One of the many monikers given to this monumental event taking place Saturday Night on August 26, 2017.In this WBC Sanctioned Boxing Match taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, currently undefeated boxing legend Floyd "Money" Mayweather, jr., who comes into his first fight since September of 2015, where he last defended his WBA, WBC, The Ring, and Lineal Welterweight titles, squares off against MMA Phenom "The Notorious" Conor McGregor, who himself is coming off of two big MMA wins in 2015, along with the UFC Lightweight Division title around his waist.
When the hype and rumors for this fight came along, it sounded like a fantasy to about 90% of fans following the fight game. Initially, UFC President Dana White was extremely skeptical, citing McGregor's current contract and Champion status as a hindrance to such an event. However, Dana's feelings about the fight would slowly but surely change. Conor continued his tirade on social media and on camera when he could and soon enough, Floyd Mayweather responded. On March 7, 2017, Mayweather jr. was on before the press saying the following: "If Conor McGregor really wants this fight to happen, stop blowing smoke up everybody's ass. Sign the paper. Sign the paper. You said you were boss, just sign the paper and let's make it happen." With this, the frenzy began. Both the boxing world and the MMA world exploded with anticipation. Some were still skeptical however, how would this be done? It was no question that both Conor and Floyd had the money to put on their own promotion to hold the event and that Showtime would air it, but the biggest question was the rule set. At the time, nobody knew if Conor could or would adhere to boxing rules, but everyone knew Floyd would never agree to an MMA bout. Eventually Mayweather signed a WBC contract with a strict boxing rule set, with added incentives to further discourage MMA style striking techniques. To most, this was Conor's fight to lose, in MMA he utilized quick and powerful kicking technique to set up his punches, and also used the ground game to his advantage when he could, surely a boxing match would limit him, and discourage him from attempting his shot at Floyd.
We were all wrong. On May 18th, 2017, Conor McGregor agreed and signed the contract with all of Floyd's terms of agreement, officially setting the fight date for August 26. Then the real speculation began.
Technically, this would seem like a fight that favors Floyd Mayweather, jr. He is currently undefeated in the boxing ring, and while he wasn't known for spectacular KO power, what does stand out is his defensive techniques and counter-punching. He uses a boxing technique called the 'Shoulder-Roll' as his primary defensive tactic. This defensive position and movement allows Floyd to duck back behind his own outside shoulder, mainly his left shoulder (as he boxes Orthodox), to avoid or deflect the straight cross, his arm remains bent at the elbow such that his forearm covers his midsection from body shots, and his free right hand is used to deflect hooks or jabs as well as cross over for a slick counter right hand that he has famously used to stun his opponents going for combinations.
What Conor McGregor brings to the table is more unorthodox. He fights southpaw and with a more hybrid MMA style. His feet stand further apart than in a boxing stance and he keeps his hands low, as to remain relaxed, but more so to throw strikes from different angles. In striking with the hands, it is much easier to predict the trajectory of a punch when the hands are up constantly protecting the head. What Conor has done has adopted a style of keeping his hands active, and low. By keeping them active, his opponent must respect his power and his options with striking.
Both fighters have looked good at their respective open workouts, and at this point it is unclear how the fight will play out, while every prediction from a first round KO by Conor to Floyd winning a one-sided decision has been made, it is clear what the true stakes are for this fight. For Floyd, this is a monumental risk. Not only would this fight be a tarnish on his perfect professional record, but the entire world of boxing would be taken aback in shock. Floyd has been a poster boy for the sport of boxing and how good someone could truly be at its nuances, and over the years many a case has been made that boxing is a more respectable and skill-heavy sport than MMA because it requires more refined hand striking, footwork, ring control, and endurance. Ergo, most people see it as a no-brainer that Floyd will most likely outbox and out defend the Irishman based on his fine tuned skill and experience with the sport. However, if there's anybody you can't be sure with, it's the Notorious. For him the risk is lessened. If he loses he will face some humiliation from the boxing community and MMA as a whole will feel defeated, but this can be completely opposite if he were to win, with the boxing community being shocked and a massive victory for the sport of MMA.Conor McGregor has showed multiple times that his hand speed and the power that follows it are unique to say the least. He most recently had a sparring session with former Pro Boxing Champion Paulie Malignaggi, and even though this was the center of much controversy, what did show was that Conor could hang with a pro boxer into the later rounds condition wise, and also his power and speed were showcased. When the fight first was announced, the betting odds difference was staggering, with Mayweather at -2250 and McGregor at +950, but as of August 25, the odds have tightened down to Mayweather at -450 as the favorite and McGregor trailing with +325.
All in all, this is a spectacle that will no doubt bring is closure and answers to the hype and dramatics that have played out over these last few months, and even if purists of both sports are appalled at this show because of its appeal to sheer entertainment, but no matter the outcome, there is little doubt that we will forget this experience in our lifetimes.