FLOYD MAYWEATHER VS. CONOR MCGREGOR PRIMER: Monson’s preview and prediction for the big fight

BY ANDY MONSON, MMATorch Contributor

Floyd Mayweather, Dana White, Conor McGregor (photo credit Gary A. Vasquez @ USA Today)

Floyd Mayweather is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of his generation, a defensive mastermind who found a way to beat the business model of boxing (long designed to make others wealthy at the expense of the fighters) making his name itself synonymous with “money.” Conor McGregor’s path bears some parallels, as he has defied expectations by becoming a two-division champion and compelling the UFC, an organization well known for its general unwillingness to compromise, to bend to his business and promotional will.

They will be stepping into a ring together for the primary purpose of helping one another increase their already exorbitant wealth, lacing up eight-ounce boxing gloves, and competing in a sanctioned bout of fisticuffs in the process.

Mayweather weighed in at 149.5 lbs, comfortably under the 154 lb limit. McGregor comes in slightly heavier at 153 lbs.

After watching the extensive tape on McGregor’s boxing career and analyzing Mayweather’s forays into point karate competition and submission grappling, some observations may be gleaned as to how their fight may play out.

Much speculation about Conor’s chances revolves around his straight left and whether or not Floyd will crumble if it lands. What much of this fails to consider is that McGregor’s kicking game acts as a deterrent against the go-to boxing defense against a rear-hand straight: Slipping outside or weaving under. When he establishes his left kick to the body or head, ducking or slipping to one’s own right side to avoid the straight left becomes much less appealing due to the possibility of catching a shin to the face for your trouble.

McGregor’s stance in MMA has typically been heavily bladed, almost completely side-on in some instances. While this approach makes it challenging for him to throw a meaningful right hook, he compensates with spinning back kicks or wheel kicks to the body and head to create the same danger if one tries escaping the other way. He does, however, use his right hand to throw lead uppercuts quite nicely, often pairing it with a slip to his right to accomplish the dual purposes of defense and momentum. The fabled left hand works best for him when he can use the distance provided by his kicks to convince his opponent to chase him, angling out to his left while throwing the straight and allowing his man to run into it.

It is this mastery of distance and angles that have many hooked on the idea of Conor being able to present Floyd with something he has never seen before. But when considering that the efficacy of his legendary left depends largely upon pairing it with his kicking game, one must question how well this aptitude will translate to a contest where kicking is not allowed.

Floyd Mayweather has amassed a flawless record (as well as polarizing opinions amongst fans) for his astounding ability to win matches by adhering to the adage “Hit, and don’t get hit.” Left arm laced across the belly, right hand tight to the jaw, he dons a suit of armor in the ring, rolling blows off his shoulders and parrying southpaw jabs with his elbows before pot-shotting his foes with short straight rights. His check hooks are superb when he plays the matador against aggressive forward movement.

Against lefties, he is happy to lead with the straight right before exiting to his own right side or falling into a clinch, which brings up another facet of Mayweather’s game: He is perhaps the best at playing the game. He will hold and smother an opponent and push down on the head in the clinch when they try to land, turning high-output offensive fighters into fistic conservatives and tuckering them out in the process. When someone tries to wrestle him in return, he will start hitting again or use his left arm to cross face, push, and throw his straight right through the space he just created. He will sneak the point of his elbow into a forehead while shelling up in the pocket. When against the ropes, he’ll walk a semicircle behind the official on the break and, what do you know, he’s back in the center of the ring. He has an uncanny sense of when and how much to work to steal a round.

The most likely outcome is a Mayweather victory over the distance. McGregor may employ some of the mind games we’ve seen from him in the cage (exaggerated karate stances, hands behind the back), but Floyd is too professional to be rattled by such antics. If he wants to put his left hand to good use, he may be well served to target the front of the chest, often Mayweather’s most available target, then bringing it upstairs later in the fight.

Having never boxed twelve rounds competitively though, Conor will most likely be unprepared for the grueling task – particularly if Mayweather goes to the body, which he is wont to do with jabs, straights, and the occasional short uppercut. Yes, Mayweather is over a decade his senior, but bearing in mind Floyd’s defensive style, he has nowhere near the mileage on him that many of his peers do after a couple of decades of inflicting head trauma on one another for money.

Prediction:  Mayweather by Decision

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