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Clash of styles and egos should have an explosive ending

Strengths, weaknesses and tips for the main event

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor (right)
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Las Vegas has played host to many unlikely events over the years, but this is a first even for Sin City.

Boxing purists are adamant that it is a farce, a circus, a mismatch of preposterous proportions but punters beg to disagree and are falling over themselves to back the underdog.

Conor McGregor’s odds have shrunk from an initial 9-1 to 7-2 and if he can get the job done bookies on both sides of the Atlantic face one of their biggest ever sports betting payouts.

But surely even in the wacky world of prizefighting a complete novice, on his boxing debut, cannot dethrone the most decorated and revered fighter the sport has seen in a generation?

Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, the world’s most highly-paid sportsman, unblemished and undefeated in the ring, is going for a record-breaking 50th victory, while McGregor has never competed in a professional boxing match.

Has the world gone completely mad or could the two-weight UFC mixed martial arts champion be about to cause one of the most dramatic upsets ever seen in a sporting arena?

It’s a plot befitting of Rocky 17 and the world is hooked.

Everyone knows what should happen, but things in Las Vegas often don’t go to plan

Floyd 'Money' Mayweather
Not only has he never been beaten, Mayweather has barely been touched by anyone in the ring, largely due to his incredible defensive skills and almost Jedi-like reflexes. 

Despite a private life that to most regular folk seems chaotic, he is always in incredible condition and never looks like he is tiring in the ring - nine of his last ten fights have gone 12 rounds.

His ability to read an opponent and if necessary change tactics mid-fight is an extremely rare commodity, and his footwork, timing and precision punching are exceptional.

Outside the ring he is a master at mind games and manipulation, and often has an opponent beaten before the first bell.

It’s difficult to pick holes in Mayweather’s game, but there are things to consider. The most obvious is that he is 40 years old, and has been retired for two years, while old injuries have given him brittle hands, which explains only one KO in his last ten fights.

If he has slowed down slightly with age, it could have a major impact on his ability to avoid punches, and he may find it difficult to read an opponent who doesn’t move like a boxer. 

For the first time in his career he was not the main man during the promotion for this fight, and with most experts saying he will win easily, he must avoid complacency, and resist the temptation to ditch his usual tactics in favour of a slugfest.

Keys to victory
If Mayweather puts in a typically flawless performance he should win without too many problems, but he must concentrate on avoiding the traps of an opponent he will regard as well beneath him.

He must not allow McGregor the space to utilise his unorthodox movement and take his time. The longer the fight goes the better his chances.

Best ways to back him
Floyd's odds have come in from 1-20 to 1-4 purely based on the weight of money for McGregor, so that will appeal to big hitters who don't believe the hype. 

The gulf in boxing ability should be huge and after a few rounds it's conceivable that a frustrated and tiring Conor could be overwhelmed by Mayweather's timing and precision punching.

With that in mind backing Mayweather to win in rounds five to eight could be on the money, but more statistical punters may favour Mayweather to be his usual efficient self and win on points at 3-1. Nine of his last ten fights have gone the distance.

'The Notorious' Conor McGregor
McGregor is a superb athlete whose incredible work ethic and will to win have seen him rise to the top of MMA at a frightening pace. He is 11 years younger, bigger and has a longer reach.

Much has been made of his big left hand, and southpaws have caused Mayweather a few problems in the past, but he also has a great right hook, is comfortable leading with his left or right and is used to throwing punches from well outside boxers' usual range.  

McGregor has unique movement in MMA and he will hope to bamboozle Mayweather with footwork he has never previously encountered. 

He is incredibly intelligent and his confidence and charisma are on a level even Mayweather could not match during the press tour. He has the ability to get into opponents' heads and draw them into mistakes they would never normally make.

He has never fought a professional boxing match before, and no matter how much training he does he will never get anywhere near the level of Mayweather. 

That may not be a problem on offence as he is well versed in the art of throwing punches, but defensively he may be wide open whenever Mayweather decides to hit him, and he could be especially vulnerable to counter-punches, which is one of Floyd's specialities. 

Stand-up MMA fighters such as McGregor pay little attention to blocking punches as they are more concerned with takedown defence and head kicks. and he could plan on just walking through Mayweather's attacks. But Conor may be surprised just how hard and fast an elite-level boxer hits.

Keys to victory
McGregor cannot hope to outbox Mayweather so he must use his martial arts experience and movement to give his opponent problems he has never encountered before in a boxing ring. 

He must use all the tricks in the book to lure Mayweather into a brawl, because if it turns into a street fight he is more than capable of giving him big problems. 

Best ways to back him
With his odds shortening to almost ridiculous levels it is hard to find a value bet on McGregor in any of the popular markets.

Mystic Mac is famous for predicting his own fights and he says he will KO Floyd within four rounds. There is no reason doubt to his intentions, and he can be backed to win in rounds one to four at 7-1.

Four of his nine UFC wins have been in the first round, which is a 25-1 shot, and it's the same price for round two. A knockout win for McGregor at any stage is 9-2.

McGregor is a smart fighter who is used to knocking people out quickly, and he will surely think that he best chance of beating Mayweather is to go for broke from the first bell and look to catch him cold. 

Both men know that in a 'real' fight Conor would destroy Floyd easily so he will have no fear in letting his shots go and have little respect for anything the American does, at least at first.

Mayweather has said he will meet McGregor in the middle of the ring and will not take a backward step. That would be a departure from his usual tactics, but agreeing to wear lighter 8oz gloves and an urge to put the novice in his place suggest there may be something in it. 

Regardless of tactics, Mayweather should quickly realise how easy McGregor is to hit and that may lead to some interesting exchanges early on, so backing under 6.5 total rounds at 11-8 looks a decent bet. 

Another that appeals is over 2.5 knockdowns at 4-1. MMA fighters are used to getting knocked down in fights and getting straight back up so if Conor hits the deck, expect him to carry on and go back to the same tactics. 

Finally, consider backing McGregor to be docked a point at 5-2. He has had retired Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez in his training camp helping with preparation, but Conor will look to use his size and strength advantage at every opportunity, especially in clinches, and could easily cross the line of what is acceptable. 

Under 6.5 total rounds
1pt 11-8 Betway, Sky Bet
Over 2.5 knockdowns 
1pt 4-1 Betway
C McGregor to be docked a point by the referee
1pt 5-2 Paddy Power

McGregor cannot hope to outbox Mayweather so he must use his martial arts experience and movement to give him problems he has never encountered before
E.W. Terms
Sky bet