LAS VEGAS — In the end, the equation we all knew coming in turned out to be true: The best boxer in the world beat one of the best mixed martial artists in a boxing match.
How we got there, however, was completely surprising.
In his return from a two-year retirement, Floyd Mayweather improved to 50-0 with a 10th-round TKO over an incredibly game Conor McGregor in their pay-per-view superfight at T-Mobile Arena. But the storyline was just as much about McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, in defeat than it was about the 40-year-old Mayweather in victory.
McGregor, 29, who was making his debut as a boxer, never fought reckless or overly aggressive, in contrast to his prediction of a first-round knockout. What he did was present Mayweather with a poised and credible challenge, teasing a bright future in the boxing game should he consider it.
“We talked about how he’s a tough competitor, and I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see. I chose a hell of a dance partner to dance with. Conor McGregor, you are a hell of a champion.”
Mayweather, who officially announced his retirement after the fight, was true to his prediction throughout the fight’s build when he promised it wouldn’t go the distance. He also stuck to his guns about standing in front of McGregor looking for a finish.
After a slow start in which Mayweather gave away the first three rounds in order to pick up McGregor’s rhythms, the former pound-for-pound king began his attack.
“He’s a tough competitor” Mayweather said. “Our game plan was to take our time, let him shoot all his heavy shots early and then take him out at the end down the stretch.”
Round 10 was all Mayweather as he walked down the fading Irishman with right hands. After a clean combination against the ropes, referee Robert Byrd jumped in at 1:05 to wave off the fight.
“I thought it was close. Let me go down, let the man put me down,” McGregor said about the finish. “Wobbly and fatigued? I’m clear-headed. Let me wobble back to me corner. If they finished that round he’d be wobbling to the morgue.
Mayweather outlanded McGregor, 170 to 111, according to CompuBox, and landed 58 percent of his power shots. From Rounds 6-10, Mayweather outlanded his opponent by a count of 130-60.
At the time of the stoppage, Mayweather led on all three judges’ scorecards (87-83, 89-82, 89-81).