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Comment: Floyd Mayweather was so bad he made freak show into genuine prize fight

 

By Steve Bunce

As expected there were no excuses at midnight on Saturday when Conor McGregor arrived back in the transformed ring to try and detail his disappointment under the close gaze once again of Floyd Mayweather.

Their boxing match had surpassed expectations, McGregor defied all of the wild predictions and Mayweather had looked older, slower and more desperate at times than at any point in his 21 years as a boxer.

It ended after 65 seconds of the 10th round with McGregor trapped, exposed and defiant on the ropes where he was sagging under Mayweather's furious onslaught.

It was not a particularly dignified climax but the referee, Robert Byrd, got it about right as he cradled McGregor and Mayweather turned away in utter relief. It was the right ending because McGregor, at that point, had exhausted his hastily compiled index of boxing knowledge and was at the mercy of his cruel opponent. A smarter boxer might have been able to fiddle his way to safety.

Mayweather will walk into the boxing sunset at 40, with an immaculate record of 50 and zero and close to a billion dollars in career earnings.

"I was just a kid of 19 from an urban background when I arrived here in Las Vegas," he said during an unusually moving final press conference.

It really is the end and that is a great relief because it is too convenient to avoid his dreadful flaws in a fight he won so convincingly in the end.

It might seem harsh to be so critical but when, like Mayweather, you have been the world's finest fighter for a decade it is important to paint the faults with the same glittering brush as the beauty.

Mayweather was slow, his early timing bad and he was caught with sloppy shots by McGregor in the first three rounds. Mayweather's flaws made the mismatch so watchable and only a cold-hearted cynic would not stand and applaud.

The "what if" wonder at that moment - the end of the third - was impossibly high and a magic end briefly allowed his backers to dream.

McGregor boxed, stood tall, moved his feet, found gaps in the once impregnable defence and was three rounds up after three completed rounds. He was also getting tired and by the end of round five his questionable tank was depleting fast as he rushed backwards, grabbing and groping at Mayweather.

"I made him fight like a Mexican," declared McGregor. He certainly did and he can be proud of that.

Mayweather's performance was horrible at times, his own balance and legendary composure jettisoned in favour of looping shots to catch and hurt the rapidly fading mixed-martial-arts fighter.

On the night it was enough, which is what we all knew, but nobody I know thought we would witness such reckless action from Mayweather; simply saying that you picked Mayweather to win in round 10 fails to tell the story of the extraordinary fight.

It is also needs to be said that McGregor would have improved his slim chances of a fantasy win had he fought 10 rounds before the carnival was launched in June.

I admit that my pre-fight feeling was that no version ever of McGregor could win, but I now think that Mayweather was so bad at times that he genuinely ran the risk of defeat in Las Vegas. "I picked the right dance partner," said Mayweather at the end and he was not joking; the poor admission that Mayweather had protected his most brittle but valuable assets, his fists, by not sparring for a month was uncomfortable and explained his woeful early timing. Thanks, Floyd and thanks Mr McGregor for turning this chaos into such a terrific scrap.

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