregor only connected on 25 percent of his. This fight was an example of experience triumphing over youth as 40-year-old, undefeated Mayweather dominated 29 year old, first time boxer McGregor.mayweather-mcgregor-2iumoqo