Conor McGregor

Mayweather finishes off McGregor in 10th to reach 50-0

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. figured out a 50th opponent, letting Conor McGregor have the early rounds before stalking him late and leaving the mixed martial artist defenseless and exhausted on the ropes.

Mayweather battered McGregor around the ring in the later rounds, finally stopping him at 1:05 of the 10th round Saturday night with a flurry of punches that forced referee Robert Byrd to stop the fight.

Before a pro-McGregor crowd that roared every time the UFC star landed a punch, Mayweather methodically broke him down after a slow start to score his first real stoppage in nearly a decade. He did it in what he said would be his final fight, against a fighter who had never been in a professional boxing match.

McGregor boxed surprisingly well early. But after landing some shots in the first three rounds, his punches seemed to lose their steam, and Mayweather went on the pursuit. McGregor backpedaled most of the way, stopping only to throw an occasional flurry as Mayweather wore him down.

“I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see,” Mayweather said. “I owed them for the (Manny) Pacquiao fight.”

McGregor had vowed to knock Mayweather out within two rounds, and he won the early rounds with movement and punches to the head. But the tide of the fight turned in the fourth round as Mayweather seemed to figure out what he had to do and began aggressively stalking McGregor.

“I turned him into a Mexican tonight,” McGregor said. “He fought like a Mexican.”

In a fight so intriguing that it cost $10,000 for ringside seats, McGregor turned in a respectable performance for someone in his first fight. But Mayweather’s experience and his ring savvy paid off as he executed his game plan to perfection.

“Our game plan was to take our time, go to him and take him out in the end,” Mayweather said. “I guaranteed everybody this fight wouldn’t go the distance.”

Mayweather was widely criticized for not going after Pacquiao in their megafight, and he didn’t make the same mistake this time. In a fight that could make him $200 million he seemed to stagger McGregor with a series of punches in the ninth round, then came back in the 10th eager to finish it off.

McGregor went over and hugged Mayweather. He seemed almost happy in the ring afterward, secure that he had given a good performance even in losing.

“I was a little fatigued,” he said. “He was composed in there, that’s what 50 pro fights can give you.”

Mayweather ran his record to 50-0, surpassing Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record and giving himself a great parting gift. He repeated afterward that he was not going to fight again.

“This is my last fight for sure. 50-0 sounds good, I’m looking forward to going into the Hall of Fame,” Mayweather said. “I picked the best dance partner to do it with.”

Irish fans arrived by the thousands in the days before the fight, filling the arena for the weigh-in and boisterously cheering for their man. They even went off in the middle of the night and spray painted an Irish flag and “49-1” on a billboard on Interstate 15 promoting Mayweather’s businesses.

The capacity crowd at the arena cheered McGregor on, but they quieted as the fight progressed and Mayweather showed his dominance.

Mayweather vs. McGregor odds move closer to parity as fight nears

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While no one can say with certainty how Conor McGregor will fare in a boxing ring when it matters, his price is lower than that of Buster Douglas before his epic heavyweight upset of Mike Tyson back in 1990.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a -400 betting favorite to defeat the +300 underdog McGregor in their boxing match on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

A deluge of action on McGregor from bettors looking for a big payout has continually squeezed the lines closer and closer since the first rumblings about McGregor, the two-division UFC champion, making a combat sports cross-over to fight the 49-0 Mayweather. At one point, Mayweather was a -2250 favorite with McGregor coming back at +950.

It’s a scheduled 12-round match, with the fighters slated to compete at 154 pounds and wear 10-ounce gloves, which are 2½ times heaver than what McGregor wears in the UFC.

While everyone has an opinion about how the bout might play out, straight-up wagering might not be the way to go on Saturday. The 40-year-old Mayweather, who has been laid off just two weeks shy of two years, still has to show he has the timing that has made him one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time.

With McGregor getting mixed reviews on the boxing skills he’s exhibited in sparring sessions, Mayweather at -125 for a victory by knockout, technical knockout or disqualification on the betting props for Saturday’s fight offers a fair return.

Mayweather winning by decision – the way he wins most of his fights against full-time boxers  – pays +250. McGregor is at +350 on the KO/TKO/DQ prop and +1200 for a win by decision, which is far and away the least likely outcome.

McGregor, at age 26, is much younger and has fought much more recently than Mayweather and will also come in with a reach advantage. Mayweather has had some difficulty in the past adapting to southpaws, so there might be some openings for McGregor to land some shots early.

McGregor will also keep face if he goes the distance, win or lose, so that aforementioned +250 on Mayweather by decision could pan out as a safe play.

Those who are true believers in “Mystic Mac” can also take him to win in the first four rounds, which pays out at odds of +500.

As far as odds on how many rounds the fight will go, the under is plus money up until 6.5 rounds, and does not drop to 2/1 until under 4.0 rounds, which pays +200. There is plus money on the over starting at 8.0 rounds.

Mayweather and McGregor end press tour with a bang in London

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Sometime before Floyd Mayweather Jr. stole Conor McGregor’s microphone and before McGregor walked behind Mayweather and pretended to spank him, it might have been hard to understand why all this was happening.

The four press conferences in four days. The insults and posturing. The clothes. Nobody seems to be talking about the 40-year boxing legend with increasingly public financial problems getting paid to fight an MMA star in his first-ever boxing match.

And that’s the whole point.

No matter what goes down on August 26, when Mayweather and McGregor finally put on boxing gloves and start punching each other, Friday’s press conference in London will live on in sports history.

Here are some of the best moments:

McGregor calls Mayweather’s body guards “Juice Head Turkeys”

McGregor has called out pretty much every member of Mayweather’s entourage this week, including his body guards. Earlier on the press tour, Mayweather ordered his security team to surround McGregor and some minor shoving ensued.

Apparently, the incident left a mark. McGregor had some choice words for those body guards on Friday and called them “juice head turkeys” from inside the ring.

Feel free to Google that expression, unless you’re offended by Thanksgiving arts and crafts or holiday recipes.

McGregor rubs Mayweather’s head

If McGregor were fighting, say, Adrian Beltre, this wouldn’t have gone down so smoothly.

But in one of the more revealing moments of the press conference, Mayweather  tried visibly not to laugh as McGregor rubbed his head and cracked some bald jokes. His best line might have been pointing out Mayweather’s fondness for wearing hats in public and asking him “What the [expletive] were you hiding under that thing?”

Mayweather does a chokehold in front of McGregor

McGregor’s most recent loss came against Nate Diaz in 2016, as the Irish fighter tapped out when Diaz put him in a rear naked choke-hold. Mayweather didn’t plan on letting McGregor forget that on Friday. Imitating the MMA move in front of his opponent, Mayweather even had his DJ cue up a few bars of Rich Gang’s 2013 single “Tapout.”

He then asked the decidedly pro-McGregor crowd why they decided to put their faith in “this quitter,” before asking them to get Nate Diaz on the phone.

“If you quit once, you quite twice,” Mayweather said. “If you quit twice, you quit three times. But on the fourth time, I’m going to knock you the [expletive] out.”