Jim Lampley certainly has reason to be biased in his analysis of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Conor McGregor fight.
After all, Lampley is the longtime voice of HBO Boxing and the recently announced cross-codes super-fight will be broadcast on rival network Showtime. Not only that, but there is reason to believe, as Lampley and others have stated over the last few days, that those involved in the Mayweather – McGregor fight have deliberately tried to damage a pair of big HBO Pay-per-view bouts with their timing.
The fact that they chose to announce the fight a few days before Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev 2 certainly took a lot of attention away from the intriguing light-heavyweight match-up and by holding the bout on August 26th they are likely to sap some of the PPV revenue from Gennady Golovkin vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, which will air on HBO exactly three weeks later.
However, when Lampley tore into the fight during an interview with Fight Hub TV, calling it a “mismatch” and “something of a freak show”, you didn’t get the sense that he did so because of an allegiance to HBO. Rather, he did so as a boxing fan who feels that the bizarre spectacle shouldn’t be allowed to detract from genuine high-quality boxing matches.
“I call it [Bobby] Riggs/[Billie Jean] King,” Lampley said of the fight, comparing it to a 1970’s tennis match between a retired male player and a top-level, active female player that was promoted as “The Battle of The Sexes”. “Because that’s really what it is, it’s a hybrid event, something of a freak show” added Lampley.
“And you need to watch it or you think you need to watch it, because your neighbor or all your friends on social media are going to watch it, to see this odd confrontation between a guy from MMA and a boxer. People who do two different things, and they’re going to box, in a boxing ring, with boxing rules. So, does anybody really believe they don’t know who’s going to win?”
Aside from the comparison to Riggs/King, Lampley wasn’t saying anything here that we haven’t heard before. He was just expressing the widely held opinion that the fight’s outcome is as close to predetermined has one can get without a fix.
However, when interviewer Marcos Villegas put it to Lampley that he has heard from a surprising number of people who give the UFC lightweight champion a chance, Jim went a little bit deeper, quoting CompuBox stats to show that McGregor is not stylistically the type of fighter whom has given Mayweather trouble in the past.
“Let me tell you something, CompuBox – which I very much trust and appreciate as an analytical tool – tracked 10 Conor Mcgregor fights,” Lampley said. “And I looked last night at the numbers from what they did. And I didn’t realize this, because I don’t watch MMA, he’s not an attacker, he’s a counter-puncher. He’s a guy who stands back, waits for the opponent to come to him, and tries to knock him out with one big shot.
“You know what Floyd Mayweather does against counter-punchers? He watches them, and he waits for them to make a move on him, because he’s not going to bother to play into their hands by walking in toward them and giving them opportunities. Here’s another thing: in the 10 events that CompuBox tracked Conor McGregor spent 21 minutes on his feet. He’s gonna spend 36 minutes on his feet in one fight against Floyd Mayweather. That’s a whole new experience. And by the way, Conor McGregor – in those fights tracked by CompuBox – landed about… or excuse me, threw about 42 strikes per round. That means that, not only is he a counter-puncher, but that he’s a relatively slow paced counter-puncher.”
“The only two fighters that ever gave Floyd Mayweather any difficulty over long stretches of time were Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana – two pure brawlers, with great physical strength, who pushed Floyd into the ropes and threw 75 or 80 punches a round, trying to land something. That does not describe Conor McGregor. So, this is a mismatch in even more ways than I thought was originally the case.”
There is little denying that the pressuring style of Castillo and Maidana gave Mayweather serious problems. Many people still feel that Mayweather should not have been given the decision against Castillo in the first of their two encounters and Maidana’s rough tactics in the first fight made it compelling enough to secure the Argentine a rematch. McGregor shares very few stylistic similarities with either man.
If one were trying to pick apart Lampley’s argument, however, you could find fault in his decision to compare strike-rates between boxing and MMA. Due to the fact that there are grappling elements involved in the latter sport and due to the fact that one must be constantly on the look out for multiple threats, strikes are generally thrown more sparingly in MMA than in boxing. Still, his categorization of McGregor as a counter-striker is correct in spite of the slightly flawed logic.
Another point worth making, is that Lampley mentioned the physical strength of both Maidana and Castillo as factors in their success against Mayweather. He may not have to boxing nous to use it to his advantage but McGregor is probably a stronger man than both the boxers.
Regardless, it’s hard to argue with the general thrust of Lampley’s argument.
You can watch the entire interview below…