It's now just a month until 'the biggest fight in combat sports history'. With the odds seemingly stacked against him, what exactly does Conor McGregor have to do to defy his critics and walk out of Las Vegas with his hand raised? Adam Baylis has found reasons to believe in the 6/1 underdog...
Where it all began
Prior to entering the world of MMA in 2006, McGregor had in fact been boxing for around three years, competing in close to 40 fights and picked up a Dublin Novice Championship in the process. He trained at Crumlin Boxing Club which has launched the careers of some of Ireland's most celebrated fighters, not least Olympic Gold Medallist Katie Taylor. McGregor's amateur record obviously pales in comparison to the 49 pro victories that Mayweather has clocked up but the key is that his primary fighting background isn't in mixed martial arts but in boxing and this is reflected in the fact that seven of his ten UFC victories have come by way of knockout. The power of his striking really shouldn't be underestimated; McGregor to win by KO/TKO is 5/1.
The fight may already have been won
In 2015, McGregor embarked on a round-the-world press tour before his title bout with Jose Aldo; those who witnessed any of these knew exactly what to expect from Conor this time round in the recent pre-fight shows. That psychological onslaught pushed Aldo, seemingly unbeatable at the time, to the absolute edge. The fight was first delayed due to a contentious injury Aldo picked up in sparring before he was then eventually knocked out by McGregor in 13 seconds; McGregor to win the fight in 60 seconds is 40/1.
Gennady Golovkin's coach, Abel Sanchez, recently gave his thoughts on the bout and underlined the point that Conor needs to make Floyd "uncomfortable" in the hope that he makes a mistake. On that basis, 'The Notorious One' may already have the fight wrapped up.
The tactical edge
Confidence in a McGregor victory has been hard to find but his most recent knockout victim, Eddie Alvarez, was surprisingly positive. He highlighted the need for Conor to keep his hands busy in the early rounds and no-one knows his punching power better than someone that's felt it first-hand. It's also worth noting that the Irishman holds a marked size advantage over Mayweather and Floyd has often struggled against southpaw fighters, not to mention McGregor's likely unorthodox in-ring movement.
Much has been made of the 11 year age gap between the fighters but stamina has been an Achilles heel for McGregor in the Octagon and was cited as the main reason behind his defeat to Nate Diaz. If the fight goes beyond the first four or five rounds it undoubtedly plays into Mayweather's favour even more, so focus on McGregor to win in Round 1-3 at 10/1.
McGregor to win by KO/TKO @ 5/1
McGregor to win in Round 1-3 @ 10/1
£7.5m already bet on fight with a month still to go
• Fight on track to become the biggest in Betfair Exchange history
• Has now overtaken the £5m bet on the outcome of the Joshua v Klitschko bout
• Is second only to the £8.9m traded on the Mayweather Jr v Pacquiao fight
Katie Baylis, Betfair Spokesperson, said: “It’s now a month until one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory, and we have seen a phenomenal amount of money already bet, with £7.5m bet on the outcome alone.
“Floyd Mayweather Jr may be the hot 1/6 favourite, with Conor McGregor at 6/1, but while almost 80% of the money is for Mayweather, 40% of bets are actually on McGregor to cause what would be a monumental upset, with 34% on the favoured Mayweather and 26% on the draw.
“The biggest single bet was £100k on Mayweather Jr at the start of the month when his odds were around 1/5 and we expect to see plenty more bets of this nature as we get closer to the fight that we predict will be the biggest boxing betting event in Betfair Exchange history.”