The American overcame a slow start to punish the Irishman before eventually referee Robert Byrd ended the bout. McGregor was out on his feet on the ropes as Mayweather peppered him with right hands. The ending was conclusive as the boxing great surpassed Rocky Marciano’s long-standing 49-0 record. McGregor earned himself plenty of respect though for being able to stay in that long against a boxing great such as Mayweather. But the fact he was making his professional debut in a 12-round fight was shown as he faded dramatically after the fourth round and it became the cakewalk Mayweather promised it would be.
This was billed as a mega fight and one that the world supposedly desperately wanted. Boxing purists were against it but the attention was huge despite it being a future hall of fame fighter against a debutant. But no matter what your view was on the actual fight, millions tuned in to witness this. The hype was huge and the buzz was brilliant with the Irish fans descended on the Strip to create the noise and help Las Vegas take in £150m this week.
The atmosphere inside the 19,000-seat T-Mobile Arena was electric when the fighters made their way to the ring after being very sterile during the undercard action. There were fears that the eye-watering ticket prices would mean that it was all celebrities and high rollers taking the seats and they wouldn’t create a great atmosphere.
There obviously a long list of celebs ringside including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, basketball star LeBron James and actor Jamie Foxx. But while there were mostly high-earners in here, plenty of McGregor fans broke the bank to get in and roared their hero on as he walked to a ring for the first time in his professional career. The ring walks were strange as Mayweather wore a ski mask as part of his gold and black outfit. Mayweather promised a stoppage and he delivered on his word. But he had to wait for it as he didn’t get it all his own way at the start. The heavy favourite heading into the bout found it difficult at first to deal with McGregor’s size. McGregor constantly popped out shots and Mayweather couldn’t get inside his longer reach.
There was a moment where the arena started to feel there was a shock on the cards. But despite landing plenty of jabs and some accurate left hands from his southpaw stance, McGregor couldn’t really hurt the American. The Irishman continually switched his stance which was also giving Mayweather problems but the American was being patient and simply working out the unorthodox style. McGregor got fortunate to avoid a point deduction after his numerous shots to the back of the head which brought about jeers from the crowd. Mayweather started to go to the body in the fourth and those shots slowed his opponent. He also got through with a couple of right hands before taking control of the contest in the fifth.
It was simple from then on for the boxing great. Mayweather, more renowned for his defensive class, walked at McGregor as he piled on the pressure sensing the Irishman had tired. The Dubliner’s stance switching and constant punching soon vanished. Mayweather was happy to launch big attacks, landing big rights whenever he wanted as the avid gambler put it all on the line for a stoppage. There were still a lot of clinches and McGregor firing to the back of the head which made it all the more bizarre. But those in the arena were glued to the action and loving every second. They were all on their feet in the sixth as it looked like the stoppage would come but McGregor survived. Mayweather continued to pile forward and really rocked the Irishman in the ninth with a superb combination followed by a succession of rights.
He seemed desperate to get the stoppage in that round and, although it would not come, it was only a matter of time. The fans knew this was over as a contest and everyone but the Irish were just hoping they would get a big knockout. Mayweather came out at the start of the 10th and put it on McGregor again. The Irishman was wobbled numerous times as he staggered around the ring barely able to stand up.
Mayweather sensed it was coming and pinned him on the ropes before lashing in shots to the body and head. Byrd eventually stepped in to wave it off as McGregor lay defenceless on the ropes. McGregor complained afterwards that the stoppage was too early and he wanted to go through the final two rounds. But this is a sport where the referee has to protect the participants and Byrd called it off at the right time having given the Irishman every chance while also being lenient on the foul shots. Mayweather now retires with a record of 50-0 but this will not go down as one of his greatest wins despite it being his first stoppage victory since he beat Victor Ortiz in 2011.