No one in boxing believed Floyd Mayweather Jnr when he announced his retirement at 49-0, following victory over Andre Berto in September 2015. Pretty Boy is the master of drama, we knew he was building a big comeback to reach the magic 50. But no one could've guessed just how he'd do it.
On Saturday, undefeated Floyd Mayweather will take to the squared-circle to face UFC star Conor McGregor. Yes, that's actually happening. In the build-up, most sane fans wrote it off as nonsense, when it was announced we thought it a joke, and during the press tour it was only a matter of time before one man would pull out. Wasn't it?
Yet, here we are. At the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, one of the best boxers who ever lived, and the self-proclaimed 'The Best Ever', takes on Conor McGregor - the face of the UFC and a man who brings a rags-to-riches story that has captured the imagination of the civilised world. It's days away, but I must say, I'm still in shock.
Regular readers of my boxing previews will know I'm a lover of the formbook, but on paper this is the biggest mismatch that ever was. Floyd Mayweather - 49 wins from 49 contests, 26 of those victories coming inside the distance. His CV reads like a who's who of the fight game, including Manny Pacquiao, Saul Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Zab Judah and Arturo Gatti. We could go on all day. In the opposite corner stands Conor McGregor 0-0-0, making his debut. Frowny face.
No credit for boxing
For as entertaining as the build-up has been, there's really no getting away from that. I'm not going to run down the fight. I, like everyone I know, will tune in to see history being made. But, I have to be honest. I'm a boxing man and the general feeling around the gyms is that this is a circus. Some say Floyd Mayweather is in trouble with the tax man and has arranged it so both fighters get a whopping big pay-out. I'm certainly not against either making money in the name of entertainment.
I've not spoken with one fellow professional boxer who saw any credit in this fight, thinking it shows our sport in a terrible light. We've had to endure months of talking boxing with overgrown wrestling fans in Tap Out t-shirts. We've had to listen to lovers of MMA tell us that if Conor McGregor lands a big shot, Floyd will go to sleep. Calling on reason, mentioning the likes of the big-hitting Alvarez and Hatton, has fallen on deaf ears.
Then, if Conor goes more than three or four rounds, any Floyd win would be pointless. It'll then be - McGregor shouldn't have been in there, but managed to hold his own. But, if Floyd does what he really should do for the sport he claims to love and knocks McGregor out in the first round, we'll all feel let down and scream farce. You really can't win.
In fact, the only people who will win here is the bank managers of Mr Mayweather and Mr McGregor. There is, however, a chance for us to line our pockets with a winning bet, and that makes it all a little more bearable. So, let's keep it simple - how's Floyd going to win?
A mixed bag
For me, this fight is a bit of a mixed bag - it reminds me very much of David Haye v Audley Harrison. We all knew what was going to happen, but allowed ourselves to be sucked in by the hype. So much so, there were grown men walking around with 'Yes He Can' slogans on their clothing. 99% of fans said no he couldn't from the start, and he didn't.
I also can't get away from Rocky Balboa v Thunderlips, the ultimate man vs the ultimate meatball. Or Apollo Creed reading furious letters asking how much was he paid for carrying that bum? That insult lead to a big-money rematch. It's pantomime, but often reality is stranger than the movies.
Money Mayweather hasn't won a fight by knockout since Victor Ortiz in 2011, and that doesn't really count. His last KO worth anything was over Ricky Hatton a decade ago. Hatton set out to rough his more talented opponent up, wrestle, elbow, use the head, force him on to the backfoot, anything to throw him off his game.
When that didn't work - referee Joe Cortez didn't allow it, and neither he should've - The Hitman got frustrated, lunged forward and was taken out by a beautifully timed punch. The next morning, amateurs across the country were throwing that famous check left hook. It's not difficult to imagine something similar here.
McGregor a shorter price than some of the biggest names in boxing
Almost as astonishing as this bout actually happening is the amount of money going on a McGregor win. He's making his boxing debut but is a shorter price than some of the sport's biggest names who have been in with Floyd.
How does that make sense? Well, it doesn't, but to understand how Conor is 10/3 (Sportsbook) you have to understand a bit about betting. Put simply, odds compilers can't really afford to go much bigger, due to the flood of money coming for the underdog. If he did the impossible, there would be some serious questions asked. McGregor is currently no better than 4.60 on the Exchange.
Mayweather to win is 2/7 on the Betfair Sportsbook, but I think a bet worth having is the jolly by KO/TKO at 8/11, while those after a bit more for their money can chance Floyd to win in rounds 7 - 12 on the exchange at 3.40. Fancy a bet on McGregor? I find it tough to make a case for him getting anywhere near winning, but he has been looking sharp with that southpaw backhand, and him scoring a knockdown, regardless of the final result, is 3.60.
Mayweather by KO/TKO @ 8/11
Mayweather win in rounds 7 - 12 @ 12/5
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