After months of buildup and over-exaggerated hype, the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor bout ended in a unpredictably predictable manner. Now when I say unpredictably predictable, I mean that while the result was as expected, how it got there was something not many expected.
During the numerous press events and soundbytes stemming from this matchup, two key phrases always rang true. McGregor stood by his claim of an early finish, but Mayweather also stated to wait for a finish. While McGregor’s claim made sense, no one expected the Irishman to take any form of decision, Mayweather’s stance seemed to be nothing more then bluster from a man who hasn’t had a true finish within the ring since 2007. Not only did he promise a finish, but while speaking to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Mayweather promised to channel his inner “Pretty Boy” persona and take the fight to McGregor.
To almost everyone, this just seemed like more talk to build PPV sales and hype around a bout that seemed almost academic in it’s result. In the sport of boxing, a Mayweather decision victory might be the safest bet in sports outside of a Harlem Globetrotters game. So as the two men made their ring walk, listened to their respected national anthem’s, and met with referee Robert Byrd for final instructions, visions of a decision win over Manny Pacquiao surely came to mind for everyone. One hundred dollars wasted on a fight built on expectations and belief rather than reality.
But as soon as the opening bell rang, something funny happened: Mayweather wanted to not only engage with McGregor, he seemed willing to take punches as well. While taking a few very strong punches from McGregor, it became obvious to most that Mayweather was implementing a modified version of Muhammad Ali’s famous “Rope-a-dope” strategy. Landing only 28 of 59 punches, 47%, of his punches over the first four rounds, Mayweather allowed McGregor to attempt a total of 180 punches, of which 42 landed, 23%.
According to the judges this past Saturday, after four rounds, McGregor held a 39-37 advantage on only one card, while Maywweather held the same advantage on the other two. For the Pacquiao bout, Mayweather led on all three cards, 39-37. The major point one must take from these numbers is that Mayweather knew that Pacquiao did possess the power to truly hurt him in the boxing world, and played his usual defensive counter punching card. With McGregor, Mayweather seemed to downplay any power and marched forward, taking and allowing any strike McGregor wanted.
It was in the fifth round that we saw not only Mayweather seemingly figure out McGregor, but also McGregor gas before our very eyes. His per round average for punches landed and attempted prior to the start of the fifth was 10.5 of 45, but from the fifth to the eighth round, McGregor’s totals were 55 of 205, 26%, or a per round average of 13.75 of 51.25. While these numbers are higher, it was obvious his power had deteriorated, and many punches were simply to score points and not to do much damage. On the flip side, Mayweather’s number’s show 80 of 165, 48%, or a per round average of 20 of 41.25, compared to 7 and 14.75 over rounds 1-4.
Breaking these numbers down, we see:
McGregor: round 1-4, 28 of 140 power punches, 20%, 15 of 40 jabs 37%, 42 of 180 total punches, 23%
Mayweather: round 1-4, 25 of 50 power punches, 50%, 3 of 9 jabs, 33%, 28 of 59 total punches, 47%
McGregor: round 5-8, 45 of 157 power punches, 28%, 10 of 48 jabs, 21%, 55 of 205 total punches, 27%
Mayweather: round 5-8, 68 of 130 power punches, 52%, 12 of 35 jabs, 34%, 80 of 185 total punches, 43%.
Comparing to the Pacquiao bout, we see:
Mayweather: round 1-4, 24 of 50 power punches, 48%, 22 of 76 jabs, 29%, 46 of 126 total punches, 37%.
Pacquiao: round 1-4, 23 of 89 power punches, 26%, 3 of 69 jabs, 4%, 26 of 158 total punches, 16%
Mayweather: round 5-8, 25 of 48 power punches, 52%, 37 of 111 jabs, 33%, 62 of 159 total punches, 39%
Pacquiao: round 5-8, 20 of 68 power punches, 29%, 8 of 58 jabs, 16%, 28 of 126 total punches, 22%
In typical Mayweather fashion, he clearly lands more while throwing less, and takes less while making his opponent throw more. At the end of the 8th round, we see totals of:
McGregor: 73 of 297 power punches, 33%, 28 of 88 jabs, 32%, 101 of 385 total punches, 26%.
Mayweather: 93 of 180 power punches, 52%, 15 of 44 jabs, 34%, 111 of 224 total punches, 50%.
While the bout did continue for another 4 minutes, it was in the eighth round that Mayweather truly began to impose his will on McGregor, and in the ninth and small portion of the tenth, the numbers show just how dominant he was:
McGregor: round 9-10, 12 of 35 power punches, 34%, 5 of 25 jabs, 20%, 17 of 60 total punches, 28%.
Mayweather: round 9-10, 59 of 81 power punches, 73%, 3 of 15 jabs, 20%, 62 of 96 total punches, 65%.
With all said and done, the final punch stats look as follows, with the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight below:
McGregor: 84 of 332 power punches, 25%, 27 of 98 jabs, 28%, 111 of 430 total punches, 26%.
Mayweather: 152 of 261 power punches, 58%, 18 of 59 jabs, 31%, 170 of 320 total punches, 53%.
Mayweather: 81 of 168 power punches, 48%, 67 of 267 jabs, 25%, 148 of 435 total punches, 34%.
Pacquiao: 63 of 236 power punches, 27%, 18 of 193 jabs, 9%, 81 of 429 total punches, 19%.
Now I am sure people may be asking why do the numbers against Pacquiao matter here? Well that answer is simple. As soon as Mayweather/McGregor ended, every McGregor fan began to downplay the loss and look for “moral victories”, one of these being the number of punches landed. And yes, he did land 30 more total punches then Pacquiao did, but the Mayweather we saw against Pacquiao was not the same we saw against McGregor.
In rounds 1-4, McGregor landed 23% of his total strikes, while Pacquiao landed 16%, but McGregor’s percentage are skewed by a large volume of jabs landed, 15-3 compared to Pqcquiao. On the flip side, Mayweather only landed 3 jabs vs. McGregor, as opposed to 22 against Pacquiao. Mayweathers lack of jabs can be attributed to his willingness to attack McGregor with disregard, while his approach to Pacquiao was far more calculated and risk adverse.
Rounds 5-8 for McGregor show 27% contact, where Pacquiao carried a 22% connect rate, but again, Mayweather’s volume went up tremendously against McGregor, 185 total punches, and 130 of them power punch attempts. Against Pacquiao, Mayweather attempted 159 punches, with only 48 of them power attempts. Simply put, a more aggressive Mayweather allowed for high punch totals from McGregor, and lower numbers from Pacquiao. The amount of jabs thrown and landed in each fight should tell you all you need to know about the differences between both matchups for all three men.
To somehow convince yourself that because McGregor landed 111 punches against the defensive wizard that is Mayweather is ridiculous, if only for the fact that we did not see that version of Mayweather which we saw against Pacquiao.
When Marcos Maidana faced off against Mayweather for the first time in 2014, he was able to land a whopping 221 punches, 185 of them power punches. His percentages however, 26% total and 34% power, look mediocre when compared to Mayweather’s, 230 total landed, 54%, and 178 power landed, 65%. If there was a performance against Mayweather in recent years to praise, it was this one, not one simply because McGregor landed roughly 10 punches per round against a man fighting with a style that allowed for such numbers. Don’t forget, at the time of the stoppage, Mayweather was ahead on all three official scorecards, 87-83, 89-81 and 89-82. Accordingly, after 9 rounds, Mayweather led Pacquiao 87-84, 87-84 and 88-83.
Imagine if the “Money” version of Mayweather had entered the ring on Saturday night, and what kind of numbers we would be looking at for McGregor, vice versa for the Pacquiao fight with “Pretty Boy”. Its one thing to applaud McGregor for stepping into the ring at all, but it’s another to play with the numbers and facts to make it seem better then it was. Mayweather did what he always does to an opponent, he just did it differently against McGregor, seemingly to prove a point that he was simply better any way McGregor wanted the fight to play out.