Imagine the insanity if Conor McGregor rocks and knocks out Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday night.
The UFC superstar has boldly predicted such a scenario. But few boxing purists and sharp gamblers are buying the tough talk McGregor is selling.
The betting public is behind the underdog in overwhelming numbers, with around 90 percent of the tickets written on McGregor. Almost all of the major wagers — those of the six-figure and $1 million variety — are on Mayweather.
The boxing event, contested at 154 pounds with eight-ounce gloves, is about to go down at 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, where Friday’s weigh-in attracted a rowdy, near-capacity crowd.
It is expected to be the biggest-bet boxing match in Nevada history, topping the $50 million that was wagered on Mayweather’s win against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 at MGM Grand Garden. The handle on this fight is projected to approach $75 million.
Mayweather, 40, is looking to close out his career with a 50-0 record. McGregor, 29, is younger and bigger — saying he expects to walk into the ring at about 170 pounds — but he’s also entering his first professional boxing match against arguably the greatest defensive fighter of all time.
This has been called a circus promotion and a mismatch, but the fascination surrounding the spectacle is undeniable. It’s Mayweather’s boxing greatness against the great unknown in McGregor. The curiosity of it all could draw a record pay-per-view audience.
The proposition bets are posted. Will the fight go the distance? Will Mayweather win by disqualification? Will either fighter get knocked down?
Months ago, Mayweather opened as a 27-1 favorite at the South Point sports book, but as of Saturday morning, the line was minus-600 at most Las Vegas books.
In a Vegas Stats & Information Network poll of bookmakers, media and professional handicappers, Mayweather swept the voting 23-0. Imagine the insanity if McGregor pulls an historic upset.
Gill Alexander, VSiN: Mayweather by TKO (5th)
Mayweather will spend a round or two sizing up McGregor, then having assured himself there's no there, there, will start to connect at a rate that McGregor has neither encountered nor properly prepared for. The referee will let it go as long as he can to give fans some semblance of their money's worth, but will inevitably stop the charade so everyone can go to dinner.
Chris Andrews, South Point sports book director: Mayweather by TKO (6th)
Mayweather will be cutting him with that jab and by the 6th it will have taken its toll.
John Avello, Wynn sports book director: Mayweather by KO (7th)
Mayweather does not approach fights thinking they are going to be a war but how he's going to get the W. At 40 years old, I would assume that taking multiple shots is not part of the plan. Floyd in 6 or 7, if that's what he wants.
Brian Blessing, Sportsbookradio.com: Mayweather by decision
Full marks for creating the hype, but we know what we've seen with regularity. Mayweather can't be hit but he doesn't hurt people. The main questions: Is McGregor in shape or will he punch himself out? The price is right.
Steve Cofield, SiriusXM, ESPN Radio 1100: Mayweather by TKO (10th)
Conor is going to come out and do a decent job of confusing Floyd, but I think this will get stopped and there will be a finish. It will take some time to beat him up, but it's possible Conor gets cut up.
Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100: Mayweather by decision
My standard pick in every Mayweather fight. Unless Floyd has gotten old, he'll box circles around McGregor and win a boring decision. Regardless of outcome, fans will complain while swearing they will never buy another Mayweather fight. Then they will again.
Chuck Edel, professional bettor: Mayweather by TKO (7th)
I think Mayweather is going to wear down McGregor by the sixth or seventh round, if it goes according to the game plan. McGregor should be a zombie out there at that point.
Patrick Everson, Covers.com: Mayweather by TKO (7th)
At that stage of the fight, McGregor will be approaching the number of minutes he’d go in a full five-round UFC bout. Mayweather wears him out and finishes him off early.
Ron Flatter, VSiN: Mayweather by decision
This has all the makings of a quintessential Floyd fight. In other words, devoid of aggressive action, long on defensive prowess, and an exhibition of pure boxing that many drive-by fans will not appreciate. A sure thing: If this comes to pass, we will hear a repeat of the en masse griping that followed Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Ed Graney, Las Vegas Review-Journal: Mayweather by TKO (8th)
I would give anything to see McGregor attempt a rear naked choke hold, but $75 million goes a long way at the pub. Hence, the circus ends with no clown show.
Doug Kezirian, ESPN SportsCenter anchor: Mayweather by KO (9th)
McGregor is not the tomato can many portray him as, but he's also not in the same league as Mayweather. Floyd will knock him out in the 8th or 9th round … yet there's always a chance Conor breaks the Internet.
Jay Kornegay, Westgate sports book director: Mayweather by decision
Expect a typical Mayweather fight. Floyd will stay away and win by a unanimous decision. Conor will complain afterwards, saying Floyd danced but didn't fight.
Brett Lawson, VSiN: Mayweather by TKO (8th)
McGregor's punching power has been overemphasized by casuals in the buildup, as it is his accuracy and counterpunching that prove to be his greatest tools. Neither will help him in this one, as the defensive skills, counter-game and conditioning of Mayweather wear down the Irishman throughout the bout. Floyd uses the shoulder roll and double jab to negate any form of offense McGregor will attempt, while Conor's unique stance and striking style will do little to rattle Mayweather. The pace will initially be slow and Floyd will do more damage than many anticipate.
Vinny Magliulo, Gaughan Gaming, VSiN: Mayweather by TKO (8th)
Conor McGregor will be game and gutsy while Floyd Mayweather will be technical and calculating. Several rounds to measure each other, but Mayweather’s boxing advantage is too much for McGregor to overcome, so Mayweather in eight.
Tony Miller, Golden Nugget sports book director: Mayweather by decision
Lopsided and boring, McGregor pursues and chases but cannot get to Mayweather. Floyd counters and retreats all night to beat a winded and outclassed McGregor easily on all cards.
Brent Musburger, VSiN: Mayweather by TKO (3rd)
It’s still mind-boggling to me that people are betting on McGregor. I don’t think he knows how to protect himself in the boxing ring. McGregor will get cut on both eyes and it will be stopped in the third round.
Todd Musburger, VSiN: Mayweather by decision
McGregor will fight smarter than expected. He will not come out with fire but will probe for weakness. We know Floyd has for years won on defense. The Irishman will hope for an opening if the 40-year-old takes the initiative and he will land a few surprising shots, giving his countrymen a reason to down a pint or two. But it goes the distance with Mayweather winning a unanimous decision and McGregor having enough energy to call for a rematch ... Part deux anyone?
Wes Reynolds, professional bettor: Mayweather by TKO (6th)
Yes, Money Mayweather is now 40, but he went the distance in 19 fights. McGregor doesn't have the conditioning to keep up here. After a feeling-out process and Conor coming at Naseem Hamed-like awkward angles, Floyd eventually wears him out.
Amal Shah, VSiN: Mayweather by KO (8th)
Floyd will spend the first two rounds feeling Connor out and then he will go to work on him. Floyd will win the fight by KO in the 8th round. I think Conor will get knocked out because he will not be able to defend at the level of other boxers.
Jeff Sherman, Westgate sports book manager: Mayweather by TKO (7th)
Mayweather wins around Rounds 6 to 7, the point where I believe McGregor wears down and Floyd can manage what he wants.
Jonathan Von Tobel, VSiN: Mayweather by decision
This may be me buying into the hype of Conor McGregor, but this fight will go the distance. Conor will struggle to land punches, but Floyd’s usual peck-and-paw routine will not lead to a finish. Mayweather will acquire point after point, and Conor will look similar to Manny Pacquiao flailing wildly during the first superfight we witnessed. Money walks away with the belt via unanimous decision, and sharps walk away happy they laid the price.
Robert Walker, US Fantasy Sports: Mayweather by KO (9th)
Mayweather will win in the late rounds. Nobody hits Mayweather, arguably the greatest defensive fighter of all time. I see McGregor getting discouraged and ultimately knocked out around the 9th round.
Matt Youmans, VSiN: Mayweather by decision
It’s plausible McGregor runs out of gas and this gets stopped in the late rounds, but Mayweather probably lacks the power to put McGregor on his butt. Conor is a tough guy with an impressive level of self-belief, and with a wild-card approach he’s more than capable of winning a round or two early to inspire the crowd. Floyd is simply too skilled, though, and he should take command in the middle rounds en route to an easy decision.