Floyd Mayweather wins, Conor McGregor too, as boxing loses some more ground

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Aug 28, 2017 05:52 PM IST

Floyd Mayweather’s 10th round TKO of Conor McGregor in the super fight in Las Vegas gave him a 50-0 career record, but despite raising a lot of money for both boxers, the bout has perhaps damaged boxing’s credibility

Floyd Mayweather Jr. stops Conor McGregor in the tenth round of the super fight. A TKO! Sigh... boxing wins, survives another salvo from that ever-arrogant, millennial-driven, mixed martial arts (MMA) world and fanbase, particularly the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Actually, NO! (Mayweather vs McGregor HIGHLIGHTS)

Floyd Mayweather (R) needed 10 rounds to beat Conor McGregor in their super fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night.(AFP)
Floyd Mayweather (R) needed 10 rounds to beat Conor McGregor in their super fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night.(AFP)

Boxing great and pound-for-pound champ Mayweather’s victory in Las Vegas, which extended his undefeated career record to 50-0, has added more grey into the credibility of the sport that’s starved of good matchups and worthy champions. On the other side of the fence, MMA, the UFC and McGregor walk away -- slightly wobbly from the punches of course -- with a larger-than-Octagon reach and publicity, not to mention the money.

“Thank you, sir.” Perhaps that’s what the unspoken underlying emotion was when a less arrogant and shaken McGregor shouted into Mayweather’s ears after the bout: “That was too good, too good,” he said.

What was too good, one can’t help but wonder! Perhaps, the way they took fight fans for a ride.

All that buzz

The fuss and buzz around the ‘Fight of the Millennium’ reminded one of the golden era of boxing -- something on the lines of a Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier, or a Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran. At least, the jabs and wild hooks (all verbal) were reminiscent of the great rivalries of yore.

However, boxing purists almost unanimously saw through the facade, while the MMA world was blinded by its sense of superiority about the fighting forms and thought that this would seal the credentials of one of their best champions.

Money poured in, the hype rose, but when the first round began at the T-Mobile Arena, it was clear that the less-aggressive McGregor was out of his comfort zone.

Though in the opening rounds, the 29-year-old UFC champion looked confident, by the fourth, his stance and composure was shaken -- not by the 40-year-old Mayweather’s punches, but by the simple fact that the physical dynamics of boxing is different.

Team McGregor didn’t realise (or they probably did and couldn’t do anything about it) that boxing requires the explosiveness in bursts, while endurance to go through 12 rounds -- pacing oneself -- is a prerequisite. Especially when facing a seasoned pugilist.

There is a reason why pro boxers take time and slowly graduate from a four-round debut to 12 rounds, over the course of eight to 10 bouts in the initial part of their career.

Remember Vijender Singh’s progress. He now fights 10-rounders and he reached there via nine bouts. Just before his debut fight, Vijender’s trainer Lee Beard had explained how the focus was to slowly build the Indian’s career as well as his fighting tempo to ultimately make him a pro fighter who can go the distance (12 rounds being the big league norm).

McGregor, despite his exploits in the UFC, is an amateur boxer at best, and was making his debut in a 12-rounder. That is a boxing sin!

Everyone knew, probably the fighters too, how this one was going to end.

Victory for MMA

While we frown at the farce that played out in Las Vegas, the whole episode has given some positive PR for MMA. So much so, that MMA fighters across the globe, including those in India, think McGregor’s adventure is a turning point in their sport’s history.

They are even dreaming of the Olympics.

“Amateur MMA could be part of the Olympics in the future,” says Nelson Paes, one of India’s top MMA fighters. “There has been talk of that and I am sure in the future, the MMA promotions would unify to try and push for it. And McGregor would be a big figure in that. He is our sport’s biggest brand ambassador, and he has just gotten bigger after the super fight.”

Olympic inclusion is a long shot, but is not impossible at all. After all, the Olympic movement is in a constant effort to reinvent itself to remain relevant, unlike boxing, if one may add.

And part of that reinvention revolves around appealing to the masses, ability to generate revenue and traction in all forms of media, including social. MMA ticks all the right boxes.

And so Mayweather, with his victory, may go down in history not just with a perfect record and as one of the sport’s beautiful artistes, but also as its worst ambassador. Meanwhile, McGregor seems destined for a larger-than-life legacy.


    Leslie Xavier is a former national wrestler, judoka and karate champion. He has been a sports journalist for more than a decade and writes on Olympic disciplines and motorsport.

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