Conor McGregor claimed he has never seen Floyd Mayweather in worse physical shape as the pair exchanged words at a raucous weigh-in in Las Vegas. McGregor weighed in at 153lbs for Saturday’s 154lb fight, with Mayweather 149.5lbs, before a face-off that drew roars from the thousands in attendance. McGregor screamed in the face of his rival and paraded around the stage as Mayweather cut a reserved figure. McGregor said: “He looks blown out, full of water. That’s the worst shape I’ve ever seen him in. I am going to breeze through him, trust me.”
The build-up to the fight at the T-Mobile Arena has at times resembled a soap opera but finally it’s here. Mayweather, who at the age of 40 has come out of retirement for a 50th and final bout, said: “I know what it takes when it’s a fight of this magnitude. Weight doesn’t win fights, fighting wins fights. It won’t go the distance, mark my words. This will be Conor McGregor’s last fight also.”
Some in Las Vegas thought McGregor’s more conservative performance at Wednesday’s final news conference intimated he might be coming to terms with the realities of making his boxing debut against one of the greatest fighters of his generation. But playing to a crowd filled with Irish colours and songs, he revelled in his reception – and in the boos for Mayweather – beating his chest and screaming repeatedly.
Many from within boxing have rubbished the match, choosing to refer to it as an “event” rather than a fight. But the dissatisfaction of the boxing purist looks unlikely to affect the mass audience, with the bout being screened in more than 220 countries, according to Showtime executive vice-president Stephen Espinoza.
That global reach could see the record of 4.6 million pay-per-view buys – set when Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao in 2015 – beaten. Watching the fight costs a minimum of £20 in the UK but about £75 in the US. This, added to ticket sales, merchandise and sponsorship, makes for a healthy pot. Tickets are also on sale to watch in bars on the Las Vegas strip, while more than 400 cinemas across the US will broadcast the event. There will also be live commentary from Las Vegas on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website and app. It all means more than $600m could be generated. Mayweather is expected to make about $300m, McGregor $100m.
There have been reports ‘Money Man’ has not taken McGregor seriously. Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr, this week said his son had lost “a lot” of his ability since retiring in 2015. But a 50th career win from 50 fights would carry his son past the late Rocky Marciano’s perfect 49-fight record, rounding off a dominant professional career that began after he won bronze at the 1996 Olympics.
Facts: Mayweather has boxed 387 professional rounds, McGregor none. 26 of Mayweather’s 49 wins were on points but in 23 of those wins he was given the decision unanimously. Mayweather has been knocked down once in his career. He took an eight count against Carlos Hernandez in 2001.
Additional opinion gave Packie Collins, trainer and brother of former world champion Steve: “I’ve been around the game for a long time, even based in America with my brother when Marvin Hagler was fighting. I’ve never seen anyone train or practise as hard as Conor McGregor. I give him a chance in there.” The formar two- weight world champion Chris Eubank added: “Everyone is underestimating the Irish spirit. They have ghost-like spirit in warfare. I’ve felt it. I’m still wondering now how I got beat by Steve Collins in 1995. If McGregor pulls it off it is arguably the greatest upset in history. Everything can happen, that’s why I’ve travelled. It is not a farce.” And Floyd’s uncle Jeff Mayweather summarized: “Everyone knows what this fight is about. It’s about money. Conor McGregor boxed at one point in his life but didn’t master it. Floyd is a master at it.”
May the best fighter win!