Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor: Tactics and strategies for the August mega-fight

Steve Wellings

Steve is an experienced boxing writer and author. He has been writing about boxing for over 12 years and has attended over 150 shows. He has written and published nine books on the sport. He is the host on a boxing podcast called Boxing Asylum.

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When Conor McGregor clashes with Floyd Mayweather on August 26 in Las Vegas it will be interesting to see what tactics and game plan the Irishman employs when attempting to defeat the greatest boxer of a generation.

Those looking for threads of hope regarding a McGregor win were left salivating after his recent sparring session with ex-world champion Paulie Malignaggi. The Italian-American appeared to be sporting a black eye after their gym sessions and later said that McGregor had pop in his punches, but neglected to give away anymore information, as
part of the often observed gym code.

Malignaggi has long been critical of the bout taking place but, similarly to his criticisms of the PBC before he joined up, he seems happy to endorse the contest after joining McGregor’s camp. He also praised Conor’s ring brain, saying: “He’s going to have his own style and set of things he does. He’s got a game plan. It’s not what people think.”

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Paulie in his prime was a skilled, fast boxer who will certainly add a degree of credibility to McGregor’s cause. Malignaggi was never a big puncher in heyday though and would provide the perfect foil when planning to time against Floyd’s fast-handed attacks. Views on Conor’s keys to victory are mixed. Some observers think that rushing Mayweather early and trying to use explosiveness and an element of surprise as a strategy could work well. Others see his height and reach advantages as playing a part. However, it’s particularly difficult to imagine a novice pugilist keeping a highly-skilled operative like Mayweather at bay with long spearing jabs and whipping hooks.

Mayweather’s style has subtly transitioned since he turned pro in 1996 at super-featherweight. The fast, flashy, accurate puncher that was ‘Pretty Boy’ Mayweather has been replaced by the ultra-cautious, defensive wizard that is ‘Money’. Much of this is down to Floyd’s ongoing hand issues which have plagued him throughout his career but became increasingly noticeable as he moved up through the weights.

Before the Manny Pacquiao bout, Mayweather’s hand wrapper and cutman, Rafael Garcia, said he uses a mysterious medicine from Mexico to soothe Floyd’s sore digits, but refused to elaborate any further. Mayweather hasn’t scored a knockout since 2011 when Victor Ortiz dropped a headbutt and Floyd drew him on to a two-shot sucker punch combination. Before that, you have to travel back to 2007 and a 10th round stoppage of Ricky Hatton.

In the lead-up to August 26, the fighting pair will endure stringent drug testing from USADA throughout the build-up. One person who is dismissing McGregor’s chances in any shape or form is former heavyweight legend Mike Tyson.

“McGregor is going to get killed in boxing,” said Tyson, as reported in the Daily Telegraph.

“I got mad because I thought they were going to use MMA rules against boxing because that’s what it’s all about: Can the boxer beat the MMA guy?”

As mentioned previously, boxing as a tall southpaw, McGregor’s stance and size advantages have given certain people hope. After all, didn’t Floyd carefully manoeuvre around a similar obstacle in the form of Paul Williams many years ago? Of course this is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion. McGregor simply cannot summon up enough boxing ability to pull off the type of performance that Williams would’ve been capable of. Conor has opted to keep regular coach John Kavanagh on board, rather than book a high profile candidate like Freddie Roach or Virgil Hunter, which deserves respect for loyalty. Whether they can mastermind success against his supremely gifted opponent is another matter entirely.

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