ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Both sides have a lot to lose – or gain – as boxing meets MMA this Saturday night. Floyd Mayweather, the 49-0 world champion is coming out of retirement to face UFC champion Conor McGregor in a Nevada-sanctioned super fight (circus?) in Las Vegas. The pay-per-view event is expected to draw upwards of 50-million viewers.
McGregor, a confident, tough-talking Irishman, is younger (29) than the 40-year-old Mayweather. He’s bigger, too, with a reputation for beating his opponents to a pulp in the ring. So why is he such a big underdog in this bout?
I asked Earl McWilliams, CEO of St. Louis-based Elite Boxing Promotions and judge of more than 500 boxing matches, to give his take:
“He’s fighting the greatest fighter of our generation,” McWilliams said of McGregor’s attempt to beat Mayweather. “He’s really starting off at the top, isn’t he?”
But what chance does McGregor really have?
“Well, hopefully, for Conor McGregor’s sake, he’ll fight two opponents that night: Floyd Mayweather and Father Time,” McWilliams said. “Athletically, (Mayweather) is not a young person. He’s had two years of inactivity. Any chance that McGregor has heightens because of those two factors. But beyond that… legitimately, I don’t think he has much of a chance on paper. But that’s why we want to tune in to see it.”
McWilliams believes McGregor, who is expected to be the crowd favorite, will get some shots in.
“It’s going to be pockets of competitiveness, where I think McGregor might land a punch or two, which might get people excited. But when the smoke clears, Mayweather is the superior athlete.”
A self-proclaimed boxing purist, McWilliams admits he’s become intrigued lately with this particular fight because of the effort McGregor has put in to be a better boxer. And the fact that boxing’s reputation, in many ways, is on the line Saturday… as is that of mixed martial arts.
“Boxing, I believe, would have the most to lose if Mayweather is damaged,” McWilliams said. “And by that I mean, if he loses in any way, particularly decisively. Because he’s the favorite. Boxing is supposed to be superior to MMA… and this is the opportunity to prove it. If he fails, it would be a bigger blow to boxing.
“For MMA, Conor McGregor is not expected to win. He’s expected to lose. So, in that regard, he has less to lose. But God bless him for taking the chance. And it’s a big risk.”
McGregor will not be able to use his MMA moves; he’ll be watched closely by the referee.
“Basically, he’s disarmed,” McWilliams said.
But can he win it?
“I see this fight as a Floyd Mayweather win,” McWilliams said. “The problem that I’m having is you don’t have a lot to go from. You’ve never seen an MMA fighter fight a boxer. This is the first time. But Mayweather is the cream of the crop. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s going to take McGregor out to deep sea… and I think he’ll drown him.”