Last jabs before the big fight

Undefeated American boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor of Ireland posing during their official weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Undefeated American boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor of Ireland posing during their official weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.PHOTO: REUTERS

McGregor hopes to silence critics and talks of a mismatch with upset win over Mayweather

LAS VEGAS • Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor vowed to knock out boxer Floyd Mayweather on Friday as a horde of Irish fans descended on Las Vegas for the trash-talking rivals' cross-combat super fight.

McGregor, 29, will carry a substantial weight advantage into this morning's (Singapore time) 12-round boxing contest at the T-Mobile Arena after a raucous weigh-in that saw him face off with Mayweather for the final time before the fight.

With waves of green-shirted fans in a crowd of around 6,000 roaring their support for the Irish superstar, McGregor tipped the scales at 153 pounds, well inside the 154lb limit.

Former welterweight champion Mayweather, 40, who has emerged from a two-year retirement, weighed in at 149.5lb.

The naturally bigger McGregor - who screamed into Mayweather's face - said he expects to enter the ring at closer to 170lb.

The former apprentice plumber from Dublin, who was unemployed just four years ago, defiantly predicted he was ready to spring a monumental upset on the skilful Mayweather, one of the finest boxers in history who boasts a perfect 49-0 record.

"That's the worst shape I've ever seen him in," McGregor said of Mayweather. "I'm going to breeze through him, trust me on that."

BIGGER AND STRONGER

That's the worst shape I've ever seen him in. I'm going to breeze through him, trust me on that.''

CONOR McGREGOR, who has a weight advantage over Floyd Mayweather.

PACK A PUNCH

Weight doesn't win fights, fighting wins fights. It won't go the distance. Mark my words - I'm not worried about the scales.''

MAYWEATHER, on how the clash will be won by superior fighting techniques instead of just who is heavier.

A nonplussed Mayweather shrugged off his weight disadvantage and once again vowed to stop McGregor inside the distance.

"Weight doesn't win fights, fighting wins fights," the American said. "It won't go the distance. Mark my words - I'm not worried about the scales."

Boxing pundits, coaches and fighters have lined up to dismiss McGregor's hopes of succeeding where every opponent in Mayweather's 21-year career has failed.

"Would a ping pong player have a chance of scoring a point against (tennis player) Roger Federer?" was the withering verdict of veteran trainer Teddy Atlas. "It's going to be like walking through a really bad neighbourhood late at night. McGregor's going to get mugged."

Stephen Espinoza, the head of cable network Showtime Sports which is selling the fight on pay-per-view in the United States, said surveys had shown that fans were not deterred by predictions of a mismatch.

"The casual fans were absolutely adamant," he said. "Their response almost universally was 'We don't care if it's a mismatch... if there's a 1 per cent chance that something incredible could happen, we need to watch it'. And that's why they're going to watch it."

Others, however, have sounded a note of caution, citing potential safety risks to McGregor given the chasm of experience between the Irishman and Mayweather.

British former light-welterweight world champion Amir Khan expressed fears on Friday that McGregor could be seriously injured.

"It's like a tennis player trying to play badminton," Khan said. "(McGregor) needs to think about himself in this fight, because if he gets seriously injured, he might not ever be the same fighter or he might not even fight again."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAYWEATHER JR V MCGREGOR

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Last jabs before the big fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe