Mayweather stops McGregor in 10th round

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. figured out his 50th opponent.

In a much-hyped battle with Conor McGregor, the unbeaten boxer let the mixed martial artist have the early rounds before battering McGregor around the ring as the fight wore on. McGregor was eventually left on the ropes, defenseless and exhausted.

When Mayweather landed yet another flurry of punches, referee Robert Byrd stopped Saturday’s fight at 1 minute, 5 seconds of the 10th round.

Before a pro-McGregor crowd that roared every time the UFC star landed a punch, Mayweather methodically broke him down after a slow start to score his first real stoppage in nearly a decade and remain unbeaten. He did it in what he said would be his final fight, against an opponent who had never been in a professional boxing match.

McGregor boxed surprisingly well early, but after landing some shots in the first three rounds, his punches seemed to lose their steam, and Mayweather went on the pursuit. McGregor backpedaled most of the way, stopping only to throw an occasional flurry as Mayweather wore him down.

“Our game plan was to take our time, go to him and take him out in the end,” Mayweather said. “I guaranteed everybody this fight wouldn’t go the distance.”

McGregor, who has held two UFC belts, had vowed to knock Mayweather out within two rounds, and he won the early rounds with movement and punches to the head. But the tide of the fight turned in the fourth round as Mayweather seemed to figure out what he had to do and began aggressively stalking McGregor.

McGregor went over and hugged Mayweather afterward. McGregor seemed almost happy in the ring afterward, secure that he had given a good performance even in losing.

“I was a little fatigued,” he said. “He was composed in there, that’s what 50 pro fights can give you.”

Mayweather now has the best unbeaten record in pro boxing history to himself, surpassing Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 mark.

Mayweather repeated afterward that he was not going to fight again.

“This is my last fight for sure — 50-0 sounds good, I’m looking forward to going into the Hall of Fame,” Mayweather said. “I picked the best dance partner to do it with.”

Though Byrd cautioned McGregor for hitting behind the head on two different occasions, there were no real fouls in the fight and McGregor never tried any MMA tactics.

McGregor was trailing badly on all three ringside scorecards through the ninth round, with scores of 89-81, 89-81 and 87-83. The Associated Press had it 87-84.

“He’s a lot better than I thought he’d be,” said Mayweather, who was a 5-1 favorite. “He’s a tough competitor, but I was the better man tonight.”