LAS VEGAS – For weeks, odds on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor kept dropping as bettors relentlessly put their money on the Irishman who holds the UFC lightweight championship belt.
Though record amounts were bet – the William Hill sports books reported early Saturday that total handle on the bout had already doubled the 2015 record set between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – it was all for naught.
Mayweather left the ring for the final time Saturday a winner once more, capping a brilliant career by going to 50-0 with harder-than-expected victory over a game challenger at T-Mobile Arena. He stopped McGregor at 1:05 of the 10th round, landing a series of unanswered blows that forced referee Robert Byrd to jump between them.
“I think we gave the world a heck of a fight,” Mayweather said in the ring after the fight. “It was the same gameplan. I wanted to stay going straight ahead. I thought if I stayed going straight ahead I would be able to get him. I really wanted to get him.”
Judges had it 87-83, 89-81 and 89-82 for Mayweather at the time of the stoppage. Yahoo Sports had it 87-84 for Mayweather.
The unique match between a boxer and a mixed martial artist drew massive worldwide attention and the fight more than lived up to the billing. McGregor did well, not looking all that out of place and competing on more than even terms early.
Mayweather, who has defeated two boxers (Oscar De La Hoya and Arturo Gatti) already in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, put the cap on his legendary career with his first knockout since he caught Victor Ortiz in 2011 while Ortiz looked away.
McGregor tired from the relentless flood of right hands from Mayweather and was all but on empty by the time the 10th started.
Mayweather landed a blistering straight right that sent McGregor staggering back into the ropes. McGregor was woozy and wobbly and Mayweather landed a hook and followed it with a right.
Mayweather, who landed 170 of 320 of his punches, had McGregor in serious jeopardy when Byrd jumped in.
“I owed the fans for that [Manny] Pacquiao fight and so I had to go straight at him,” Mayweather said.
McGregor’s gas tank was an issue coming into the fight and it proved to be his undoing. While he did far better than anyone expected – he looked much like a seasoned boxer despite only training in the sport for about nine months – but he wasn’t able to keep his wind in the second half.
According to CompuBox ShoStats, Mayweather outlanded McGregor 130-60 in Rounds 6 through 10 after McGregor had a 51-40 edge through the first five rounds.
“In MMA, they only fight 25 minutes,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather, who slipped past legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano by winning his 50th bout without a loss or a draw, announced his retirement in the ring.
“This was my last fight, ladies and gentlemen,” Mayweather said.
McGregor was his usual witty and affable self after the bout, but he also paid respect to his opponent.
“He was so composed,” McGregor said. “He’s not that powerful, but boy is he composed.”
McGregor didn’t seem to take the knockout hard. He said, “I got strangled on TV before and I came back.”
McGregor said he felt the fight should have been allowed to continue – “Let me go down. Let him put me down,” he said – but he seemed pleased enough with his performance.
He also said “of course” he would return to the UFC.
More Mayweather-McGregor coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• McGregor unhappy with stoppage: ‘Let the man put me down!’
• Sports world reacts to Mayweather’s 50th career win
• Why was Floyd Mayweather wearing a ski mask?