From a box office standpoint, Conor McGregor’s professional boxing debut vs. Floyd Mayweather couldn’t have gone much better. The UFC lightweight champion brought the fight to the legendary Mayweather before losing by TKO in the 10th round of their Aug. 26 encounter that will go down as one of the most lucrative sporting events in history.
Before they even put on the gloves, McGregor and Mayweather were both expected to collect nine-figure payouts for the crossover bout, making the fight itself almost superfluous compared to the mutual victory they’d achieved by simply putting it together in the first place.
Business aspect aside, McGregor received a lot of credit for hanging in there with Mayweather, and his mixture of raw power and questionable tactics (McGregor was repeatedly admonished by referee Robert Byrd for the use of illegal rabbit punches and blows to the back of Mayweather’s head when Mayweather turned away from him) has kept the possibility alive that he is not one-and-done as a pugilist.
Undefeated boxer and Bellator flyweight Heather Hardy recently spoke to MMA Fighting, and when asked for her thoughts on the McGregor-Mayweather encounter she had encouraging words for “The Notorious.”
“Before the fight, I felt like (McGregor) could stand with 90 percent of the champions at 147 and 154 pounds,” said Hardy. “For me, it was about him not beating Floyd, not that he couldn’t box or stand in there or be a boxing champion because I totally believe that half the s**t he pulled on Floyd, he would have beat some other champion with.”
Fans and analysts were polarized on just how effective McGregor actually was in his match with Mayweather. Did the 40-year-old Mayweather give up rounds as he worked his way back into championship form after being out of action for 23 months? Did he let McGregor stick around for the sake of entertainment? How much credit should McGregor get for landing more total strikes than some of Mayweather’s more decorated opponents?
One thing was for certain, and that’s that McGregor’s boisterous persona gave him the edge during the promotional tour for the megafight. Hardy is convinced that the Irishman’s penchant for psychological warfare would have wreaked havoc on most boxers and that slight edge could help to make him a two-sport champion someday.
“There is no doubt in my mind that he could be,” said Hardy. “He has that champion mentality and that attitude that - even the way that he came in trying to intimidate Floyd. That would have worked on a lesser fighter. We’re talking about Floyd Mayweather, one of the greatest of all time, you can’t deny him of that, as much as you may hate him as a man or not respect the things he says or does - which I would agree, I don’t respect a lot of the things he says or does - but from a completely boxing standpoint: he’s just in a different sphere.
“But I say that to say this, I think McGregor is amazing and could totally stand in there and win a title in boxing if he wanted to.”
Hardy had a successful MMA debut in June, and she looks to continue her own combat sports success when she fights Kristina Williams at Bellator 185 this Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.