Floyd Mayweather early Sunday morning beat Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, claiming his 50th victory and maintaining his unbeaten record.
Not many gave McGregor any fighting chance, but the Irishman surprised many of his critics with a largely professional display, taking the fight to 10 rounds.
He even got off to a flying start, throwing a series of punches at the 40-year-old and scoring a few early points. But at the end, it was Mayweather who emerged victorious and has subsequently announced his retirement from active boxing.
Mayweather’s victory over McGregor sees him improve his record to 50-0 record, surpassing Rocky Marciano’s Mark of 49-0.
The most eagerly awaited boxing event in years tagged ‘The Money Fight’ took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with over 200,000 spectators in attendance.
Tickets sold at a premium, with ringside seats going for between 18,000 and 30,000 pounds (about N8,280,000 and N13,800,000).
Even spectators in the upper tier of the arena paid over 2,000 pounds (about N920,000) just to catch a glimpse of the fight.
The American, who came out of retirement for a potential $300 million (about N107 billion) pay day, took on his Irish opponent McGregor, UFC’s most iconic figure, who was making his debut in professional boxing.
The first two rounds were rather subdued with McGregor the aggressor landing far more punches as the former five-weight world champion was more on the defensive.
However, on several occasions, his MMA instinct kicked in as he edged close to breaking the rules and he was warned by referee Robert Byrd about hitting Mayweather at the back of the head.
Mayweather finally came into his own in the fourth round as he began to get comfortable with McGregor’s unorthodox approach.
McGregor looked to be slightly ahead on points heading into the fifth round but Mayweather went on the attack midway through the round.
With McGregor being used to five rounds of five minutes in MMA, the ninth round was an unfamiliar territory for the young Irishman and he looked ‘out of gas’ as Mayweather took control.
The undefeated champion executed a game plan which pounced on McGregor’s lack of conditioning for the late rounds which proved so key on big fight nights and as tiredness took hold, Mayweather upped his ferocity.
By round nine, the 40-year-old began to stalk McGregor, whose legs were weakening as his rival fired – and landed – more with the Irishman offering little.
It was almost a miracle that McGregor made it to the bell without falling flat on the canvas, but it all came to an end as the fight which followed weeks of manic build-up, spiteful words and chaos – came to an end in the tenth round.
Referee Byrd’s stoppage may have arrived too early for some, as McGregor’s early effort meant he was in the contest on the scorecards.
But the 29-year-old was wilting and, though his effort and display should be commended, Mayweather’s poise and invincibility remained constant.
“He is a tough competitor and we gave them what the fans wanted to see – I owed them for the Manny Pacquiao fight,” Mayweather said in his post-match comments.
“He [McGregor] was a lot better than I thought. He was a tough competitor, but I was the better man. Our game plan was to take our time, let him shoot his heavy shots and take him out at the end.
“In the MMA, he fights 25 minutes really hard, and after 25 minutes he starts to slow down. I guaranteed everybody this would not go the distance. Boxing’s reputation was on the line.”
On his record of 50-0, beating Rocky Marciano’s 49-0, Mayweather added: “Rocky Marciano is a legend and I look forward to going into the hall of fame one day.
“This was my last fight tonight, for sure. I chose the right dance partner. Conor McGregor, you are a hell of a champion,” he said.