Saturday the 26th saw a Mayweather fight plan so sublime it was almost too good for words. Only its execution could be truly descriptive enough to do it justice. In claiming the 'Golden Fleece' of boxing by beating the great Rocky Marciano's record, Mayweather stamped his claim to greatness alongside luminaries such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr and so on. His unbeaten record is astonishing in modern times and for a man of 40 years old he looked like a young, hungry lion as he relentlessly pursued the much younger and very game Conor McGregor around the ring. As soon as I saw Floyd keeping his gloves close to his head it was clear that he would be walking forward continually. Rarely did he take a backward step with the familiar trademark back leaning, shoulder roll defense almost completely absent. He knew his usual style would be ineffective against McGregor as he weathered the calm but steady storm of the first 4 or 5 rounds as the Irish man came forward throwing awkward shots and falling in behind his left hand to hold and try to bamboozle Floyd into frustration. It wasn't to be however as Mayweather determinedly pressed ahead, barely waiting for the referee to part them at times before instantly burrowing speedily forward into McGregor's chest, looking to land fast counters while ducking or absorbing punches himself. Unable to rest from the continuous pressure Conor was slowly but surely punching himself out of the competition.
It's easy to forget just how teak-tough the man from Michigan really is because his skills and speed are so breathtaking. This fight was reminiscent of the fight with Ricky Hatton which took place an incredible 10 years ago with Floyd showing no discernible decline whatsoever. Unlike Hatton though, McGregor couldn't force Floyd back for much of the fight, his long levers and awkward punches doing little to discourage Mayweather who clearly had the vision of the knockout as the singular outcome of this contest in his mind.
This was vintage Mayweather; patience, maturity and unrivalled ring general ship. McGregor's face towards the end had the look of realization of that of an animal that had believed he was stalking his prey but in actual fact was the hunted himself. Mayweather had taken the best he had to offer but McGregor could not do the same. By the end of round nine Floyd was winging hurtful, accurate punches into McGregor's face and when the bell sounded for the tenth the writing was deeply etched onto the wall of history. There was nowhere to hide for McGregor and suddenly the confident, swaggering figure of the last few months disappeared and the square ring revealed once again what a lonely place it is for the man who has been weighed and measured and ultimately found wanting.
Exhausted and spent, McGregor stumbled around like a drunk when the inevitable end came before the referee came to his rescue stopping events with McGregor still on his feet but in no condition to defend himself. (As this had writer predicted).
What a career, what an athlete, what a final performance. Mayweather united fans of boxing and mixed martial arts with this incredible event and his legacy is unquestioned. For all those who even gave McGregor an outside chance, how dare they question Mayweather's greatness? At 40 years old he demonstrated, with a fight for the ages just how far ahead of everyone he truly is. Anyone who could be negative about this presentation by the old master does himself need thumping on the head.
Thanks for all of the incredible memories Champ!