Aug 25, 2017

Mayweather-McGregor picks: our panel of writers and fighters on who will win

Former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin and UFC flyweight Zach Makovsky join our panel of Guardian writers in a lookahead to Saturday's bout


Fight prediction ...

Mayweather on points. LC

Mayweather by TKO in the ninth round. JG

Mayweather on points. BAG

Mayweather by TKO in the eighth round. ZM

It's hard to predict a round, but it will be a solid win for Floyd, who will do it with style and showmanship. PQ

The fight in five words ...

Ninety nine, Ninety five wasted. LC

Fans get their money's worth. JG

We get what we deserve. BAG

Polarizing polar bear money madness. ZM

Money, money, money, money, money. PQ

Is there any way Conor McGregor can win?

Yes, actually McGregor has a better chance than most give him. While he will probably dance around trying to stretch out the fight for as long as he can, he has quick hands and a heavy punch. He is capable of landing a shot Mayweather never sees. Remember, Mayweather is 40 and hasn't fought in nearly two years. A McGregor win would be a huge surprise but surprises have happened before. LC

Sure. I give him slightly more than the proverbial puncher's chance. McGregor excels at distance, range and timing to set up his long straight left, and there's no reason these attributes won't translate to boxing. He could also muscle Mayweather, and might find some success on the inside. JG

McGregor has as much of a chance in a boxing match as Mayweather would have under MMA rules. That is, virtually none. BAG

Yes, but not likely. Conor has a range advantage and generally his game revolves around him using this. He maintains his distance and pokes at you, trying to provoke you to lash out from too far away. When you do he's ready to catch you with his best weapon: his counter left straight. He is very accurate and has excellent timing with this shot and if he can goad Mayweather into reaching for him, he could land it and I think he could hurt Floyd. However, my money is on Floyd knowing how to deal with this by probing instead of committing and feinting to draw out the intentions of McGregor. ZM

He's got a puncher's chance, but your fat grandma who just got done eating Sunday's after-church dinner has a puncher's chance. The margin is so large between them. I don't really see any answer that McGregor can have for all of the things that Floyd can do in the fight. I don't give him much of a chance at all. PQ

Will Mayweather go for a quick finish or draw it out?

Presumably both fighters will try to drag out the fight, giving fans in Las Vegas and watching on pay-per view some kind of value for the massive sums they are spending. There seems little incentive for either boxer to engage. Why run into a stray punch or take an unnecessary risk? This fight is such an outlier and neither man will be comfortable with the other. LC

Presuming Mayweather remains in character, he'll sort out the Irishman's movements in the first quarter of the fight before going to work. Mayweather won't play Hagler to McGregor's Hearns. He's not making the mistake of gunslinging against an opponent whose best chance to win is for him to do exactly that. JG

It's been a decade since Floyd stopped an opponent inside the distance cleanly and there's little in his body of work over that span to suggest he will press for a knockout. He's shown that he's more than willing to box and run out the clock against an overmatched opponent rather than step on the gas, even amid a crescendo of boos (see: the later rounds of the Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto fights). Mayweather would love to punctuate his career with a stoppage, but McGregor will need to be seriously hurt or gassed for Floyd to risk it all. BAG

I think Floyd takes his time, reads the tactics of McGregor and gets an advantage slowly, but the advantages snowball and he becomes more dominant as the fight goes on. ZM

Floyd is at the point in his career where he can do whatever he wants to do. It doesn't matter. It's just a show, so why not go out there and give the people what they paid for? If he really cares about the fans and the people that paid for it, then he wants to give them the best show he can give them. Only he knows what kind of show that will be. PQ

If we can draw one positive from the fight it is ...

That pro sports in the US will be spared what is otherwise a dreary weekend of meaningless baseball games, dreadful preseason football contests and the random auto race. August weekends are among the slowest in American sports and dropping a huge fight in the deadest time is a real boost for everyone – at least everyone rich enough to buy this fight. LC

Combat sports are thriving. People claim boxing is dead. It's not. People claim MMA has hit its ceiling. It hasn't. This personality-driven extravaganza works because Mayweather is one of boxing's all-time greats and McGregor has been positioned as MMA's top fighter. Also, if a miracle happens, a new sports superstar emerges. JG

The sheer wattage of the event, provided it's not a total dud, could drum up enough interest in boxing to draw eyeballs to the real fight of the year: the long-awaited middleweight title unification fight between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin on 16 September. BAG

One final chance to see the best boxer ever, in my opinion, compete in a unique event. ZM

Nobody in boxing history has done what Floyd has done. The amount of money he's going to make in this fight is so ridiculous and the fight is against a guy that doesn't have any boxing experience. It takes a lot of power to be able to do what he's doing right now. This is probably going to be the biggest sports event in a long time, especially for boxing. I don't think we're going to see anything close to this in boxing for a long time. Thirty-six minutes to make the amount of money he's making. That kind of visibility is a positive for the sport. PQ

Long-term effect on boxing ...

Since this is more of a sideshow than a real fight the long-term impact will be muted. Should Mayweather win, as most expect him to do, the sport will return to its alphabet soup of titles and carry on as it has for years. A Mayweather loss might damage the credibility of a sport that many believe to be fading, but more likely the defeat would be written off as a dumb money grab from a fighter who should have stayed retired. LC

There's only one way this impacts boxing and that's if McGregor chews up Mayweather to put him away within four rounds like he promised. That stunning result surely hurts the esteem of boxing among younger fans, who are already gravitating towards MMA for their fight fix. JG

This one-off cash grab will have no more of a long-term effect on boxing than did Muhammad Ali's fight with the Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1976. BAG

I think any event that garners this much attention is good for everyone involved. Obviously, it would be much better for boxing if Mayweather wins handily and, to me, it certainly seems to be a win-win for MMA. The best analogy I've heard is that it's comparable to the Olympic decathlon champion defeating the 100m champion in a 100m sprint. What conclusions would you draw if the decathlete outperformed the sprinter? What if the sprinter was 40 and coming off a two-year retirement? I imagine that people will blow the result out of proportion regardless of the outcome: e.g. McGregor is the greatest boxer ever or MMA fighters are terrible strikers and can't really box. Ultimately, I don't see either sport changing drastically no matter what happens. ZM

Compare it to MMA. McGregor just came into another sport and he'll make more money on Saturday than he could ever make in his whole career in MMA. We can denigrate boxing for a lot of reasons. But boxers, even guys on my level who have done what I've done, have made good money. The money is there. This just puts more eyes on it and on the sport. Now people might be a bit more curious about the new fighters that are coming up and more about the sport in general. Maybe they'll get the seed planted in their heart and want to be boxing fans again. PQ

Long-term effect on UFC/MMA ...

Though this is a boxing match, it should continue to help MMA and the UFC. The sport has become more mainstream with the success of fighters like McGregor and Ronda Rousey and this bout introduces many to McGregor who might not have paid attention in the past. A McGregor victory will be a huge boost and might draw millions more to the UFC. LC

This could go several ways. A McGregor win boosts him and MMA to another level. A bad loss diminishes the view that mixed martial artists are highly skilled competitors. Worse, if McGregor is hurt and his career suffers, the UFC's biggest star might face a premature end. JG

The highest purse of McGregor's career, and richest in the history of mixed martial arts, was $3m for his rematch with Nate Diaz last year. The financials for Saturday's fight remain under wraps, but the Irishman could earn $75m or more for a fight he will almost certainly lose. No sooner had Jon Jones reclaimed the UFC light heavyweight title from Daniel Cormier last month than did he clamor for a summit meeting with Brock Lesnar despite a weight difference of 40lbs between the pair. That's no coincidence, even if Jones' latest failed drug test makes it unlikely any time in the near future. Yes, Mayweather-McGregor is a unicorn, but the vast numbers at play have shown UFC fighters that eight-figure purses are plausible if you're willing to push the envelope. BAG

(See above response.) ZM

This is the biggest fight in both sports on every level when it comes to the promotion. You might have more MMA guys curious to come try out boxing and make some of the money that McGregor is making. I don't see any top boxers going over to MMA, but I do think you'll see more promoters trying cross-promotions like this. I just don't think we're going to see it again on this level any time soon. PQ

One bold prediction ...

Mayweather and McGregor become so enamored with the attention that they sign up for 10 years of these fights. Then they turn off so many people with their cheap self-promotion shows, the contract is cancelled after one rematch. LC

Fingers crossed that the cadre of rich folks who brought us this event read my Guardian column that made the case for Mayweather to step into the octagon next (assuming he defeats McGregor on Saturday). I say they did and the hints Mayweather dropped of fighting in the UFC during the press tour come to fruition. Mayweather versus McGregor in the octagon would be the richest fight of all time. JG

McGregor doesn't land a single punch of significance over 12 rounds. BAG

The fight ends with a fatigued McGregor covering against the ropes and the referee jumping in to stop the fight. ZM

Floyd is going to hit McGregor to hurt him. He's not going to play. It's going to come with the counter-punching. And if he sees McGregor get hurt, he's going to press for the finish more than he ever did in his other recent fights. Conor cannot afford to make any mistakes at all. Since he's doing everything for the first time on this level underneath those bright lights, it's going to be way too much to try to figure things out on the fly. It's going to be too late – and if he falls too far behind, he's going to get knocked out. PQ

The Guardian

by Les CarpenterJosh GrossBryan Armen Graham, Zach Makovsky and Peter Quillin