As May­weather leaves, McGre­gor en­joys rise

Cham­pion, re­tir­ing again after 10th-round TKO, picks up pro­tege Davis

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

LAS VE­GAS — At night’s end, Floyd May­weather Jr. rested on his chair qui­etly as his de­feated op­po­nent, Conor McGre­gor, stood and spoke.

May­weather’s post­fight news con­fer­ences usu­ally aren’t like this. The star of the show typ­i­cally doesn’t want to share his time with any­one. This was dif­fer­ent. This was the end. And the man May­weather de­feated now stands as his suc­ces­sor, the king of com­bat sports.

UFC lightweight cham­pion McGre­gor, 29, lost by10th-round tech­ni­cal knock­out in what ring an­nouncer Jimmy Len­non Jr. de­scribed as a “special-at­trac­tion” box­ing match, but the mem­ory of his valiant showing in light of mak­ing his pro de­but against the now 50-0 May­weather will be pow­er­ful.

“I al­ways knew I’d give a good ac­count of my­self,” said McGre­gor, who not only out­jabbed May­weather, but landed 111 punches on the 40-year-old in less than 10 full rounds — im­pres­sive, con­sid­er­ing seven of May­weather’s pre­vi­ous world-ti­tle op­po­nents landed fewer than 100 on the elu­sive cham­pion in 12-round bouts.

“It was a buzz. I en­joyed it. I hope you en­joyed it. It was a fun fight,” McGre­gor said.

For all the crit­i­cism McGre­gor re­ceived about his box­ing skills, he found a way to en­ter­tain even though he was out­matched.

By May­weather’s stan­dards, he took the first three rounds off as McGre­gor pressed the ac­tion while the watch­ers won­dered whether May­weather, at 40, and two years re­moved from his most re­cent fight, had turned old.

“The plan was to let him shoot heavy hands and take him down the stretch,” said May­weather, who reached the fifth round and asked the boast­ful McGre­gor, “I thought you said it wasn’t go­ing past four?”

By record­ing his first knock­out vic­tory since the surprise punch on Vic­tor Or­tiz in 2011, May­weather’s ap­proach won deep ad­mi­ra­tion from McGre­gor, who said he’ll re­turn to the UFC, but first wants to fur­ther “study” May­weather’s bril­liance.

“You didn’t get rat­tled,” McGre­gor said to a lis­ten­ing May­weather on stage. “You switched up your game plan three times. You were look­ing to box [early]. You got out­boxed. You looked to play against the ropes like you love to play. You were get­ting picked off there. You came in, hands up to your fore­head, fore­head dipped in to the chest and sat [on punches], not afraid to fight. Three game changes. That’s what a great cham­pion does. Much re­spect.… Hell of a fight.”

The en­ter­tain­ing ac­tion also helped salve May­weather’s rep­u­ta­tion. The fighter who over­promised and un­der­de­liv­ered so often in the past dis­played box­ing’s artistry.

“I’ve had some great fights, and I’ve had some bor­ing fights,” May­weather con­ceded. “But I will al­ways be re­mem­bered as a win­ner.”

Onthe night May­weather passed Rocky Mar­ciano to reach 50-0, a rich ex­am­ple of how dif­fi­cult the task of such longevity im­me­di­ately pre­ceded.

May­weather’s un­beaten 22-year-old pro­tege, Bal­ti­more’s Ger­vonta “Tank” Davis, lost his world-cham­pi­onship belt by weigh­ing 2 pounds over the ju­nior-lightweight limit Fri­day. He then fought a disjointed Satur­day bout, de­feat­ing Costa Rica’s Fran­cisco Fon­seca by knock­ing him out with a pro­hib­ited punch be­hind the head that went undis­ci­plined.

Through the weight chal­lenges, the stiff op­po­nents and life’s vary­ing moods and rough stretches, May­weather found a way to be con­sis­tently good each night he stepped in the ring.

“Tank is young. When I was young, I would’ve made those same mis­takes if I didn’t have my fa­ther in my life — a coach who was ex­tremely hard on me,” May­weather Jr. said of his trainer, Floyd May­weather Sr., after the bout.

“If he didn’t dis­ci­pline me, I don’t know howmy ca­reer would’ve played out. I didn’t want to slack or seem ir­re­spon­si­ble or not dis­ci­plined. I al­ways sac­ri­ficed. You’ve got to sac­ri­fice some­thing to get to the pin­na­cle, and that’s what I did.”

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