The juggernaut fight everyone wants to see is finally happening, no more talk. Superstars in their respective sports, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are set to rumble in the battle of the century on August 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where else?
Almost everyone has stated Floyd is the clear favorite and “will not lose.” The Vegas odds currently show (-1100) for Floyd and (+700) for Conor. This means you would bet $1100 to only win $100 for Floyd, or you would bet $100 to win $700 for Conor. Thus Conor is more of the long shot and Floyd is the favorite.
Many analysts, including Stephen A. Smith (the biggest mouth in sports TV) and Teddy Atlas (who once threatened Mike Tyson with a gun to his ear) have stated McGregor has a zero chance, that he should either pay off the lighting technician during the fight for an unscrupulous cheap shot or just ensure he confirms with his accountant that his paycheck is in his bank account.
However, the odds from the people who put their money where their mouth is doesn’t seem to think its a sure thing. Yes, -1100/+700 are pretty high odds, but it is parsecs away from what can be considered “a sure thing.” Holly Holm had odds up to +1250 for the match where she knocked off Ronda Rousey. The Jets vs the Colts was at +1000. Buster Douglas was at +4200 in the infamous fight against Mike Tyson. First round tennis odds when Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams were in their prime regularly posted odds over +10,000 (yes, ten thousand) and upsets there happen at least a couple of times a year.
So compared to the reality, +700, or essentially 7:1 odds, seems mighty conservative for a match where the underdog has “no chance.” Of course there is a whole business world behind Vegas as they try to manipulate numbers and increase their final profits after the fight is over, but at this point, the media analysis and the actual numbers do not match. Why?
Most of the analysts we hear from are traditionally inclined to favor boxing from their backgrounds and from the fact that the UFC is a relatively new sports in comparison. No boxing analyst will come out and say Conor can just waltz into the boxing world and take down their prized Hall of Fame champion. However, here are some points to consider as to why the “smart” money should go to McGregor. “Smart” means which fighter would a professional betting man favoring long term betting results put their money down on regardless if they win this particular bet or not.
- AGE: Mayweather is 40 years old, McGregor is 28. Does age matter in fighting? EVERYONE knows that answer. However, the real question is, HOW MUCH does it matter? Fighting is a sport where every angstrom of athletic and mental ability is tested for very short periods of time. This is not a marathon jog. Age matters more here than most sports, especially in the middle to light weight classes. Also, this is not a difference of 1-2-3 years, it is a difference of 12, from a fighter in the twilight of his career to another that is in his prime.
- EXPERIENCE: No one is arguing this point, and hence, this is Floyd’s biggest advantage. But does experience matter in boxing? This factor is probably more significant than a few of the other factors here combined, just ask any fighter. However, is experience EVERYTHING? Not even close, or else every older fighter that has been longer in the business should beat every younger fighter. But the result is still clear as day.
- COACHING: Mayweather has had some good coaches. Even in an individual sport like boxing, you do not get to where he is by bad or average coaching, nor is he the personality to surround himself with idiots. However, Conor has just as much, if not more, motivation right now to compete and beat Floyd. He will not be telling his coaches “Give me just enough so I don’t get embarrassed.” If he could, he will learn to fight smart and to rip Floyd’s head off and prove everyone wrong. This means he will do everything in his power to surround himself with winners and people in the know about Floyd’s style, boxing, fighting, psychology, training and more. He clearly has the pull and resources to get the right people in his corner. Will this alone be enough? No… but will it add to Conor’s disadvantage? Not really. Longevity with one coach in sports is not always resulting in the highest percentage of success, as proved by tennis coaches (Moya with Nadal), NBA coaches (Kerr with Warriors), and many more. In fact many times those relationships get stale and therefore, new coaches come in all the time to catapult the team/player to quick success.
- PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: McGregor is 1″ taller (5’9″ vs 5’8″) and has 2″ longer reach (74″ vs 72″). It is logical that because of Conor’s age, his quickness and mobility should be better than Mayweather. Strength does not decrease as much in older males so that is a non-factor although Conor hits slightly harder in theory than Floyd. As far as overall athletic ability, it is impossible to judge an advantage except again, age has to come into play with this component as well. So in this category, the only weakness that Conor might have is the fact that his body has not been trained extensively to react and move instinctively to pure boxing moves as much as Floyd’s training and experience has led him. That draws Floyd much closer, but not all the way.
- PSYCHOLOGY: One thing Mayweather knows is boxing, in and out, the games, the tricks, the moves, the way to win. At this point even with all the coaching, when the heat is on, the true test is whether Conor will have a game plan he can trust, and then execute consistently every single second for the whole fight. His lack of mental toughness in a boxing match will hurt him here, as well as the absence of real knowledge that boxers gain only from boxing title fights. He may spar from now until August, but that will all change when he gets hit in the mouth the first time in the real thing at a speed he has not yet experienced in a boxing ring. However as a fighter, he will have a solid and aggressive mentality that will allow him to continue even at less than 100%, which will be to his advantage. However, Floyd has too much in boxing intelligence and experience here for anything Conor learns to bother him.
- PREDICTION: At the end of the day, this would be a different result if Mayweather fights McGregor 3-4 years from today. Athletes degrade a lot more quickly after the age of 40 in every sport. However, Floyd is on the precipice of maintaining his greatness just enough to put down even a top younger fighter from MMA. His experience and mental toughness for boxing will overcome any slight physical advantage Conor has. Mayweather will wear down McGregor as he defends like he always does, and McGregor expends too much energy attacking, and thus will take some damaging blows in the later rounds. The only chance Conor might have to win this is to strengthen his legs more than any fighter ever has, be in a better shape than any boxer in history, work on his defense, and bully Floyd around the ring with his body, while not taking any damaging hits, and hope that one of his blows lands while Floyd struggles to maintain his balance. The fight will last longer than most think because at the end of the day, Floyd’s primary goal is to win, not showboat and knock Conor out at the risk of taking a lucky shot to his face. He will fatigue Conor, and Conor will also take his time trying to fight smart. Conor will take hits but he will not be hurt by them much with those padded 10oz gloves. However, all the counter hits he takes will take their toll in the late round and eventually take hits he will not be able to recover from and the fight will be stopped because Conor will not want to stay down.
WINNER: MAYWEATHER (TKO RD 9)