Money and Mystics: Mayweather v McGregor prediction and preview, plus projections for all this weekend’s boxing

Conor McGregor knows something that the prevailing wisdom has failed to consider.

Something that can’t be acquired through two decades spent in the squared circle, billions of pad and heavy bag repetitions or pupilage under the sport’s great practitioners.

Mystic Mac knows better than boxing.

And punters are buying it.

Even if they aren’t quite sure what it is.

Such is the weight of his own conviction of genius, odds-makers have reduced McGregor’s odds of winning from an opening price of 7/1 (implied odds of 13%) to 7/2 (22%) due to overwhelming public support for the Irishman.

The hype and intrigue in Saturday’s spectacle in Las Vegas between boxing’s Floyd Mayweather and UFC’s star attraction, Conor McGregor has generated levels of betting activity that haven’t ever been seen on combat sports markets. Betfair, the world’s number one betting exchange, has taken almost £30 million bets on Saturday’s fight. Its previous boxing record was £9 million for Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Dubbed the ‘Superbowl of combat sports’ it is even attracting a Super-bowl like extensive array of side props, or ‘alternative betting markets’, that hungry punters are feasting on.

And most of the action is on the Irishman. One Las Vegas sports-book has reported that they have received a staggering 250x more tickets on Conor McGregor than Floyd Mayweather.

Either the boxing community’s bank accounts are in mothballs or punters are falling at the altar of fighting psychics.

In view of the known facts the degree of Mystic Mac indulgence is astonishing. Or perhaps not – given societies recent aversion to expert opinion.


One can only assume the jauntiness in Conor McGregor’s gait has convinced large swathes of fans that anything is possible.

Our model is not so easily persuaded.

In reality, McGregor’s chances are that of a gunfighter a mile away from his target, with a solitary bullet in the firing chamber.

Floyd Mayweather has even spent time as his opponent’s advocate. Offering up his own age as reason to increase the Irishman’s chances.

He says his legs are not those of a thoroughbred racehorse anymore. But they weren’t two years ago when he was out-foxing Manny Pacquiao.

He speaks of the increasing difficulty of camp due to the decline in physiological reserves and impending decrepitude. But his body is fresh from two years sabbatical.

Two things remain beyond argument. His fighting IQ and accomplishment at the highest level of the sport.

Floyd’s CV is as deep and as thick as Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. There’s not a style or level of fighter he’s not encountered. And only a handful of opponents that have convinced judges they deserved more than three rounds scored for them.

His opponent is a boxing enigma. Our footage of Conor McGregor boxing has been restricted to UFC propaganda. A one minute video of sparring with an unfit retired Paulie Malignaggi. It showed some sharp left crosses, it also showed no understanding of the inside game and a chin so high in the air, pluto was in touching distance.

Examine his UFC footage and you see a rangy counter puncher. A style that Floyd laps up through lead rights, up and down jabs and patience.

But that hasn’t dampened Irish hope. ‘McGregor’s ‘different’ they say. ‘He’s unorthodox’ they say. So was Marcos Maidana – who also happened to be a world-class practicing boxer.

He won seven of twenty-four rounds against Floyd.

Besides, any novice or beginner is unorthodox before they have refined the technical aspects of the sport (which takes years not six months). We can all offer a good impression of drowning man flailing at his upturned sailing vessel.

But ‘McGregor’s bigger’ they say. The Irishman has talked of weighing 170lbs come fight night.

So did Canelo Alvarez.

Marcos Maidana and Victor Ortiz both weighed 165 and 164lbs respectively. They won a collective 11 of 39 rounds against Mayweather.

But ‘Mayweather struggles with southpaws’. He possesses wins over Manny Pacquiao, Robert Guerrero, Victor Ortiz and Zab Judah. All southpaws and only Judah gave him difficulties…for four rounds.

But ‘McGregor’s younger and fresher’ they say. Vitali Klitschko at age 38 and having recently returned from a four-year lay off destroyed contender Chris Arreola (28). His brother Wladimir just recently had a two-year layoff and at age 40 came back to go life and death (most had him winning at time of stoppage) with an Olympic gold medalist and prospective next great Heavyweight Champion.

Need I mention Bernard Hopkins and George Foreman.

And all four of those mentioned will one-day take permanent residence in the boxing Hall of Fame. And every single one will sit in Floyd Mayweather’s shadow.

Play advice: re-mortgage your house and go heavy on the Floyd outright @ 1.29 (-340)* and take a nibble on Floyd by decision.


Undercard thoughts and projections

The undercard is much overlooked but it features one bout that could easily be a stand-alone main-event. Mayweather promoted Badou Jack jumps from 168lbs to the 175lb weight limit to challenge Wales’ Nathan Cleverly.

Cleverly is a face-forward metronome. Launching punches like North Korea launches missiles – with little care for what their opponents think or can offer in return. The potency of such missiles, however, is still up for debate.

Jack is a more assured, technically sound fighter that is continuing to grow in confidence and stature.

Our model projects Badou Jack as the likely winner with his chances of winning at 79 per cent. With decision being the most likely method of victory (64 per cent).

With current best odds on a Jack decision at 4/5 (-125) there’s value in a Jack decision.

Also on the undercard, Floyd Mayweather protegé Gervonta Davis takes on little known Francisco Fonseca. Many perceive this to be a mismatch noting that of Fonseca’s 20 professional fights, 18 have taken place in his native Costa Rica.

Steer clear.

Other bouts: Steve Cunningham vs Andrew Tabiti. Outrageous odds on Cunningham and worth a play.

Meanwhile, boxing in the shadows in Carson, California the future Hall-of-Famer and Puerto Rican star, Miguel Cotto moves back to 154lbs to contest a trinket against battle hardened and seemingly indestructible Yoshihiro Kamegai.

Cotto Kamegai

Cotto’s recent move to Golden Boy and his wish to fight again in 2017, then retire, is intimation that this an appetizer before the main course. The Golden Boy matchmaker has been tasked with supplying an easily digestible foe at little expense. Cue Yoshihiro Kamegai.

Kamegai is the samurai without the sword. All the mettle and courage but bereft of precision and sharpness.

The line here would suggest some sharps think Cotto is slipping. Maybe its the 18 month absence from the ring. But boxing Alzheimers certainly hasn’t manifested in the ring. In his most recent outing he was competitive with Canelo Alvarez despite being smaller and less talented.

Have a nibble at Cotto outright 1/4 (-400) and don’t pass up that 9/4 (+225) KO prop.


Summary of plays:

Floyd Mayweather 18u to win @ 1.29 (-340)*

Floyd Mayweather 3u to win DEC @ 10/3 (+333)

Badou Jack 3u to win DEC @ 4/5 (-125)

Steve Cunningham 3u to win @ 11/4 (+275)

Miguel Cotto 7u to win  1/4 (-400)

Miguel Cotto 3u to win KO @ 9/4 (+225)


*Twitter followers would have received this advised play on Wednesday this week.

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