Whether you like Floyd Mayweather [as a person] or not, it’s hard to deny that he’s an accomplished boxer. With the recently earned record of 50-0, Mayweather finds himself in rarefied air among boxing’s elite. Like many, I watched and enjoyed this past weekend’s bout against UFC champ Conor McGregor. Given my involvement in the upcoming Long Island Fight for Charity boxing event, watching this historic match-up quickly became less about entertainment for me and more about a day in class. Here’s some of what I learned…
If you didn’t tune-in, spoiler alert: Mayweather won. As with most professional boxing events, there was a lot of speculation and promotion leading up to fight night. I’ll ignore the nonsense and stick with a point or two that actually pertains to the fight.
Mayweather, who technically retired at 49-0, was coming out of retirement and off his longest break from fighting. This drew some attention as far as if he would be fight-ready and whether his [extremely rare] undefeated record would be lost.
McGregor had his share of critics, questioning whether a UFC fighter—who only fought as many as 25 minutes (not 36 minutes, as in a 12-round boxing match)—would have the stamina to make it to the end. There were also concerns about his ability to fight without the opportunity to kick and grapple, tools he’s used to having at his disposal when fighting mixed martial arts (MMA) sports.
There was also the matter of age as well as size. Mayweather is now 40 years old—aged, in the world of boxing (and many professional sports). I, being 40 myself, think that’s ridiculous… but <ahem> I digress. McGregor is in his twenties and also has a longer reach, more height, and, come fight night, weighed more.
The fight was exciting. McGregor, the underdog, was very strong for the first half of the fight. He was a better boxer than most expected him to be, especially among the Showtime commentators. Mayweather got in very few shots but, if you’ve seen him fight in the past, this wasn’t surprising as he’s a master of defense and really studies his opponents before turning up his offense.
Watching this play out, I couldn’t help but notice the composure and patience Mayweather was exhibiting. He took some significant hits and had to deal with a very vocal crowd when he did. He seemed to keep his head in the game, ignore the noise, and fight his fight. This was a learning moment for me.
Mayweather and his team were betting on the same assumptions McGregor’s critics made—conditioning would be key as McGregor wouldn’t have the necessary experience and stamina to go a full 12-rounds with the reigning champ.
Leading up to the fight I watched many videos of these two training. Partly because I was excited about the fight, partly to glean what techniques and inspiration I could. Often, with both fighters, as much time was spent outside the ring as in—road running, chopping wood, doing other cardio activities outside boxing, etc. all to build up endurance. Although I’ve been fully aware of these benefits and doing much of the same (within my abilities, of course), seeing the pros subscribe to a similar regime as I was another powerful takeaway.
McGregor put on an excellent show. His footwork was strong and, aside from a few illegal strikes, he landed many surgical punches. Ultimately, however, Mayweather’s bet paid off and he took down McGregor in the 10th round for a TKO.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), my Long Island Fight for Charity bout is only 3-rounds. That won’t give me the time Mayweather had to leverage conditioning and study-time against my opponent, but it is plenty of time to exercise patience and technique to box—not brawl. And, that’s my intent. It may sound obvious. It may sound easier said than done. All true, given the expected emotions and adrenaline forthcoming on fight night. But, taking a page from the champ’s book, a cool head and patience should bring victory in the ring—as it also seems to in life.