JOHANNESBURG – The wait for the biggest fight in combat sports history is finally over. Millions of fight fans from around the world will tune in on Sunday morning SA time to watch the fight between undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather and two-weight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title-holder Conor McGregor.
The bout, which will take pace at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the US, is expected to become the highest-grossing event in the history of either sport. Mayweather is the bookmakers’ overwhelming favourite to win the fight, boasting a flawless professional record of 49-0, while McGregor has never previously been involved in a boxing match.
However, several pundits have tipped McGregor to upset the bookies’ odds.
We caught up with a handful of local UFC fighters and boxers to find out who they’ll be putting their money on.
Don Madge, EFC lightweight champion:
"It’s an interesting fight because Floyd has only ever faced traditional boxers, and McGregor brings a whole different set of problems. I believe McGregor has the ability to KO (knock out) anyone, and if he is going to get it done, it will need to be in the first five rounds. I do believe Mayweather has trouble with southpaws, and has never faced a fighter as big as McGregor. If it goes past the fifth round, Mayweather will have his way with McGregor."
Demarte Pena, EFC bantamweight champion:
"This is a very interesting fight because of so many unknowns McGregor being a dominant MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter, a two- division champion, and Mayweather being an undefeated boxer with a record of 49-0. But, in reality, boxing is very different from MMA so, having said that, I’d imagine Mayweather winning this fight by way of decision or a TKO (technical knockout) after round six."
Dricus du Plessis, EFC welter- and middleweight champion:
"I’m putting my money on McGregor, for sure. I think he’ll take it by TKO in the first five rounds. If it goes the distance, I think Mayweather will take it. I think McGregor’s biggest weapon in this fight will be his size/reach advantage and, most of all, his footwork it will be too fast and unlike anything Mayweather has seen before."
Garreth McLellan, former EFC middleweight champion:
"We mustn’t look at who the winner is. We need to look at what this fight has done for combat sport. We’re in a place where the whole world is talking about this fight, and it’s amazing it has brought so much focus to MMA and boxing alike. It’s fast becoming the biggest sporting spectacle of all time."
Hekkie Budler, current IBO world junior flyweight champion:
I definitely think Mayweather will win the fight. He should win by TKO. It’s going to be a major challenge for McGregor. It’s a completely different sport and so he will have to be extremely fit. McGregor is going to have to put constant pressure on Mayweather from the start, out-hussle and outwork him. I can’t see that happening. Or he will have to knock him out to win.
Raising the Tri-colour with pride ☘️
Thank you to all the fans who showed up at the weigh ins!
Tomorrow we go to war. pic.twitter.com/6w65a9AQ8E
Colin Nathan, boxing trainer:
"Deep down McGregor knows that he can’t win in a boxing ring. If you knew that your family and grandchildren would never have to work for a day in their lives and you were offered this amount of money, you would do it too. Does he have a chance? Stranger things have happened. Of course, because if he connects, he could knock him out. But I don’t do ifs in boxing, I go on wins, and that’s why I’m picking Mayweather to stop him anywhere between six and 10 rounds."
Damien Durandt, boxing trainer:
"There are a lot of questions around Floyd and why he took this fight. Is it possible that Mayweather can’t handle any of the younger professional boxers any more? No one has asked this question."
"Can Floyd handle a prime Canelo Alvarez or a prime Gennady Golovkin? It’s questionable. I think Mayweather will win on points if there is a stoppage towards the end of the second half of the fight."
"For the first two rounds, Mayweather will get a feel of McGregor’s movement and a taste of his punching power on his shoulders and hands, and then he will go to work."
Dingaan Thobela, former boxing champion:
"A lot can happen in this fight. The decision to change gloves from 10-ounce to eight-ounce could play to McGregor’s advantage."
"I’m grateful to see a match of this magnitude where it gets everyone talking about who will win."
"If you look at McGregor’s history, he’s done well for himself."
"It may be the first time that he fights as a boxer, but if you look at most of his fights he uses his fists often, he is constantly using his hands. So it won’t be a completely new field for him. He will still have that edge."
"If I had to put my money on someone winning, however, it will have to be Mayweather because the fight will be fought on boxing terms."