Master salesman. Maestro of the noble arts. Merciless executioner.
Maybe not quite master of the universe but a breaker of yet more records on this cleverly contrived occasion and a redeemer of himself in the eyes of a public jaundiced by the anti-fight with Manny Pacquiao.
Floyd Mayweather, the Money man and now the history man. This 50th victory lifts him one clear of the legendary Rocky Marciano’s mark for retiring undefeated.
Fifty and out, he confirmed: ‘It’s my last fight.’
He has gone with the bang he wanted. His first knock out for six years through which he boxed more with consummate ease than a killer instinct.
McGregor? He started strong as he promised and then hung in there as he was outclassed, took his punishment like a cage man – and as he should – long enough so that the public who paid plenty did not feel short-changed.
Yet there can be no denying that the richest boxing match of all time was contrived to serve Mayweather’s final needs and desires.
The inundation of the pay-per-view cables which delayed the start suggest that he will bank more than $300million for boxing his final 10 rounds, one minute and five seconds.
And while McGregor gets a life-changing $100m for first dreaming up this fantasy, it is Mayweather who keeps the fighting emperor’s clothes.
Had he lost, mixed martial arts and the UFC in particular would be crowing now.
Mayweather’s parting gift to the sport which has enriched him beyond Croesus has been to save boxing from being knocked off it upward trajectory.
So he should have done. In the analysis, the fighting Irishman in the opposite corner and from a parallel warrior universe was never going to live with the skills of the finest pugilist of his age. Not in his first professional boxing match. That the whole charade avoided anti-climax and fiasco was a relief but it was still a circus, not championship boxing.
What the ticket buyers had to admire for the thousands of dollars reach was McGregor making a fist of it and, above all, a farewell demonstration of the technical brilliance and supreme ring intelligence of Mayweather.
Having spent the second half of his career on the defence and counter, he came forward to crowd McGregor, cramp the bigger man’s punches and bamboozle, then belabour him at close quarters.
It was a masterclass but it was conducted not against a rival, but a pupil.
After lengthy instructions as to what is allowed in boxing, they did touch gloves. McGregor came charging and dancing as expected. Mayweather backed away to absorb the assault and when he did try a jab to the stomach it fell so short that The Notorious mocked him, going far as to put his hands behind his back. Two good lefts ensured a startlingly good beginning for McGregor.
McGregor was booed for a rabbit punch but was boxing much better than most of us expected. He even switched effectively from southpaw to orthodox for an effective combination which gave him the second round.
Mayweather was feeling his way into this fight but still having trouble with McGregor’s height and reach. The right jab was bothering Mr Money and the UFC man’s changes of movement and styles kept him in the ascendancy.
Mayweather could not afford to dither much longer — and he knew it. The old maestro went to work to head and body, not only getting himself on the scorecard at last but backing up McGregor.
The McGregor jabs were more of nuisance now than a threat and Mayweather kept advancing through them. The pressure began to tell and McGregor stumbled back from a smatter of shots. It showed, too, when the Irishman said something to Mayweather at the end of the round and was pushed for his trouble.
Mayweather began to take charge. A succession of rights to the head sent McGregor staggering and gasping and there were roars of ‘Money, Money’ to drown out the Irish chants.
Mayweather kept marching forward. There did not appear to be as much KO power in the McGregor left as in the light MMA gloves. Again Mayweather had him on the retreat. Again the right was signalling that the end may be coming.
It was now one way traffic. McGregor was being outclassed and bewildered as a novice should be. He also looked to be tiring as more precise Mayweather punches landed.
McGregor got desperate and was warned sternly by referee Robert Byrd for hitting behind the head. He was reeling before more big right and lefts, grabbed Mayweather to survive a torrid round.
And then it was over. Mayweather unleashed a barrage that left McGregor helpless on the ropes and the referee had no option but to intervene.