LAS VEGAS — The Money Mayweather brand is all over Las Vegas. It’s on the black buses with TMT in white letters. It’s in the memorabilia shops where rows upon rows of T-shirts, hats, and assorted accessories carry the Mayweather logos.
“TBE,” as in The Best Ever, is on all sorts of apparel as well, a statement to his perfection in the ring and a connection to the lifestyle that comes with being Floyd Mayweather.
The Mayweather brand is synonymous with private planes, flashy cars, designer clothes, diamonds and real estate that range from mansions to strip clubs. All of it centers around one thing: being the unbeaten king of boxing. That’s why Mayweather has too much to lose to lose to Conor McGregor on Saturday night when they meet in T-Mobile Arena in what will be the richest fight in boxing history.
“The only thing God made perfect is my boxing record,” we’ve heard Mayweather say time and time again. That all would go away if his 49-0 were to turn to 49-1 by losing to McGregor in what would be the biggest upset in boxing history.
“When a fighter has lost before, if he loses again, they say, ‘Oh, it’s nothing. He’s lost before,’ ” Mayweather said this week. “But when a fighter has been dominating for 20 years — never lost — everything is on the line. My legacy, my boxing record — everything is on the line.”
McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, was the only opponent who could draw Mayweather out of a two-year retirement. The bombastic Irishman has attracted over 1 million pay-per-view buys in his past four fights and carries a huge international fan base. The intrigue of the best MMA fighter challenging the best pound-for-pound boxer has created an early estimate of five million pay-per-view buys. At $99.95 a pop, that’s just the start of the revenue that will be generated.
Mayweather will earn an estimated $200 million, while McGregor could get $100 million.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at if I didn’t take risks,” Mayweather said. “So I don’t mind putting the 49-0 record on the line. I don’t mind putting everything on the line for this fight. I feel like it’s worth it.”
McGregor has proven a worthy opponent in the art of promotion, attracting huge crowds and mega attention. From the international world tour through fight week, he has insisted he will dominate Mayweather.
“I will put the pressure on him and break this old man, trust me on that,” McGregor said. “I don’t see him lasting two rounds.”
It has made for good sound bites. But the notion of McGregor beating Mayweather in his first professional boxing match is ludicrous — forcing Mayweather, the promoter, to spend most of his time talking up McGregor’s chances.
“I don’t think that I’m the same Floyd Mayweather that I was 10 years ago,” he said. “I’m not even the same Floyd Mayweather that I was five or two years ago.”
True, but he has enough experience and skill to handle McGregor. It says here Mayweather will win by stoppage in the 10th round. By then he should be landing just about everything he throws at McGregor, who will burn energy early in the fight to the point of exhaustion over the final rounds.
McGregor will try desperately to land his powerful left hand using unconventional angles and stances in hopes of confusing Mayweather. But that will open the Irishman up for Mayweather’s extraordinary counterpunching abilities.
Yes, McGregor will be the bigger man and try to impose his weight and will, but Mayweather has fought bigger men and bigger punchers. He also is a master of adjustments; working the body one round, unleashing combinations the next, always using his defensive skills and footwork to keep out of trouble.
Pride will motivate McGregor, but Mayweather’s entire legacy is at stake. Becoming a champion in five-different weight classes, building himself into the pay-per-view king and recognition as TBE, all of that is at stake Saturday night.
That’s why Mayweather has too much to lose to lose.
Mayweather by decision
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (49-0) has everything to lose, and nothing to prove, which isn’t much different than many of the fights the 40-year-old has fought in the latter stages of his career. Though his legacy and perfect record would be forever shattered with a loss, Mayweather will not be beaten on points by a novice boxer like Conor McGregor. As one of the best defensive fighters in the history of the sport, Mayweather won’t allow the Irishman to get in position to land anything more damaging than some jabs.
Being undefeated is all that matters to Mayweather, in what likely will be the final fight of his career, and he will be content to win in a 12-round decision, just as he did in his previous seven fights. If 47 professional boxers couldn’t defeat Mayweather, a mixed martial artist won’t have the answer.
— Howie Kussoy
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