In the end, nothing has changed and that in itself is the best outcome for all.
Floyd Mayweather got the result boxing so richly required, MMA got the performance from Conor McGregor it so desperately needed, the fans got the entertainment they craved and everyone got paid.
Indeed, Mayweather’s 10th round stoppage of a brave, but beaten, McGregor in Las Vegas was the perfect conclusion to what seemed an imperfect match-up.
Far from the farce predicted, McGregor can hold his head high and Mayweather likewise for giving the fans what they wanted in finally hunting to take a head off.
Now, we move on with the acceptance that this megafight, an awkward marriage of two contrasting disciplines, had no negative or positive impact on either sport.
It existed and it happened, monetarily going down in the history books and culturally taking on significance as a remarkable piece of one-time entertainment – nothing more.
With the appetite satisfied, the hope now is that this is the last of the crossover clash because quite simply they don’t serve a purpose, we don’t need to see it again.
McGregor can return to his natural habitat in MMA, emboldened by his lionhearted display and bloated financially by a big boxing payday.
Whether it is this year or next, when the Dublin-native does decide to compete in MMA again his reputation is more than fortified.
He outlanded Mayweather in the first three sessions, boxed rather than brawled on his debut in the sport and will have earned a fraction of the exponential viewership to take back to MMA.
That same boxing audience will now be searching for a new pay-per-view star because Mayweather is finished – for real this time.
There was always a sense after the Andre Berto fight that he would be back, too tantalising the prospect of just sitting level with Rocky Marciano on 49-0. And his performance exemplified why the time is right to bow out.
For a 40-year-old man, Mayweather was in tremendous physical condition, strong into the deep rounds as a 29-year-old McGregor faded fast, but he looked old. This wasn’t the greatest boxer of this generation as he did, in fairness, perpetually profess in the build-up claiming, “he wasn’t the same”, but he delivered on his promise to right the wrong of his Manny Pacquiao performance.
In reality, McGregor needed a knockout before the fourth round but Mayweather did exactly what was necessary to make sure that didn’t happen.
He barely threw a punch in the first three stanzas but he didn’t blink either as he read McGregor’s unorthodox movement.
He covered up in three and four to look for counters then put the pressure on gradually until McGregor was cooked.
While the debutant delivered 111-of-430 (25.8 per cent), Mayweather contrastingly landed 170-of-320 (53.1 per cent) of his punches. Although the Irishman registered 30 more punches than Pacquiao managed in two more rounds, it must be prefaced Mayweather sacrificed his signature defensive style to make it an interesting fight.
“I wanted to go out with a bang to give the fans what they wanted to see,” Mayweather told ESPN post-fight. “I didn’t want to give the fans a boring fight.
“I kept my composure. I knew I would take some shots. We came on in the second half. We had a game plan. Our game plan worked.”
With the prestige of 50-0, he can retire rich and unrivalled while McGregor seeks a new adversary.
But like always the Irishman has option, a Russian superfight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, a lucrative trilogy conclusion with Nate Diaz or just the defence of his 155lbs title are all on the table.
“This was some buzz to come in and fight this man,” McGregor said. “There was so many things to overcome. I have many options in MMA. I am sure there will be options that will present themselves in the boxing game.
“I love competing. I love a damn good fight. I can’t tell you exactly what is next but something will be next.”
That doesn’t sound a man defeated, indeed, it’s as if nothing has changed at all.
Conor McGregor placed himself on a potential collision course with his mixed martial arts paymasters after refusing to rule out further boxing bouts following his defeat to Floyd Mayweather.
The charismatic Irishman, a two-weight UFC world champion, performed creditably before eventually being stopped by boxing legend Mayweather in the 10th round at the T-Mobile Arena.
McGregor, 29, could pocket as much as $100million from Sunday’s fight, eclipsing his entire career MMA earnings in a single night’s work.
While McGregor ended up being comfortably beaten by Mayweather, the MMA star – who had never boxed in a professional bout before the clash – said he was open to continuing in the ring.
“I enjoyed the fight, It was a great contest,” McGregor said. “People ask me what’s next, I’m not quite sure. I’ve multiple titles in the UFC to think about.
“I could also continue in the boxing game…I have many options in mixed martial arts. I’m sure there’ll be options in boxing. Right now I’m a free agent.”
Many in the boxing world had questioned whether McGregor’s bout with Mayweather, which is on track to become the richest fight in history, should even have been sanctioned.
McGregor revealed after the fight he had been stung by the criticism of the boxing establishment.
“There was a lot of disrespect and a lot of disregard for my skill,” he said.
“I was a little bit taken aback by the disrespect and the disregard that was shown. But I always knew that when the fight came around I’d give a good account of myself,” added McGregor, who was competitive in the early rounds before being dominated by Mayweather.
One obvious boxing bout on the horizon for McGregor could be against sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi.
Malignaggi has spent the build-up goading McGregor publicly, creating a grudge-match narrative that is likely to appeal to fans.
– ‘Not what he does’ –
But any plans McGregor has about continuing his flirtation with boxing are likely to be opposed by UFC chief executive Dana White.
White, who was instrumental in helping set up the Mayweather fight, said he would prefer to see McGregor return to the world of cage-fighting – and stay there.
“I would rather he did not,” White said when asked if he wanted McGregor to continue boxing.
“This is not what he does. He’s a mixed martial artist. He goes in and he fights and he uses all of his weapons. Tonight he goes in and is only able to use his hands. I don’t think he has anything else left to prove. I would rather he fights mixed martial arts.”
White emphasised that McGregor’s bout with Mayweather was a one-off, which had built its own momentum due to the status of the two fighters as the kings of their respective crafts.
“This thing built itself from the ground up. From the fans to the media, and then up to us, the promoters,” White said.
“It was just a real special event and a rare event. I’m not looking to do this again.”
White said he had not discussed future plans with McGregor.
“I’m ready to get back in the UFC and do what I do,” White said. “We’re not talking about fighting tonight. You know how he is. When he’s ready he’ll let me know.”
White admitted though that he was proud McGregor had carried the flag for mixed martial arts, noting that he had landed more punches on Mayweather than many other fighters.
“Conor McGregor’s a fighter, and we saw a fight tonight,” White said.
“I don’t know if it was the best boxing we’ve ever seen, but we saw a fight. Conor was in here landing jabs on Floyd Mayweather. Conor McGregor looked damn good to me.”
Provided by AFP Sport
Irish media hailed Dublin’s Conor McGregor for a gritty display on Sunday following his 10th-round loss to Floyd Mayweather in their Las Vegas super-fight.
The pundits focused on the mixed martial arts star’s endurance and bravery in managing to stay upright for 10 rounds with an opponent of Mayweather’s calibre, particularly as it was his first bout in a boxing ring.
“This was, after all the hype and trash talk, a man entering a new sport and taking on the best and while it was a comfortable win for Mayweather, McGregor has been lauded for the effort he put in,” wrote The Irish Independent.
Online sports website Joe also talked up McGregor’s ability to hang in, having been clearly outclassed after the first three rounds.
“There was to be no almighty shock, but McGregor earned plenty of respect (as well as a helluva lot of money) and can walk away from the encounter with his head held high,” it said.
Other crumbs of comfort were to be found in tabloid newspapers, who knew their readership would be firmly backing the former plumber from the wrong side of the tracks who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom.
“Conor McGregor landed more punches on Floyd Mayweather than Manny Pacquiao — in two fewer rounds,” noted the Irish Sunday Mirror.
But McGregor also polarises Irish public opinion like no other athlete.
While many people are enthralled by his working-class hero credentials, some regard him as a loud-mouthed thug from an obscure sport parading crass views and garish bling.
McGregor wears his Irish identity with pride and trooped into the ring draped in the national flag of green, white and orange in front of thousands of his supporters, who had spent vast sums of money to fly to Las Vegas.
Ahead of the fight, The Irish Times broadsheet attempted to explain McGregor’s popularity.
“The poster child of an on-demand generation weaned on Sky Sports, raised to believe marketing hype about instant classics, Super Sundays and routine title defences that are fights for the ages,” wrote veteran journalist Dave Hannigan.
“Through no fault of their own, their first language is hyperbole, their default setting exaggeration.”
RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, gave a nuanced account of the event.
It hinted that a $100 million payday would more than likely soften the blow for McGregor, who had been forced to rely on state welfare benefits before becoming a superstar in the mixed martial arts world.
“The biggest fight in combat sports history was no disappointment, but it didn’t provide fireworks worthy of all the build-up, anticipation and of course all that money.”