Floyd Mayweather won for the 50th time in his decorated career when the fantasy fight with Conor McGregor proved a mismatch and he stopped the Irishman in 10 rounds in Las Vegas.
The American has long vowed this would be his final fight, but even at the age of 40 and after almost two years of inactivity he showed few signs of decline in outclassing McGregor, who at the T-Mobile Arena was making his professional debut.
As had always appeared almost certain to be the case when interest in a match-up between the highest-profile figures from boxing and the UFC began building over a year ago, McGregor simply proved levels below perhaps the finest fighter of the modern era.
He remained game and began with confidence, but as with Mayweather’s opponents in his other 49 fights, swiftly learnt his skills were hugely inadequate as he became the first fighter to be stopped by him since Victor Ortiz in 2011.
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Amir Khan fears “boxing will be over” if Conor McGregor defeats Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The welterweight differs from the many who consider the crossover match-up bad for the sport, believing it has given it a timely boost, and has also predicted Mayweather will “walk through” his opponent.
Khan is, however, wary of the wider consequences should McGregor secure what would be the unlikeliest of wins on his professional boxing debut against the fighter widely regarded as the finest of the modern era.
His concern is that so may of boxing’s followers will thereafter be seduced by MMA, and that McGregor’s and the UFC’s present popularity also serves as “a warning” to the sport he has dedicated his life to.
“If McGregor wins, boxing is over,” the 30-year-old said. “Disaster, big time.
“It should be a warning to boxing. There are a lot of titles out there.
“It gives more people an opportunity for a title. (But in) UFC there is only one champion which makes it harder for them. The way boxing is going is fine. (But) it is a warning that you must step your game up.
“I can’t see (McGregor) winning though. To have this fight will take whichever sport to a different level.
“It is going to be a good fight for the first couple of rounds but I see Mayweather getting a stoppage. This could be Mayweather’s chance to finish his career on a high against a big name.
“He’s fighting a guy who hasn’t had a fight: people are forgetting that. They know his MMA career is good. It will be exciting for a couple of rounds then Mayweather will walk through him.
“It’s a good fight, it’s a money fight. It’s going to make a lot of money and boxing is a business.”
The likelihood remains that Saturday’s fight will prove so uncompetitive in Mayweather’s favour that interest in other potential crossover match-ups will cease. Khan’s own long-term pursuit of a fight with the American ended in frustration, but he is positive about McGregor facing him instead.
“It’s good for boxing,” he said. “Boxing needs this. The pay-per-view numbers have been s*** recently. Boxing needs a fight like this to get boxing back up again.
“The winner of this will give the fans an idea of which sport to follow and which sport is better. If Mayweather wins then boxing goes on a high, if McGregor wins then people will follow MMA.
“If (McGregor) wins it’s different. It moves the goalposts. You’d take (a fight against him) because it’s a big name. To do a fight like that in the UK would be massive; I’d even go to Ireland and fight him there.
“You might beat him in the ring but walking out of the ring might be a bit of an issue. Let’s see how he does.
“People are thinking too far ahead. I was speaking to (McGregor’s former sparring partner) Paulie Malignaggi and he said he is really bad at boxing but he does throw some good shots in MMA. Some people only do well when they have that adrenaline rush.”
Sport360’s Stuart Appleby visited UFC Gym Middle East in Business Bay to find out who people are backing in the big Las Vegas showdown.
Here, five people from the Dubai-based gym give their verdicts on the fight.
Meanwhile, have you found a place to watch the historic boxing bout yet?
If you haven’t, UFC Gym Middle East is the perfect place to take in the action.
‘Watch the Greatest Fight in History’ Live from 6am at UFC Gym Business Bay.
RSVP at 800 UFCGYM. Further details via Twitter @UFCGYMME.
Occupation: Professional MMA Fighter
Verdict: It’s an historic fight and I’m backing Mayweather to win in the sixth round, probably by knockout.
Occupation: Aquarium Designs
Verdict: I like them both but I’d love McGregor to win as the underdog and I think he’s got a good chance because he’s a difficult fighter to take on. He’s not a boxer so Mayweather’s not going to know what is coming and I don’t think the American has studied him enough to know what he’s going to do.
Alfred Junior Luciap
Occupation: MMA striking coach at UFC GYM
It’s a big event and I think it will be a great fight which will last as long as 10 rounds, with Mayweather outlasting McGregor in the end.
Verdict: Everyone is excited to see the match-up and I think both fighters have an equal chance of winning. McGregor has a lot of techniques other than boxing which can make him fast in the ring and I’m backing him to triumph.
Occupation: Personal Trainer and Security Operative.
Verdict: It’s his game, it’s his domain and kudos for Conor for having a go but I think it’s time for him to retire and what a way to go out on a $100m pay packet.