Mayweather needed three rounds to take the two-division UFC champion’s measure before spending the next seven walking him down, picking him apart and closing the show with a 10th-round knockout before a crowd of 14,623 at the T-Mobile Arena. Afterward he announced his retirement with a record of 50 wins in 50 professional bouts with 27 by stoppage. Not since a dubious points loss to Bulgaria’s Serafim Todorov at the 1996 Olympics has a fight ended without the American’s hand raised.
“Our game plan was to take our time, go to him, let him shoot his shots early and then take him out down the stretch,” said the 40-year-old Mayweather, who ended a bout inside the distance for the first time since a controversial knockout of Victor Ortiz six years ago and only the second time in a decade. “We know in MMA, he fights for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, he started to slow down. I guaranteed to everybody that this wouldn’t go the distance.”
McGregor, 29, shot from his corner and tried to swarm Mayweather from the opening bell, landing a pair of body shots and a pawing left upstairs. But Mayweather calmly fought off the back foot and assessed the unknown quantity before him, allowing McGregor to throw clumsy, lunging shots that missed wildly.
Early in the second McGregor was warned by referee Robert Byrd for hitting behind the head early as Mayweather continued to sit back and take the Irishman’s measure. McGregor even switched to an orthodox stance momentarily, which seemed to give the boxer pause. Yet the slow pace prevailed with Mayweather continuing to throw judiciously, mostly leading with jabs to the body.
The end came early in the 10th when Mayweather landed a right hand that sent McGregor reeling before following up with a more than dozen unanswered punches, prompting Byrd to intervene at the 1:05 mark.
“I thought it was a little early on the stoppage,” said McGregor, who landed 111 of 430 punches (26%) compared to 170 of 320 punches for his opponent (53%). “I get a little wobbly when I’m tired. But get me in the corner and I’ll recover and I’ll come back. There’s a lot on the line here – he should have let me keep going until I hit the floor. I was just a little fatigued. He was a lot more composed, especially in the later parts of the fight.”
Said Mayweather: “He’s a lot better than I thought he’d be. He’s a tough competitor, but I was the better man tonight.”
Relative to expectations, it will leave a better taste in customers’ mouths than the Pacquiao fight. But it lacked the high tension and drama inherent in true championship affairs.