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The Mayweather - McGregor Show - Legendary Striking Event or Bad Matchmaking for a gigantic payday ?

The event of the year? The event of the decade? The biggest hype both in boxing and in the MMA world? A whirlwind that brought the MMA world and the boxing world together. But what's going on on 26, meaning really, really soon?

We're closing on the most awaited event of 2017 in the world of both boxing and combat sports. The fight between Floyd Mayweather (49-0 in professional boxing) and Conor McGregor (21-3 in professional MMA).
The rules are pure boxing. We have a ring and a referee and only two weapons available. Fists.
And the odds are a subject of both mystery and speculation.

Floyd Mayweather is a consummate pure boxer standing at a height of 5 ft 8 inches (173 cm) and a reach of 72 inches (183 cm).
Conor McGregor is a MMA fighter with some pure boxing background and a striking game centered on boxing standing at a height of 5 ft 9 inches (175 cm) and a reach of 74 inches (188 cm).

Relating exclusively to these stats doesn't offer a large reach advantage to Conor, but since Mayweather is boxing from a slightly forwarded stance and Conor McGregor seems to stand tall and sometimes lean slightly backwards, the distance that Floyd needs to cover in a standing trade or static exchange is larger than we'd expect on the first sight.
Add the Orthodox vs Southpaw setup and we're already talking about a theoretical lead hand suppresion game and a rear hand sniper-game following.

None of the two is a swarmer, therefore the swarming method gets ruled out and since both are known as counterpunchers, swarming is not the best approach for this kind of setup.
Mayweather is known for his "pull counters" and "slippery defense" and McGregor for his powerful left hand and unorthodox angles.

That leads everyone into believing that the striking exchanges will consist in a headhunting McGregor and a backpedalling Mayweather (as we've been used to seeing him backpedal, circle around and win decisions).
But what makes this match interesting besides two counterpunchers in reversed stances who will be reluctant into trading blows and might sleep the crowd off is based on the varied scenarios that might emerge from the actual possibilities and stylistic setup of both.

Both are accurate punchers when it comes to hit/miss ratio and yet their basic strike setups are both nullified.

For example, Conor McGregor is known for his left hand straight. And he steadies the opponents into the line for the left straight by taking away their option of leaning/weaving to their right with his left leg (typical southpaw kickboxer strategy – left rear high/mid kick and left rear straight are synergic into keeping the opponent guessing or one strike setting up the other in the next exchange – if you duck to your right, you get headkicked, if you don't duck, the rear left straight will land).

That's going out the window since this is a boxing match and Floyd's lateral (bladed) stance will favour the right-side leaning without the option of being punished with a left head kicking (boxing, remember?).

Mayweather's pull counter relies on him having his head forward as a bait and as the opponent aims and fires, he pulls back and counters with his right hand and drops off to his left while the strike lands. This works on a orthodox to orthodox stance, but on a orthodox to southpaw stance with s guy like McGregor which is twitchy into leaning to different sides, it is clearly that he'll mostly commit to left handed strikes with the elbow flared (that kind of punch that makes an amateur striking trainer say "That's not a correct punch"). The strong side to this is that you can't pull counter over the top since you're gonna land your forearm or hand on a flared elbow. That's not even a point and it can nullify your hand out of the fight. And Floyd had a history of broken hands due to passionate, reckless punching. He's not gonna do it again.

This is just an example of two typical approaches that are nullified in this match.

They both have physical vulnerabilities that can be exploited (in a limited amount in a boxing ring).

Mayweather's hands aren't as tough as they were and hitting a tough surface (elbows especially) will be a disaster, even with the double handwraps and the 8oz gloves chosen especially to keep his hands braced in the double wrapping glove. If he gets his hands or forearms spiked by an elbow, he's gonna drop his rate and/or power.

And that could lead to him not being able to punch his way to a decision.

Conor's left knee gave him trouble in the past. That being his back leg. And his balance during movement requires the back leg steadying him up constantly. If that knee gives up on him during the match, we're gonna see him forced to turret-and-strike (like in the Mendes fight where he had to stop and steady Mendes in order to throw his left hand). And that's not gonna work with Floyd's movement.

When it comes to physical shape, as they both try to look very sharp we can notice two distinct aspects:

Their overall physical appearance and their natural walk-weight. Conor is clearly the heavier man and has conditioned himself to a more long-run approach. His body is leaner, thinner and he seems to be more agile, less explosive. That's gonna be a heavy toll and there is a small risk of seeing a lower power output from McGregor.

Mayweather on the other hand has to both stay in shape and maintain the strength needed to clinch and box the larger opponent. And he doesn't look as fit and sharp as he did in the past. Maybe father time found the perfect moment to manifest. After all, he hasn't been preparing for a fight in the last two years and he is after all, around the age of 40. McGregor is not even 30.

Psychologically, they're both under pressure, but both are used to compete at this level. And McGregor has shown great prowess when it comes to hardship and challenging transitions before.

We'll have to now take a step back and look at what we've seen in the open workouts and during the media releases.

Floyd didn't show much and he seems to work on his speed and coordination mostly. We're already expecting that to be one of the concerns of a good-cardio elite boxer's training team. He doesn't have the chin or the duress to stand and trade in a slugfest with a younger powerpuncher who is highly uncharacteristical. He's gonna fox his way through this match, since coordination and experience benefit him greatly at this point.

McGregor showed some strange stuff that caused reaction in the media, jokes and mostly looking like he's not preparingfor a boxing match where he is the power puncher.
But we all know it's not the first time the slick irish team shows us random stuff just to cover up their golden gameplan until the fight emerges. They're well known for their open workout shenanigans that mask their intentions so well, regarding their gameplans, so it's not like we'd be fooled for the first time if we'd take their public sessions as gameplan hints.

Physically Floyd looks relatively in shape. McGregor on the other side looks pretty slim. Just look at the legs and compare pictures between the UFC and the preparing for this boxing match. He probably went full-cardio-conditioning at a taxing rate on his body to make sure that he can last on a different format.
Even if Conor has the cardio adapted to this format, his chances of going for 12 rounds are slim and this fight is unlikely to end after 12 rounds.

Conor's adaptation could also cost him some power. We're prepared to have high expectations from Conor as we've been entertained in the UFC, yet we might see something completely different in this boxing match.
Conor's striking volume diminishes as the fight progresses. This might be a straight-up advantage for Floyd who has a steady pace of delivering punches at paced power with good efficiency on his gas tank.

Conor's precision was helped alot by the MMA rules allowing kicks and keeping the opponents from bladed stances and large weaving or leaning moves. He's gonna need something to steady Floyd. And we're not convinced that his lead (right) hand has that role figured out.

The hype-train reached full speed after the "Paulie Sparring Video" act. Paulie Malignaggi was offered the occasion to help McGregor in sparring. It seems Paulie came to help and Conor had something to prove related to a comment of Malignaggi belittling Conor publicly during an interview.

Paulie, part out of shape has been asked to spar from the first day he arrived. And they sparred for 12 rounds at a sustained pace. Having a 12-round sparring partner is a very uncommon thing to ask and have in any camp.
And after this whole thing emerged, a small video of Conor "knocking down" Paulie was released in the media.

When it comes to movement, we notice a difference between the two. Mayweather is a pivot and lateral movement defensive expert, while Conor usually "rails" his range (forward and backward) and tends to be line-bound when it comes to movement. He has a serious disadvantage when circling becomes the main trend in a vicious combo with lead leg pivots. Conor's rail-like in-and-out can also be a critical issue if Mayweather tries to pull-counter him.

Conor works best on long-range punching and occasionally in the pocket, having a vulnerability in the chest-range (most common in boxing than in mma) and inbetween pocket-range(closed hook/uppercut range) and long-range, where any boxer outboxes a non-boxer(in that distance setup, in MMA you can knee or clinch up a thai clinch, so in the absence of those two, a non-boxer finds himself at a disadvantage against a higher-volume, more experienced puncher.)

Another speculation would be that Conor isn't quite comfortable with middle-range since his punching tactics against Paulie were just volume and face-covering strikes landed on the opponent while circling largely outside and around a turtled opponent. That few seconds give us the impression that he might run out of ideas in that range, but this remains at the level of pure speculation.

The 8 oz gloves and 12 rounds of 3 minutes will be the parameters of this fight. And those small gloves mostly protect the wrists and the gas tank of each fighter. Tighter gloves and the doubled-up handwraps are the best thing for Floyd's hands. And small enough to slide on a wet Mayweather who uses his defense at best against grazing, typical boxing punches (non-russian hooks, with the uncorked angle). They simply slide off, giving Floyd a chance to counter and Conor another expense in recovering after missing and being deflected multiple times. Recovering after missing or being deflected stacks alot on your gas-tank.

The critical questions of this fight remain: 

A. Can Conor steady Mayweather fast after swarming him and knock him down three times?

B. Can Mayweather drag Conor into deep waters and stop him after exhausting him?

C. Will we see two counterpunchers lurking on a single mistake the whole match?

D. What's the biggest upset? Seeing Mayweather KO McGregor in the first round or McGregor winning a majority decision?

E. What if McGregor wins? Where is he going next? Will he succesfully transition back to MMA or after this drastic physical and technical change is he at a certain risk?

Now that we've watered this plant with its last drop of potential water, hype and speculation, Saturday Night will have the answers to all of these. What about you? What do you think about this?

Our prediction: McGregor stops Mayweather within round 4 or Mayweather wins via Decision.

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