Floyd Mayweather Jr scored a 10th round stoppage Saturday against mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Conor McGregor, who had outworked the boxing legend in the early rounds before tiring later.
The boxing newcomer from Ireland outperformed most expectations in a bout that was overwhelmingly derided as a mismatch by combat sports commentators.
Mayweather, now 50-0 in his career, said he was retiring with no intention to fight again and called McGregor “the right dance partner” for his last performance.
Mayweather said his game plan had been to “take our time … and then take him out down the stretch.”
McGregor said he was “clear-headed” when referee Robert Byrd stepped in early in the 10th round.
“He’s not that fast, he’s not that powerful, but boy is he composed in there,” McGregor said before leaving the ring. “That’s what 50 pro fights will give you.”
McGregor started taking deeper breaths in the fourth round and was visibly slowing by the seventh. His defences crumbled in the ninth as he ate Mayweather punches for 90 seconds to end the round.
In the 10th, Mayweather continued the assault, and the end came a moment after another head shot bounced McGregor off the ropes. But the underdog, who has held belts in two weight classes in MMA’s top organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), remained standing.
McGregor appeared to have outworked Mayweather in the first three rounds and kept the next four very close, but none of the three judges from the Nevada Athletic Commission, the state’s combat sports regulatory body, gave the upstart more than two rounds on what proved to be unnecessary scorecards.
McGregor said he thought the fight was close and insisted he was tired but not dazed at the end.
“I thought it was a bit early of a stoppage,” he said. “I get a little wobbly when I’m fatigued. … Let the man put me down. … Let me wobble back to me corner, let me try to recompose me self.”
McGregor came out to the ring in white trunks with the green, white and orange Irish flag draped over his shoulders. Mayweather in black and gold shorts walked out under a black ski mask.
McGregor set the tone in the early seconds, as Mayweather retreated to the ropes and shelled up within a few seconds of the bell to open the first round, absorbing a barrage of punches to the body and forearms.
The southpaw McGregor landed a clean left midway through the round to the jaw of Mayweather, who is considered one of the greatest defensive boxers ever.
McGregor soon taunted Mayweather in the first before setting a fight-long pattern of hammer-style punches – legal in MMA but banned in boxing – that earned him warnings in the second and third rounds.
The noticeably larger, longer McGregor showed a strength advantage throughout the bout.