LAS VEGAS — So much money, so much hype, and in the end Conor McGregor lost the fight and probably won the night.
The great boxing odyssey ended in the 10th round, with McGregor out of gas, Floyd Mayweather throwing lefts and rights, and referee Robert Byrd stepped in and stopped the bout as he should have.
This wasn’t anything anyone expected — a more competitive fight with McGregor boxing for the very first time against an undefeated multi-time champion. Mayweather threw 14 consecutive punches in the 10th round before Byrd did the right thing and stopped the 154-pound fight.
But to start, the mixed martial arts champion McGregor was more than game. He stood in with the great Mayweather, winning the early rounds, carrying the fight as Mayweather did what he always does — waits, sizes up his opponent, times the man opposite then.
And then he takes over.
McGregor looked to be in trouble in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds before losing in the 10th. The Toronto Sun had Mayweather winning seven of the 10 rounds. The bout was stopped at 1:05.
Mayweather is now 50-0 as a professional and unlikely to ever fight again.
McGregor, suddenly more sellable, is 0-1 as a professional.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he was. He’s a tough competitor,” said Mayweather. “Our game plan was to take our time.”
He executed that to near perfection, as he has managed throughout most of his career. “After 25 minutes, he started to slow down,” said Mayweather.
“I guaranteed everyone this wouldn’t go the distance. Boxing is a helluva sport. MMA is a helluva sport.”
The end was a tutorial by Mayweather. The beginning, though, the early rounds, were all McGregor, at least as the aggressor. He threw a lot of punches, missed a lot of punches, and looked more the boxer than anyone could have expected.
“This is my last fight, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, I chose the right dance partner to dance with.”
McGregor walked to the ring, an Irish flag adorning his shoulders, surrounded by security while everyone stood at the TMobile Arena in surprisingly understated noise. The popularity McGregor had at Friday’s weigh-in was not as apparent on his early Sunday morning walk to the ring.
Mayweather walked to the ring, all dressed in black, wearing a ski mask on and a hood covering a baseball cap that read TBE — The best ever. Clearly, Mayweather was prepared for some kind of robbery.
The topsy turvey nature of the fight — and frankly the lack of knowledge of what the popular McGregor would bring — had bets going in all directions at the local betting houses. Mayweather opened as a huge favour and the odds in some casinos dropped to 1-4 by Saturday night. More than $70 million was wagered on this fight as of Friday night and 92% of those bets came in on McGregor. The majority of the money, though, came in on Mayweather.
The average McGregor bet, $200. The average Mayweather bet, in the $8,000 range.
In Vegas Friday night, the cost of seeing the fight on a big-screen television in bars and casino establishments ranged in price from $150 to $300. But as of Saturday night, there were still 1,700 tickets available at T-Mobile, all those available for $1,200 a seat and up.
The fight promoter, Mayweather Promotions, Floyd’s own company, clearly overpriced the event, over-estimating the price point that would ensure a sellout.
The pay-per-view card came on at 9 p.m EST. There were just a few hundred fans in the building at that time … As the building began to fill up, so arrived the usual array of celebrities, who decided to take the fight in live. Among them, actors Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Jamie Foxx, Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie. Also in attendance: LeBron James, Jerome Bettis, Cal Ripken, Evander Holyfield, Thomas Hearns, Alex Rodriguez, and Toronto’s own, Tie Domi, a fighter in his own right … Tweet of the night, courtesy of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights: “A massive crowd is starting to form outside of @TMobileArena. We appreciate this excitement, but our first game here isn’t for another month!” … On the undercard, Badou Jack moved up to light heavyweight and dominated WBA champion, Nathan Cleverly, breaking his nose en route to a five round stoppage. The bout prior to the main event, Gervonta Davis, who failed to make weight in the featherweight division, knocked out Francisco Fonseca in controversial fashion. Davis punched Fonseca after he was pushed down. The referee, Russell Mora, never saw the punch. It probably could have ended in disqualification.