A MARTINEZ, HOST:
It was a matchup some had characterized as bizarre, boxing champ Floyd Mayweather entering the ring on Saturday night with UFC fighter and first-time boxer Conor McGregor. In the 10th round, Mayweather had McGregor on the ropes, and the referee stopped the fight, delivering Mayweather a victory by technical knockout. Joining me now to discuss last night's fight is Ben Fowlkes. He's a columnist for mmajunkie.com. Ben, thanks so much for being here.
BEN FOWLKES: Hey. Thanks for having me.
MARTINEZ: All right, this match pitted one of the all-time boxing greats, Mayweather, against a mixed martial arts champion, McGregor. What did you expect going in? What did you actually see coming out?
FOWLKES: Well, I will admit I did not have huge high expectations for Conor McGregor's boxing game just 'cause we did not even know if he had won prior to this. But he acquitted himself very well in the fight. You know, he arguably won at least the first three rounds - won the first round on all three judges' scorecards - I think surprised a lot of people. I mean, Mayweather is not known as a very fast starter or a very aggressive starter in the beginning.
But still, to see Conor McGregor go out there, land some jabs against somebody like Floyd Mayweather and hang tough the way he did - I think that was a pleasant surprise for a lot of people who mainly bought it, I think, because it's kind of a cultural curiosity, not because they expected a really great, competitive fight.
MARTINEZ: Yeah. But most people just thought that if McGregor had a chance at all, he would try and knock out Floyd early. But then he lasted - as you just mentioned, he lasted 10 whole rounds. Do you think this brings any legitimacy to MMA fighters in the eyes boxing fans?
FOWLKES: Well, boxing fans and MMA fans have kind of a tortured relationship as it is. MMA fans, I think, sometimes have a little bit of a little brother complex when it comes to boxing. And they have been criticized saying that, you know, the technique isn't good or that MMA is barbaric. And I don't know if it's necessarily going to change people's minds. I think a lot of people saw what they wanted to see with something like this.
But I do think - you know, you heard Mayweather after the fight that he was surprised at how good a boxer Conor McGregor was. I think it proved that just because, you know, you are in one sport doesn't mean you can't also go in there and do the other one. I mean - and I think if you had Mayweather trying to cross over in the other direction, it would be a lot less competitive.
So I do think you have to give Conor McGregor his props in that sense. At the same time, Floyd Mayweather fought a noncharacteristic fight for him, a little more aggressive going after - looking for the finish there. And that definitely did affect the kind of fight that you saw.
MARTINEZ: Now, Floyd Mayweather says that this was his last fight. I'll believe it when I see it, Ben, because he is going to make about $300 million for this. So I could (laughter) - if that paycheck is down the road again, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to cash that again. But do you think it's true, or what do you think with Floyd Mayweather? Is he done forever? I mean, he would finish with a 50-0 record if he ends it.
FOWLKES: Well, you always have to take anything a boxer says about his future...
MARTINEZ: (Laughter) Yeah.
FOWLKES: ...Or any fighter says about his future in the ring with a grain of salt because, like you said, Mayweather is especially known as a guy who likes money and really likes spending money. So...
MARTINEZ: It's his nickname, Money Mayweather, yeah.
FOWLKES: That's right. And, you know, he may - if he sees another opportunity, you know, maybe to do a rematch of this fight or some other big fight, I think it would take something really colossal to get him to consider doing it again. And he did look a little bit slower. He started to look 40 years old, so I think that he's probably aware of that.
But if there is a big paycheck in it, all those guys are going to consider it again, especially if you keep winning them all, then you don't have as much reason to really consider retirement if you're not in there taking bad beatings.
MARTINEZ: That's Ben Fowlkes columnist for mmajunkie.com. Ben, thanks a lot.
FOWLKES: Yeah, thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.