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Mismatch of skills makes Mayweather the winner, say pundits

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All sport-loving eyes are on the upcoming boxing match between the undefeated “retired” boxer Floyd Mayweather and lightweight Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) Conor McGregor, being held this Saturday in Las Vegas.
by HELEN GRANGE | Aug 24, 2017

Mayweather is the overwhelming favourite to win the fight by bookmakers and boxing pundits across the world. Mayweather boasts a flawless professional record of 49-0, while mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter McGregor has never been in a boxing match.

For most commentators, that in itself makes the fight farcical. “It’s a circus,” says Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman. “Mayweather is an all-time great and McGregor has never boxed. The fact that the fight was sanctioned is, in itself, questionable. 

“If it is genuine, then McGregor can't live with Mayweather and will look out of his depth as the fight progresses. As Mayweather is a defensive fighter, Mayweather will win on points, or a late stoppage.”

Well known MMA fighter Brendon Katz, having boxed against world champion boxers, and thus has a fairly unique insight into the difference between high level MMA and top level boxing, agrees it’s a mismatch of fighting skills.

“If you put a top triathlete in a bicycle race against the greatest cyclist of our generation, it wouldn’t be competitive. If you put a top-class soccer team against the best rugby team of our generation in a rugby match, it wouldn’t be competitive.

“If you put Mayweather in an MMA fight against McGregor, it wouldn’t be competitive. Now an MMA fighter is getting into the ring with the greatest boxer of our generation,” he says.

McGregor would have a massive advantage in a no-rules or limited rules setting “because of the breadth of his game, including kicking, wrestling, knee and elbow strikes and submissions.

“In a boxing ring, however, where Mayweather is master of a much narrower game, McGregor’s chances are greatly reduced,” says Katz, adding: “There are only so many different ways to move the hands, feet and body, and Mayweather has seen it all. There is nothing McGregor can do that Mayweather isn’t prepared for.”

Age is also a factor in sport. Mayweather is 40 years old, against McGregor’s 27. But in this fight, it’s negligible, posits Katz. 

“There’s an old adage that a fighter is only as old as his hardest fights, and Mayweather has never been a fighter who gets hit a lot. He doesn’t show the same effects of age that other fighters do, so historically there is no reason to believe he is slowing down, nor losing speed or reflexes. It’s dangerous for McGregor to build a strategy that hopes to exploit a weakness Mayweather has never shown before,” he says.

That said, as a naturally bigger man, size is on McGregor’s side. But again, what negates this is the difference in the games, according to Katz. “The prevailing wisdom is that McGregor has more power than Mayweather. 

“In my own experience, the difference in power between high-level professional boxers and high-level MMA fighters, is the same as the difference between kids and adults. Boxers hit with unbelievable force comparatively, and this is backed up by what I could find on measurements on their punching power.”

Mayweather’s force was measured at around 700 pounds per square inch (psi) and McGregor’s about 750 psi. “To put that into perspective, the hardest hitting MMA fighter was a heavyweight who generated around 900 psi.

“Mayweather has fought opponents who generate over 1 000 psi. I don’t see McGregor’s power being enough to bother Mayweather,” says Katz.

Then there’s stamina. Mayweather has always been in tip-top condition, Katz points out, fighting 12 rounds often, including against world champions and legends like Sugar Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao.

“After the 12th round, Mayweather looks like he could easily do 12 more. On the other hand, McGregor has mostly either won or lost quickly, and in fights that have gone past the second round, he’s shown a severe lack of stamina and an inability to sustain a constant pace,” says Katz.

There’s sure to be some good rounds before a clear winner emerges, because Mayweather tends to be cautious early, taking the time to figure out his opponents for the first two or three rounds, and then switching his game on and taking over.

“That indicates to me that McGregor will wilt as the fight goes on, with Mayweather becoming stronger. I see that to be the deciding factor, with McGregor eventually completely running out of steam and the ref stopping the fight around round six.

Rocky Wainstein, owner of Rocky’s Boxing Gym in Edenglen and trainer of some of South Africa’s biggest boxing champions including Pierre Coetzer, agrees that Mayweather is the likely winner. “But don’t take McGregor lightly. I don’t think it’ll be over quickly. I think it’ll go the distance,” he says.

Negotiations for the fight lasted longer than a year, with each man demanding upwards of US$100 million and insisting that they were the main draw. The fight is expected to become the highest grossing event in the history of either sport. 

•           Watch the fight live at the Brendon Katz’ gym, Fight Sports Centre, 59 Grant Avenue, from 02:00. The main bout starts at about 05:00.

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