KARACHI: In the much-anticipated Fight of the Century, boxing legend Floyd “Money” Mayweather stopped mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Conor “The Notorious” McGregor in the 10th round, just as Pakistan’s own boxing champ Muhammad Waseem had predicted.
Such was McGregor’s hype and standing in the MMA world that many had backed him to spring the surprise of all surprises and defeat his legendary opponent, even though 47 bona fide boxers had failed at same task before him.
Some had gone as far as claiming the Irishman would knock Mayweather out inside a few rounds of his pro debut. But Waseem, a boxing purist, was not one of them.
On the eve of the mega fight, Waseem — the reigning WBC Silver flyweight champion —gave McGregor absolutely no chance.
“No,” Waseem told The Express Tribune when asked if McGregor stood a chance. “It would be very difficult for him to pin Mayweather down. Mayweather is a champion, an undefeated fighter in six weight categories. This is not MMA. It’s Mayweather turf.”
“McGregor could get disqualified even because he may be tempted to use MMA striking when in a tough spot,” he added. “MMA is easy because they can use elbows, kicks and everything, but boxing isn’t like that. McGregor would realize that he only has his fists to use.”
That prophecy also almost came true as McGregor was warned several times to not use hammers fists in the earlier rounds.
But for all his spot-on predictions, Waseem was wrong on one count — that being the event not being exciting enough.
Despite nothing being on the line, the fight exceeded expectations and gave both the boxing and MMA fans the entertainment they were promised.
“We need to understand that boxing is a bigger sport than MMA, and this fight really doesn’t feel that exciting,” said Waseem, who is in Panama these days training for his own bout. “It is all about money, there is no title involved. It is about money, and for Mcgregor, it is about reaching to more people with such stunts.”
Boxing and MMA may seem the same thing to the common eye, but Waseem feels such are the technical differences in the two that it’s almost impossible for an MMA fighter to defeat a pro pugilist inside the ring.
In fact, Waseem feels McGregor would have lost had he been up against him rather than Mayweather.
“Even I can defeat McGregor in boxing as boxers are more technical,” he said. “Of course, if I do MMA I will lose.”