- - Sunday, August 27, 2017


The irony of Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition Saturday night against mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor was that this was probably the most-Floyd like fight of all, in this sense — like many of his other 49 bouts, few people watching had a clue what they were looking at.

Mayweather-McGregor was hailed by many as a “great” fight — perhaps the worst indictment yet for how far boxing’s credibility has fallen, when a glorified Mayweather sparring session someone against someone making his “pro boxing debut” passes for a “great fight.”

It’s been so long since the public at large has witnessed a “great” fight that anything that doesn’t end with people screaming about being robbed of their pay-per-view money qualifies as “great.”

Since the expectations were so low going into Mayweather-McGregor for anything other than some circus-like fraud — I felt it would end with an injury resulting in a no decision or a Mayweather win on the scorecards later in the fight — the results of the evening in Las Vegas were so relatively normal that people exhaled with praises of greatness.

A great fight. Tell me, which round was the memorable exchange between the two fighters, when they went toe-to-toe? The unforgettable moment of greatness?

Please. Mayweather probably is having a big laugh about that one while counting his hundreds of millions of dollars.

The first three rounds the undefeated Mayweather measured McGregor’s awkward approach — his pawing-like punches, for the most part, his constant rabbit-punching that went unchecked by referee Robert Byrd — and then came to the conclusion, which I am sure he suspected all along, that he had nothing to fear from Conor McGregor, the UFC standard-bearer.

Then he did something very un-Floyd like — he became the aggressor. He kept moving forward toward McGregor, slowly, methodically, breaking and bruising him while barely breaking a sweat.

“I told you that I would come straight ahead, and I knew that I would take some shots when you come straight ahead,” Mayweather said after the fight. “Conor was solid. I’ve been off a couple of years. I’m older now. I’m not the same Floyd Mayweather I was 10 years ago. I’m not the same Floyd Mayweather I was two years ago. There was a lot of rabbit punching, and I let the referee do his job. I’m still a thinker. He didn’t have the kind of power where I couldn’t come forward.”

By the end of the fight, McGregor — at age 29, was the one who was exhausted, not the 40-year-old Mayweather.

And people loved it. Great fight, they said.

When have people ever said that a Mayweather fight was a great fight?

That’s the irony. When Mayweather has truly been at his best, like the 12-round boxing lesson he gave Canelo Alvarez — the opponent for Gennady Golovkin next month in Las Vegas in what truly may be a great fight — in 2013, people universally criticized Mayweather’s counterpunching, defensive style, clueless about the excellence they were watching.

You won’t see the likes of a Floyd Mayweather again in boxing. There’s no one left in the gyms to teach the greatness of not getting hit, and there are few fighters interested in putting in the work to learn how.

Mayweather was scorned for his effort against Manny Pacquiao. Yet he managed to win an overwhelming unanimous decision over Pacquiao, who many believed would give Mayweather his toughest fight. The expectations were high, and Floyd Mayweather has often disappointed expectations with his greatness.

Not Saturday night.

“I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see,” Mayweather said. “I owed them for the Pacquiao fight. I had to come straight ahead and give the fans a show. That’s what I gave them.”

A show. Not a fight.

The great George Foreman once said, “Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it.”

Saturday night everyone thought they were watching a Miles Davis concert.
It wasn’t even Kenny G.

• Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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