The betting lines may fluctuate as Aug. 26 approaches, but there is no doubt that Conor McGregor will be a massive underdog against Floyd Mayweather.
McGregor, the only man to hold two belts simultaneously in the UFC, owns a 21-3 professional record in mixed martial arts. His tenure in the Octagon has included impressive victories over the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Nate Diaz, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway, to name a few. However, the 28-year-old Irishman has no professional boxing bouts to his credit, and he will be entering the ring against one of the greatest talents the Sweet Science has ever seen.
Even if McGregor is dominated by Mayweather, who has captured multiple championships and is 49-0 in boxing, UFC President Dana White doesn’t see a downside to the matchup. In his mind, neither the UFC’s nor McGregor’s reputation will take a hit in defeat.
“Absolutely not. At the end of the day these two guys wanted this fight. The fans wanted this fight. Conor is a mixed martial artist going into a boxing match with arguably the greatest boxer of all time,” White said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I don’t think it damages the brand or Conor McGregor at all. I think it actually elevates Conor McGregor. The fact that this kid who has so much to lose is willing to step in and is absolutely confident that he will win this fight. I think it’s one of the many reasons that people love Conor McGregor. Win lose or draw it will be one of the reasons that people continue to love Conor McGregor.”
During his time in the Octagon, McGregor has showcased dangerous power in his hands. At a UFC level, most would agree that his boxing is well above average. Still, it figures to be a whole different ballgame when McGregor and Mayweather strap on the 10-ounce gloves in the ring this summer.
“Is he at the level of a Floyd Mayweather as far as boxing standards go? No. But the kid is a southpaw…If there’s ever been a kink in the armor with [Mayweather], that’s been with southpaws,” White said. “Conor is an absolute knockout artist. When he hits you, you go. That’s part of the fun of this fight: Is Conor McGregor in a 12-round fight going to be a able to touch Floyd Mayweather?”
Meanwhile, Showtime Sports Executive Vice President & General Manager Stephen Espinoza has balked at taking a boxing vs. MMA stance heading into the bout.
“I think the best analogy here is it’s NASCAR and Formula One. NASCAR is not going to replace Formula One and Formula One is not going to replace NASCAR,” Espinoza said. “You see some crossover, a driver from Formula One will try NASCAR — no one makes a big deal about it. They say, ‘Oh that will be interesting to see how the skills transfer.’ I think that’s what we’re talking about here.”
And even if McGregor is able to somehow do what no professional boxer has ever done — defeat Mayweather — Espinoza doesn’t believe it would signal MMA’s superiority over boxing.
“This is not a referendum on the sport of boxing or the sport of MMA. It’s a competition between Floyd and Conor,” he said. “If Conor is victorious, what that means is Conor beat Floyd and we have a really interesting potential rematch maybe down the line. But that’s all it means. It’s not a victory for one sport or the other regardless of who wins.”
« Previous Showtime Boxing Releases Official Poster for Mayweather vs. McGregor Next Nate Diaz Offers Reminder of First Fight vs. McGregor Following Mayweather Announcement »