Don’t patronise the man – Conor McGregor did as well as most sane people thought he would, which was as well as Floyd Mayweather allowed him to
Irishman departs boxing, for now, with an 0-1 record complaining of a lack of respect, something he failed to show anyone in boxing
Conor McGregor washed a shot of self-pity down with his soon-to-be-launched eponymous Irish Whiskey at the post-fight media conference after his consummate dismantling at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jnr on Saturday night.
“There was a lot of disrespect and disregard for my skill,” claimed the UFC star. “I’m a multiple-weight free-fighting world champion, I was a little bit taken back by the disregard I was shown,” he said before concluding that those detractors, the ones with clear heads about his prospects of upsetting the finest defensive boxer ever to lace gloves, over an unchartered 12 rounds, on his debut bout in the sport, were simply jealous of him.
The irony seemed totally lost on the man that it was he who had offended at least the professional boxers who had contested Mayweather’s 49 previous bouts with his ludicrous claims that he could turn his hand to boxing and defeat a man who had dominated them all for years at the first attempt.
The biggest surprise, perhaps, was that only one of their number, Paulie Malignaggi, who never made it to the requisite level to challenge Mayweather during a 16-year professional career, took the Irishman’s contempt personally and attempted to dole out some education to the ‘Notorious’ one. We may never know if he managed to ‘educate’ the MMA fighter during their now-fabled sparring sessions, but the Brooklyn brawler certainly claims to have handed him a lesson in respect.
When all is said and done, history will show that McGregor did okay. A ‘C’ grade, if you will. He didn’t get embarrassed as some people suggested he would, and in defeat he earned a reported US$127 million – on his debut. Make that a ‘C+’.
The elation he could scarcely mask at the end of the fight was indicative of the fact that he won in almost every possible way on Saturday night: his reputation was intact, he was relatively unscathed save for some superficial bruising, his adoring fans still cheered him as a hero, he proved some people wrong, and he made north of US$100 million. It was surprising that he didn’t uncork that celebratory whiskey right there in the ring before his post-fight interview.
For all the patronising claims of ‘he did so well’, and ‘he landed more shots than Pacquiao/Alvarez/Berto managed’ since the fight, there are few pointing out that he variously claimed he would knock out the “weak old man” within two rounds, that he was in a different league to the American, that he would prove everybody wrong, that he was boxing. All of that and way, way more during the ridiculously hyperbolic media tour that preceded the fight, turned out to be nonsense.
Despite an uncharacteristic wobble from the bookmakers in the run-up to the fight, it turned out they were on the money – in more than one sense. The safe bet was indeed that Mayweather would eventually have too much craft for the rookie, and that the old master would out-think and out-manoeuvre his opponent to a standstill.
As he said he planned all along, ‘Money’ allowed McGregor to seize the early initiative and with it the opening rounds, and let him throw his biggest shots in a naive exuberance. He boxed dirty in the clinch, he boxed smart under pressure, he procured the protection of the referee – all the techniques that a 50-fight veteran was always going to draw on. In the end ‘Pretty Boy’ emerged from the bout unmarked looking as though he’d enjoyed a gentle session on the heavy bag.
In a sense, this was one of the few fights that McGregor could have emerged from with any credit. Mayweather hasn’t had the power to blast an opponent out in many years. After two years away from the ring, he was only ever going to claim this fight by making McGregor’s inexperience work for him.
Anyone who thinks this fight would have lasted longer than a round or two if McGregor was tossed in there with the aggressive stylings of the likes of Canelo Alvarez or Danny Garcia is at best in denial or at worst totally deluded. An all-action fighter of that ilk would have swiftly swarmed over McGregor’s awkward, terrifyingly unorthodox stance and ended matters quickly. That would be a fight where a novice’s well-being would seriously be called into question.
In truth, on the evidence of Saturday, you wouldn’t even fancy McGregor in a contest against the far less talented Malignaggi.
And then there’s that last bastion of McGregor's adoring MMA fans: that Mayweather should climb into the octagon then, and see how long he lasts. But, of course, he wouldn’t even entertain the notion. As arrogant as he is, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to presume that he could move into another martial discipline with just a few weeks of training and beat a life-long combatant at his own game. He leaves that to the likes of McGregor.