Was Conor McGregor lasting ten rounds really that unexpected?

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    Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, speaks with Conor McGregor after a super welterweight boxing match Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

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    How did a fight between one of the greatest boxers of all time and a guy who had never fought in the ring before go deep into the latter rounds?

    Conor McGregor should be congratulated for his performance, however the fight lasting as long as it did isn’t quite as unexpected when one looks a little under the surface.

    While he would have been confident, Floyd Mayweather also had everything to lose – a loss to a boxing unknown would not have done any favours for his impeccable record and legacy.

    Mayweather is the ultimate boxer: technically sound and measured, confident, but respectful of all opponents. He has superior ringcraft to all he has faced, is prepared to be patient, and looks to out-box his opponents. He is allusive and has great defence.

    With McGregor having limited experience and ringcraft, and a lack of ‘match fitness’, Mayweather knew that the strategy to guarantee a win was to take McGregor deep into the fight. McGregor’s only chance of winning was to sting him early and come at him hard.

    So, what did Mayweather do in those early rounds? He let McGregor come hard at him, threw few punches himself, and allowed the Irishman to use the best part of his energy early – even allowing him to win those early rounds. He was never going to take McGregor on in a stand-up fight early, as that would have given McGregor a punching chance.

    Round by round, as McGregor kept coming with less and less energy, Mayweather started to assert himself, and by the mid rounds he had taken control of the fight. While McGregor battled on, the contest was over.

    By Mayweather taking this approach, he did what he has always done: be respectful to his opponent, and be measured and calculating to maximise his chances of winning the fight.

    Approaching this fight in this way, Mayweather honoured the late and great Muhammad Ali in how he took down George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.