Floyd Mayweather accepted that Conor McGregor was better than he thought as he was made to work hard for his 10th-round stoppage in their light-middleweight fight in Las Vegas.
McGregor was making his professional boxing debut having moved over from UFC and fared better than most people thought, winning the first few rounds. But Mayweather’s class and experience began to tell and, with McGregor barely able to stand in the 10th round, the referee stopped the fight.
Mayweather said in his post-fight interview in the ring: “He is a tough competitor and I thought we gave the fans what they wanted to see. “He is a lot better than I thought he was, he used different angles and was a tough competitor but I was the better man tonight.
“Our game-plan was to take our time, let him shoot all his heavy shots early on and then take him down at the end, down the stretch.
“We know in the MMA he fights 25 minutes real hard and after that he starts to slow down.
“I guaranteed this fight wouldn’t go the distance. A win is a win.”
Mayweather’s victory takes his record to an unprecedented 50-0 and the 40-year-old insists this was his last outing in the ring: “This was my last fight tonight, my last fight, for sure. I chose the right dance partner to dance with.”
McGregor will walk away with his reputation intact after putting up an accomplished showing in his first professional bout. The 29-year-old believes the referee Robert Byrd called time on the fight too early. “I took the early rounds fairly handy,” he said. “I thought it was close, I thought the stoppage was a bit early, there was a lot on the line and I thought he should have let me carry on.
“I was just a little fatigued. He is composed and you have got to give it to him.
“I thought it was close. I get a little wobbly when I’m tired, it is fatigue, the referee could have let it keep going, let the man put me down. I am clear headed.
“Where were the final two rounds? Let me wobble to the corner and make him put me down.
“I’ve been strangled on live TV and came back. When you’re in here in the squared circle, everything is different.”
On the potential to get back in the square ring, the Irishman added: “We’ll see what happens. I am having a buzz, if anyone wants a knock give me a call.”