The time to talk came and went — and then returned.
Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor had talked an ugly talk before they fought their highly anticipated fight. Those anticipatory words were coarse and corrosive, tiresome braggadocio mingling with outright bigotry. But after Mayweather defeated McGregor by TKO in the 10th round of their boxing match on Saturday night, both fighters opted to strike different tones from behind the podium during a post-fight press conference.
Occasionally candid and even complimentary, Mayweather and McGregor discussed the fight, boxing strategy, refereeing, the crowd, and the flurry of answered punches that halted the bout. Here are some of the key quotes from both fighters:
Mayweather on strategy:
“We've been doing this for 21 years. I told you guys I'd come straight ahead. So, you know, coming straight ahead I was going to take some contact. I could have sat back and just boxed and counterpunched and made it boring. I didn't want to do that. I felt like I owed the fans a last hurrah. So I went out there and that was the game plan.
“Me and my dad communicated before we went out there. The whole game plan was to go out there and let him shoot heavy shots from the beginning, take him down the stretch and do what we do best.
“I told you guys there would be blood, sweat, tears. I told you guys he was a hell of a fighter standing up — kinda shocked me. I told my dad. It was something I was talking to my dad about that we would keep amongst us because certain things don't go out to the public. But we had a game plan.
“Our game plan was to take our time, let him shoot all his heavy shots, keep walking him down, keep walking him down, shoot heavy shots to the body, shoot big shots upstairs. My dad thought it was going to be a little bit earlier, around the seventh or the sixth. It took us a little longer than expected, but we did what we said we was going to do. And I promise everybody, remember this, I guaranteed this fight wouldn't go the distance. I was going for the knockout. I was going straight ahead. And with going straight ahead, you're going to take contact. I understand that.
“After 21 years in the sport of boxing, I had some great fights, I had some boring fights. But, at the end of the day, I will always be remembered as a winner. No matter how you win, as long as you win. I know how to dissect my opponent. I know how to go out there and break him down and just stick to the game plan.”
McGregor on how the fight played out
“It was a good fight. I thought I smoked him in the early rounds. I thought I bushed you up the early rounds. But I tell you what, you're one composed individual. You didn't get rattled. You tucked in when you needed to tuck in. I thought you switched up your game plan three times. You came out looking to box. I thought you were being outboxed early on. You looked to play against the ropes like you like to play. You were getting kicked off there and then you came in hands up toward your forehead, dipped in forehead on the chest and tried to fight that kind of fight. I didn't anticipate that. Three game changes in the fight. That's what a true champion does. Much respect. You came with it, you know what I mean. I've got to give respect to that.
“It was a hell of a fight. I would have liked to see the end of the 10th. With fatigue there is like a patch somewhere in the middle of fights, even with the Diaz II fight, I have this patch where I must overcome. I get a little wobbly, but it's more fatigue. If you look at the Diaz II fight, I came through that, came back Round 4, round 5. I would have liked to see the end of Round 10 and see where it brought us. But a hell of a competitor. Switched it up, kept the pressure. You've got to give your hat off to Floyd, a hell of a career. Congratulations. It was a good fight. It was a bit of fun! Right? It was a bit of fun!”
Mayweather on McGregor's power
“He was solid. I've been off for a couple of years, and I'm a lot older now. Remember, I told you guys, I'm not the same Floyd Mayweather I was 21 years ago. I told you guys, I'm not the same Floyd Mayweather I was two years ago. But remember I still have a hell of an IQ, and I'm still a thinker.
As far as his punching, he's solid. I mean, I've felt it before. It obviously wasn't the type of power to say I can't come forward. If it was that type of power I wouldn't have came forward.”
Mayweather on McGregor’s technique
“I knew he was going to be awkward from the beginning. But right before we came out I talked with the legendary trainer Floyd Mayweather, my father. We talked and we communicated. When I got older, me and my dad is able to talk. There is a difference between when I'm 21 and when I'm 40. Me and my dad is able to have a father-son conversation. We communicated. We talked. And my dad was in the corner a couple of times and he wanted more out of me. But he knew what I was doing. We talked about it in the back. We said the game plan was let him shoot his load, let him shoot all his hard shots. He's going to try to kill me, keep switching, keep switching. We'll take our time, shoot hard shots to the body, and eventually break him down. We get him around the sixth or the seventh, but he lasted a little longer than we expected. But I stuck to the game plan.”
McGregor on Mayweather’s technique
“Floyd’s frames were nice. When he chose his shots and he smothers, he frames, and early on, when he was framing at me, I was trying to shock him and take his back. But midway through the fight when I had his back, the referee was just resetting us in the middle, and somewhere in the middle of all that, I was like ‘I’m using valuable energy here to get to this man’s back, and then we’re just being reset to go again.’ So it kind of flustered me a little bit and he was able to capitalize on it. He's very composed, takes his shots very well, bounces shots off himself very well, and hides himself well. I believe he was hurt a few times but he keeps his composure and doesn't show it.
“I thought I’d put him out there and I went to put him out, and I believe the first couple of shots flustered him and I hit him a few times but then he started reading it and then he started parrying the shots well, he had a good strong parry on his lead hand. He dipped low, caught the body shots well, when he started engaging his right hand to the body, I thought it was very well. I enjoyed the fight. It was a great contest. And a lot of stuff I’ll take with me in my training.”
Mayweather on the referee
“I let the referee do his job. I'm not here to bash the referee. But you guys know what was going on. Lot of rabbit punches, a lot. Things happen, but you live and you learn. The referee is a hell of a referee. Conor McGregor is a hell of a fighter. I'm not here to bash anyone. I just went out there to do my job tonight.
“I'm not here to bash anyone. I knew he was going to be a tough competitor. It's about pushing myself. In No. 49 it wasn't good enough. No. 48 wasn't good enough. So I told you guys I was going to come straight ahead for No. 50 to be good. I can't be the fighter and the ref. I have to choose what I'm going to be. A lot of rabbit punches, lot of hitting in the back of the head, hitting in the back. Once again, I'm not the referee. I'm the fighter. That's for the referee to do his job. And I told the referee in the back, if you go back and view it, when the referee was in the back with me I told him he's going to be doing a lot of rabbit punching. My only concern was hitting me in the back of the head. I said I wanted him to keep the punches on the side and front. But all the shots was coming to the back. But he's tough. He's a tough guy.”
Mayweather on talking trash in the fifth round
“I pushed him and taunted him. 'You still ain't knocked me out yet? I thought you said it wasn't going past four? Show me your real power!' That's all. It was just trash talking that fighters do. Whether it's MMA or boxing, we talk trash. That's what we do. When the best compete against the best we want to be pushed; and that's how boxing and MMA goes.”
Mayweather on glove weight and taking hits
“Remember, I told you guys this. You go back and look at the last press conference, this is exactly what I said: Remember, you can give it, but I've been hit by some of the best punchers in the world throughout my career. Ninety percent of the time I'm dishing it out. I told Conor McGregor. This is exactly what I told him: You can dish it out, but you have to be able to take it. The same way you dish it out, you have to be able to take it.
“Most of the time, your big punchers, they can't take it. They can take it early on, but down the stretch they can't take it.”
McGregor on preparing for fatigue
“One of the main things in camp was go from five rounds to 12 rounds. That was obviously the main fucking thing. I had to experience that 12-round fatigue. And in the spars, with all my sparring partners, when I'd do the 12-round there was always those middle rounds where I'd get to say, six, and then I'd be like, ‘Fuck, I've got so many more rounds left.’ I couldn't see the finish line. But then when I got through them, when I got to Round 10 or certainly 11 and 12 then I could see, ‘OK there is only six minutes left,’ and I could dig deep. Then I'd get that second wind. That's why I would have loved it if I could just got to the end of that 10th round. But the referee I thought did a great job, he let the fight play. I thought Floyd was phenomenal in there, very composed, very selective with his shots. We live and we learn.”
Mayweather on the atmosphere — and the stakes
“I never focus on anything but the guy that's in front of me. I always said this for many, many years. The fans cannot fight for you. One thing I know I can do: I can fight. So the fans, when they shout and scream, I don't worry about nothing. I just keep my composure and stick to the game plan: Constantly keep coming ahead, coming ahead, pushing him, pushing him, pushing him back, pushing him back.
“When he goes back to his corner and he sits down, I said when he come out he's going to come out for 30 seconds and fight hard, and then he's going to break. And once he break I'm going to shoot a hard shot to the body, hit him with a hard shot up top and keep pushing him back, keep pushing him back.
“Remember I told you guys, weight doesn't win fights. Fighting wins fights. And then I said, talking doesn't win fights. Fighting wins fights. Meaning that when we was on stage for the weigh-in, I don't have to do no more talking. We're fighting tomorrow, so I did enough talking on our tour, basically. Everyone is saying, ‘Oh, Mayweather, you were talking on the tour.’ OK, I did a lot of talking on the tour. But now it's time to fight. We 24 hours away from the biggest fight in the world, the biggest combat fight in the world. There's no need to talk anymore. There's no need to talk anymore. And remember, all the fans that was here, those are soccer fans — and for the international people those are football fans. But he's a hell of a fighter.
“And then I hear him talking, ‘You should let me go out on my back or go out on my face.’ No, the referee saves you because the referee is thinking about your future. You're still young and we want you to be able to fight again some day. The referee is saving you, he's not saving me.”
Mayweather on the end of the fight:
“Of course, it's like a Catch 22. If he hit the canvas then they would have said, ‘Why didn't you guys stop it earlier?’ Then when you stop it and they’re going to say, ‘Oh, I didn't hit the canvas.’ I mean, you didn’t throw a punch for a whole minute and was getting hit with big shots. But, like I said, I'm not here to bash Conor McGregor. I'm not here to do that. We done enough talking. I told him before, we both done a lot of talking, a lot of barking. It's time to bite. And that was it.”
McGregor on the scorecards:
“I thought I won the first three rounds clearly. The fourth round could be argued either way. Let's say 3-1. And then he started to take over then. I thought I snuck in Round 8. Then he won Round 9, and then got the stoppage in 10. So what was that 5-4 into the final round, and he got the win. In reality, all that means is nothing. He got the win. Respect to him.”
Mayweather on post-fight greeting
“I told him, ‘You're a tough competitor. Good fight, and keep up the good work.’ I always want to carry myself like a gentleman. Even though, you gotta realize, when we're in the press conferences, and we doing what we doing, that's my job. He's the Notorious One. I'm the Money Man.
“So we gotta give the fans what they want to see. When we did the press tour we went to four cities in three countries in four or five days. So when we had arenas like this packed with 20,000 fans we got to give them a show. And a lot of people thought it was fake. No, we didn't like each other, and we probably still don't like each other. But we still had to act like gentlemen at the end of the day. After making over $300 million I'm not going to be like, ‘Oh, I don't like you.’ Good fight, you know. Make your career go on.”