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.

Lomachenko stops Linares in 10th, wins lightweight title

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NEW YORK (AP) Vasiliy Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in the 10th round of their lightweight championship fight Saturday night, winning a title in his third weight class in just his 12th pro bout.

Lomachenko landed a hard left to the body during a flurry of precision punches that sent Linares went to a knee. Linares finally got up just as the count was reaching 10 but referee Ricky Gonzalez called an end to the fight at 2:08 of the round.

Linares knocked down Lomachenko in the sixth and the fight was all even after nine rounds before Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) put an overpowering end to his first fight at 135 pounds, adding that title to his belts at 126 and 130 pounds.

Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) hadn’t lost since 2012 and used his size advantage to do some damage, but in the end Lomachenko did more in an exciting Madison Square Garden match.

The fighter widely known as Vasyl said this week he prefers to use Vasiliy, his legal name. And now he can be called lightweight champion after picking up the WBA’s version of the belt in front of a crowd of 10,429 that chanted “Loma! Loma!” and waved blue and gold flags for much of the night.

It was Lomachenko’s eighth straight victory by stoppage, but this one was much tougher than a recent stretch of clinics in which his last four fights ended when his opponents’ corners wouldn’t let them take more punishment from the Ukrainian.

Lomachenko had joked he should be called “no mas Chenko” for his habit of making opponents quit, but Linares made him earn this victory.

The Venezuelan was on a 13-fight winning streak and was giving the two-time Olympic gold medalist the test he wanted, one that he said would bring out the best in what many already consider the most skilled fighter in the world.

Each fighter was ahead 86-84 on a judge’s card, while Julie Lederman had it 85-all after nine rounds.

Lomachenko said Thursday he needed to finally be put in danger to show his complete array of skills, and then on display in the 10th round with a series of shots that Linares couldn’t defend, especially the left to his midsection that took the biggest toll.

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

Golovkin makes short work of Martirosyan with 2nd round KO

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Gennady Golovkin won his 20th consecutive middleweight title defense with a second-round knockout of Vanes Martirosyan on Saturday night.

Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) tied Bernard Hopkins’ record for middleweight title defenses by sending Martirosyan down at 1:53 of the second round.

After being tagged with a strong three-punch combination from Martirosyan (36-4-1) late in the first round, Golovkin responded with a devastating charge in the second. He started the onslaught with a short left and pounced on the damaged Martirosyan, finally dropping him with two powerful lefts.

The fight was arranged at the last minute after Golovkin’s rematch with Canelo Alavarez fell apart. Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a draw last September and were set to meet again in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo before Alvarez was suspended for six months by the Nevada Athletic Commission in April after failing a March drug test.

With the lucrative fight against Alvarez scuttled until this fall at the earliest, Golovkin was eventually able to put together a replacement bout in Southern California, where he built up a strong following with a series of title defenses at StubHub Center and the Forum. Despite short notice and a modest card, promotors expected Golovkin to draw a record-crowd for boxing at StubHub Center of more than 9,000.

Golovkin said he would take on all comers, including Alvarez.

“I want everyone,” Golovkin said. “I have a lot of belts. I challenge anyone to come and take my belts. I don’t care who. Let’s clean out the division.”

In the first women’s fight on HBO in the cable network’s 45-year history of broadcasting boxing, undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus (33-0) remained undefeated with a unanimous decision win over Kali Reis (13-7-1).

Braekhus won 97-92, 96-93 and 96-93 on the three scorecards despite being knocked down to one knee by a hard right from Reis in the seventh round. Reis nearly dropped Braekhus again in the eighth with another hard right, and the crowd booed when the result was announced after Reis’ late charge.

UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg attended the fight and confirmed her interest in boxing against Braekhus.