Boxing Analysis: Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Conor McGregor

Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor is set to be a fight for the ages. This article previews the fight and our boxing experts give their tip for the encounter.

From Cash Grab To Real Fight

What started as a verbal publicity tool by the two best self-promoters in combat sports is now a legitimate fight. Not only is the event going ahead but the betting suggests that we have a real fight on our hands.

While Floyd Mayweather remains the heavy favourite, Conor McGregor has been heavily supported by both passive fans and punting professionals, driving his odds into legitimacy.

The Matchup

The best defensive pound for pound fighter of all time, Floyd Mayweather, comes out of retirement (again) to seek a 50-0 professional boxing record. Despite Mayweather’s age (40) it shouldn’t be forgotten that he has been the greatest fighter of this generation, has won world title fights in five weight classes and has even beaten the second best boxer of the same period (Manny Pacquiao).

Whilst Mayweather hasn’t won a fight by knockout since 2011, when Victor Ortiz felt he was blindsided, his victories have been decisive.

The same can be said for Conor McGregor. Only they’ve occurred in a different sport. The powerful Irishman is 21-3 in the octagon, with 18 knockouts. McGregor hasn’t had a professional boxing fight, probably the biggest factor influencing betting, but he does have a slight advantage in height and reach. He’s also an unorthodox southpaw with a style that Mayweather has never seen before.

McGregor is also uncompromisingly confident, predicting that “Floyd will be unconscious inside of four rounds.”

Given his prediction success in the UFC, punters have responded to these comments, as well as recent boxing footage of McGregor dominating Paulie Malignaggi.

The Betting

McGregor’s odds have tumbled in betting markets. He traded at up to $12 when the fight was announced, with his odds floating currently floating between $4.50 and $5.

A McGregor upset looms as a nightmare result for corporate bookmakers as the wider public are price insensitive, happy to back the Irishman at any price. Partly because they love the charismatic UFC champion, partly because they want to see Mayweather finally get knocked out. These emotive bets means you will struggle to find any McGregor betting options that exceed the Betfair Exchange. The corporate bookmaker exposure to the Irishman forcing them to offer “unders” across the board.

The Professional Sentiment

Punting professionals collectively thought that Mayweather would avoid McGregor’s dangerous left hand and simple out-box a rookie boxer. Floyd would either knock out a fatiguing McGregor in the later rounds or clinically dominate the referee score cards as he has done in so many previous decision victories.

That sentiment is shared by the wider boxing community too:

Lennox Lewis: “Floyd will stop him. He’s just too good at boxing for McGregor and McGregor is too inexperienced at boxing. He can’t use his other styles.”

Ricky Hatton: “I feel embarrassed to say this but I’d be very surprised if (McGregor) wins a round… I think it could be a 12-round onslaught, to be honest with you.”

Freddie Roach on Conor McGregor: “He’s fun to watch. He’s a character, but again, he’s not much of a fighter… I think he’s a four-round fighter at this point.”

However, the recent support for McGregor on the Betfair Exchange defies professional expectations and is making this matchup even more interesting.


Round Betting

Another popular area to bet on is the round betting. The Exchange has a bunch of relevant markets, all filling up with liquidity.

Punters can get roughly 29-1 for McGregor to win the fight in the first round, with mirroring odds for rounds two to four. You can also specifically select McGregor’s prediction of ending the fight in the first four rounds in another betting market on the Exchange.

Betting Context

To show just how surprising Floyd’s current odds are, let’s reflect on the super fight with Manny Pacquiao. Their biggest purse in boxing history matchup, which will be eclipsed by this fight on August 26th, pitted the two best fighters of their generation against each other. The timing of the fight wasn’t ideal but Pacquiao had as good a chance as anyone of beating the undefeated Mayweather.

Yet Mayweather’s odds were as short as $1.30 at some points during the lead up. Floyd eventually drifted, hitting $1.65 as the fight date approached, but it’s unfathomable to think that Conor McGregor at one point had as much chance as Manny Pacquiao. McGregor has never boxed while Pacquiao is a boxing immortal.

Our Take

You have to believe that Mayweather’s odds will shorten before the fight, providing he is 100% healthy. The casual betting money will pour in globally for McGregor but this looks a classic matchup of the professional vs the amateur. In the boxing ring and in the betting ring.

Professional punters will support the 49-0 Mayweather at once in a career odds whilst the casual observer will emotionally (and financially) support the underdog.

A Mayweather TKO looks the most likely outcome but the $1.89 Method of Victory result comes with its own risks, particularly as 40 year old Floyd has had his punching power diminish.

The match odds, where over $30 million has already been matched, seems the safest place to support Mayweather.

Method of Victory

The most popular result is Floyd Mayweather winning by KO, TKO or DQ. That option has fluctuated from $2.25 to $1.75 to $1.89. Mayweather hasn’t won like this since 2011 but Conor’s inexperience makes this option favourite. If Floyd isn’t able to overwhelm Conor with skill and accumulated contact, this option also includes Disqualification. That outcome isn’t usually common in boxing but Conor’s mixed martial arts background makes it more likely.

If you think Conor is going to be caught out for dirty boxing, grappling or an unlikely leg kick, then you can back DQ in the Exact Method Of Victory market at $12.

For McGregor, the betting shows that if the Irishmen is to win it will be by knockout. His KO, TKO or DQ option is only slighter greater than his odds of winning the fight.

Strangely, for Floyd Mayweather, a decision victory is currently greater than $4. This reflects punters taking $1.38 that the fight won’t go the distance.

Betting Strategy

What began as a publicity stunt is now a competitive fight. Floyd Mayweather’s drifting odds are concerning for boxing rationalists. However, they also appear irresistible.

It’s rarely lucrative, or enjoyable, to cheer against Conor McGregor but his inexperience provides a glaring opportunity. We can’t see the best defensive boxer of all time getting caught by a fight ending shot.

  BACK – Mayweather Jr

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