BEREA, Ohio -- The boxing match featuring unretiring champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and two-division mixed martial arts titlist Conor McGregor captivated the sports world when it was confirmed back in May, and people have been predicting the result since before the ink was dry on the contract.
Count Cleveland Browns defensive back Jabrill Peppers as one of those who believe Mayweather will beat McGregor, who will make his boxing debut in the fight against the former world champion, when they do battle in a scheduled 12-round bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas tonight.
“I've got to go with Floyd,” Peppers said during training camp. “His record speaks for itself, the guys he beat. Conor's more of an MMA guy. I'm not saying he won't fare well, but you're talking about the best to ever do it.”
Last November, McGregor came to Madison Square Garden in New York City looking to make history and become the first simultaneous two-division champion in the history of the UFC, and that is exactly what he did.
Courtesy of a knockout of Eddie Alvarez in the main event of UFC 205 at "The World's Most Famous Arena," the 5-foot-9, 155-pound McGregor added the UFC lightweight championship to his resume, going along with the featherweight title he won in December of 2015.
While taking a right-handed punch from Alvarez, McGregor fired off a powerful left hand that landed on the side of the defending champion’s face. McGregor followed it up with a right hand to Alvarez’s jaw, a left to the ear and another right that eventually floored his opponent.
Once Alvarez was on the mat, McGregor landed two left-handed punches, and that forced referee “Big” John McCarthy to call a stop to the bout at the 1:52 mark of the second round.
Crossover bouts in combat sports rarely happen between boxers and MMA practitioners, but McGregor wanted the match, and was willing to risk the transition by going into the boxing ring because of his success of punching out his opponents inside The Octagon.
Of McGregor’s 21 professional MMA wins, 18 have come via knockout or technical knockout, and 16 resulted from punches.
“That's like saying a soccer player could come over here and start at receiver or something,” Peppers said. “Just because he's a good soccer player doesn't mean he's a good football player. He has footwork. That doesn't mean he can come out here and have the natural instincts like people who have been doing what they've been doing for so long.”
Prior to his retirement in 2015, the 5-foot-8, 151-pound Mayweather won the WBC super featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight crowns, along with the IBF welterweight title, WBA (Super) light middleweight and (Super) welterweight titles and WBO welterweight championship.
On his way to the 49-0 record, Mayweather defeated Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marcos Maidana (twice), Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya, all of whom are current or were former champions across several weight classes.
“Now if it was MMA, then I'd give it to Conor because that's not what Floyd does, but boxing's not what Conor does,” Peppers said.