The last time Floyd Mayweather lost was when he was robbed as an amateur during the semi-finals of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He is unbeaten in 49 fights as a pro. He has never been knocked out.
Yet a flurry of bets has landed on Conor McGregor, making his pro boxing debut, doing just that when the two meet in Mayweather’s 50th fight in Las Vegas next weekend.
UK betting company Betsafe now has odds of 9 to 2 on a knockout victory for the UFC star, down from 15 to 2 recently. In general, the money has been flowing in towards McGregor—95% of the bets and 79% of the money taken has been on the Irishman at one betting Las Vegas casino. McGregor’s odds, though he is still a 5-to-1 outsider, are fast improving from 11 to 1 when the fight was announced.
This has been partly driven by a rule change for the bout itself. Mayweather requested that, instead of standard 10-oz gloves, the fight go on with 8-oz gloves for both men. As we’ve explained, the smaller the gloves, the harder the punches. That 2-oz gap will make a difference—the acceleration of punches is around 40% faster with 8-oz gloves than with 10-oz ones, one study showed, for example.
McGregor normally wears 4-oz fingerless gloves in MMA bouts. He also has a reputation as a man who can knock people out—and quickly.
McGregor’s fans clearly think the smaller gloves favor him in this fight and that they can help the two-weight UFC champion do something that some of the best boxers in the world have been unable to do ever, certainly since Mayweather turned pro in October 1996. McGregor feels the same.
“If we’re 8 oz, I’m struggling to give him two rounds, and that’s the God’s honest truth,” he said. “The only reason I maybe give him two rounds is because in this game the referee stops me from pounding his head into the canvas, and he has 10 seconds to recover. That’s the only reason why he might get to the second round.”