The Money Fight paid off.
Hyped for its novelty and spectacle, the bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC star Conor McGregor materialized into a real fight ― and an entertaining one at that.
Mayweather beat the Irishman McGregor in Las Vegas Saturday by technical knockout in the 10th round to preserve his unblemished record.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he was,” Mayweather said. “He used a lot of angles. But I was the better man tonight. ... Our game plan was to take our time. … Then take him out at the end.”
“I thought it was close, and I thought the stoppage was a little early,” McGregor said.
“The ref should have let me keep going. I was just a little fatigued.”
Mayweather, who emerged from retirement at age 40 for the lucrative match and then declared himself retired again after the victory, improved to 50-0 to surpass heavyweight great Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record for most wins without a loss or draw.
McGregor, 21-3 in mixed martial arts but making his pro boxing debut, appeared to defy his underdog status in the early rounds as the aggressor. Then fatigue and Mayweather’s experience caught up with him. In the 10th round Mayweather hit McGregor with a barrage of punches, prompting referee Robert Byrd to stop the fight.
After Mayweather’s lackluster victory against Manny Pacquiao more than two years ago, many boxing fans questioned whether this mega-fight would disappoint.
But boxing promoter Lou DiBella told HuffPost from the arena that boxing fans got what they wanted.
“Ultimately, we’re in the entertainment business,” DiBella said, “and this was a very entertaining fight. McGregor is a great athlete. But he was awkward. He was coming in from another discipline, and it showed.”
Former WBA lightweight champ Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini told HuffPost that Mayweather’s skills have deteriorated with age.
“His hand speed wasn’t there,” Mancini said. “He was a step behind. But he has always been a smart fighter and he chopped McGregor down little by little and zapped him of his strength. It was clear that McGregor was in over his head, even though it was impressive how he went into it. He’s tough. He just isn’t a boxer.”
“The fact that McGregor was so awkward in the ring probably made it even harder for Mayweather at first. But he figured it out. It was actually entertaining to watch.”
DiBella said Mayweather may want to think twice before stepping into the ring again. “He is done and he knows it. He’s a great businessman/fighter. But we’ve seen the last of him.”
Reuters contributed to this report.