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Mayweather vs McGregor: Fight preview and matchup

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor finally end the madness on Saturday.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Media Workout Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Record: 49-0 (26 KO) ... Streak: W49 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'8" / 72" ... Age: 40

Thoughts: Floyd Mayweather hasn’t fought competitively since September 2015, when he shut down Andre Berto over 12 rounds in a tepid “farewell fight” that nobody ever really thought would be the last fight of his career. But it’s not like anyone at the time expected him to come back this way, either.

David Diamante recently told our own Steph Kent that Mayweather was fighting perhaps the worst opponent he’s ever faced in this matchup. I don’t know that that’s true. McGregor of today probably would beat Roberto Apodaca of 1996, right? I mean Apodaca was smaller, too, but you get my point, or at least part of it, and that part is small.

The greater point is you have to go deep into Mayweather’s career, to the very beginning, to find someone like McGregor on his record. By the time you get to 1998, Mayweather was fighting Genaro Hernandez. By 2001-02, it was Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao. All of those fighters have fallen well short against Floyd.

Mayweather is 40 now, but I’m not buying into age or rust being a problem. He’s known for staying in phenomenal shape all the time, not just getting into great shape when it’s time to train. He’s a master boxer, it’s something he was born into and he’s done it all his life, and he’s been exceptionally great at it.

He is the best pound-for-pound boxer of his generation, and there’s not really an argument against it. He should win this fight, and should do so handily. Frankly, he should rout and embarrass McGregor.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor Media Workout Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Record: 0-0 (0 KO) ... Streak: N/A ... Last 5: 0-0 ... Last 10: 0-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'9" / 74" ... Age: 29

Thoughts: Conor McGregor is not a professional boxer. He’s trained, and no doubt trained his ass off. He’s a terrific fighter, great in the Octagon, a multiple-weight champion, and a true superstar for UFC.

But he’s not a professional boxer, and ultimately, that is likely going to be what dooms him.

For the sake of this conversation, though, how can he win this fight? The only way, I think, is to use his weakness as a potential strength. OK, so he doesn’t likely have the subtleties and nuances of boxing down, certainly not on the level of Mayweather. He cannot outbox Floyd, and that means he can’t, in a technical sense, even put himself into position for The Big Punch.

So don’t. Be unorthodox. Wing the shots. Disrupt everything. Do nothing conventionally. Don’t let this become a “boxing match” in any real sense. As soon as it does, it’s over, either by a KO from Mayweather’s superior timing, or by a long, drawn-out decision where Mayweather toys with his opponent and plays it safe, smacking him around at will and avoiding all of McGregor’s attempts to make a charge, until McGregor no longer has the spirit or energy to make them.

Listen, I don’t think McGregor can win this fight. But his only chance is the knockout. He can punch. But this is, quite literally, a different game than he’s ever played before. If he doesn’t make this an out of control brawl, he has absolutely no hope whatsoever.

Matchup Grade: F. I mean, it is what it is. It’s the world’s best and most accomplished boxer in a boxing match against a loud guy from another sport. If you’re into spectacle, this will be one, no question. The energy in the building is going to be wild. If you’re not, then the $100 PPV price tag is a serious gamble.

Undercard

  • Nathan Cleverly vs Badou Jack: Cleverly (30-3, 16 KO) is defending a 175-pound paper title that he won when Jürgen Brähmer got injured in their fight last October. Jack (21-1-2, 12 KO) is moving up from super middleweight, where he held the WBC title and became a top player after rebounding from a disastrous loss to Derek Edwards in 2014. Both guys are solid professional fighters, but neither has ever nor will ever stalk the pound-for-pound list or anything. Both have had some good fights in the past, and this could be another one. It’s a decently-matched fight, really, but I can’t say I think it’s anything special. If this were a PBC main event, would you be excited? Matchup Grade: C+
  • Gervonta Davis vs Francisco Fonseca: Davis, 22, is a Mayweather protégé, and a very exciting young fighter. He blew through Jose Pedraza to win the IBF super featherweight title in January, and followed that up by even more easily mowing down Liam Walsh in May in his first title defense. Fonseca, 23, is an unknown, has never fought in the U.S. before. Almost all of his fights have been at home in Costa Rica, with a couple others in El Salvador and Nicaragua. BoxRec have him ranked No. 50 in the world, if you’re wondering about the sort of competition he’s faced. None of this means he can’t fight, mind you. I can’t grade this because I don’t know enough about Fonseca, but smart money is that Davis wins impressively, and that the matchmakers signed off on Fonseca for a reason: he’s not a threat.
  • Andrew Tabiti vs Steve Cunningham: First off, it’s nice to see a cruiserweight fight on a pay-per-view card. Tabiti (14-0, 12 KO) can be fun to watch, has punching power, and appears on the way up in the division. But do not count out the 41-year-old Cunningham (29-8-1, 13 KO), either. He’s a crafty, well-traveled veteran and still knows his way around the ring. If anything beats Cunningham, it will probably be the power of Tabiti, but let’s not forget that as recently as 2016, Cunningham was competitive in a world title fight, and Tabiti has not proven to be on the level of a Krzysztof Glowacki just yet. Matchup Grade: C+
  • Yordenis Ugas vs Thomas Dulorme: This will headline the FOX prelims before the pay-per-view. Ugas (19-3, 9 KO) suffered his first upset defeat back in 2012 against Johnny Garcia, which took the wind out of his prospect sails. And when he lost back-to-back fights to Emmanuel Robles and Amir Imam in 2014, he seemed just about done. But since last August, he’s gone on a tear. He took the “0” from both Jamal James and Bryant Perrella, and has beaten Levan Ghvamichava and Nelson Lara this year, in February and April. Dulorme (24-2, 16 KO) is another former prospect, once highly-regarded, who was beaten by Luis Carlos Abregu in 2012, and then by Terence Crawford in 2015. Who’s to say he might not go on his own comeback run, though? Ugas is replacing Shawn Porter, but honestly I think that makes for a more interesting fight, even if it doesn’t have a world level contender now. Matchup Grade: C+
  • Juan Heraldez vs Jose Miguel Borrego: A prospect versus prospect matchup, also on the FOX card. Heraldez (12-0, 8 KO) is 27 and pretty untested — Borrego is the guy you’re tuning in to see here. At 19, he’s 13-0 (12 KO) and has put himself on the radar at 140 pounds. He might be something special. This could be a case of “I remember seeing him when.”

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