Conor McGregor lost out to Floyd Mayweather in the much-hyped fight in Las Vegas at the weekend, but he surprised many by making it to the 10th round. It was a strong performance from a complete novice to the discipline fighting against arguably the best boxer of his generation. Mayweather now retires with a perfect 50-0 record, but McGregor is at something of a crossroads. Will he slink back to the UFC and accept far smaller prize purses to fight in a sport he has excelled at? Or will he remain in boxing and try to establish himself there, pocketing more money but risking his reputation? Bookmakers made a killing out of his defeat at the hands of Mayweather as many armchair fans were seduced by long odds and backed the Irishman. But they are keen to make more from the betting public and have released betting odds on who McGregor will fight next, what discipline it will be in and how he will fare.
Paddy Power clearly believes McGregor will remain in boxing after his encouraging performance against Mayweather. He would do well to start at the bottom of the ladder and work his way up, beating journeymen and then progressing before finally taking on the very best in the business when he has more experience under his belt. But that is not McGregor’s way. He is a PR machine, a man for the big occasions, and he will only fight in bouts that generate a huge amount of attention.
So Paddy Power has made former WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi the 9/4 favourite to be his next opponent. Next up is British Olympic hero and former world champion Amir Khan with at 5/1, followed by the legend that is Manny Pacquiao at 10/1. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, who are due to fight in a couple of weeks for the world title, are next at 33/1 and 50/1 respectively.
Another option would be a rematch with Mayweather. It is unlikely because Mayweather said it would be his last fight following his victory at the weekend. At 40, he is rich beyond his wildest dreams and has nothing left to prove. But you never know: he could grow bored and look for another payday. BetOnline is offering 7/2 on there being a rematch between now and the end of 2018 and 1/6 on no rematch. It has 9/2 on a boxing rematch and 25/1 on an MMA rematch, which would be sensational but foolhardy on Mayweather’s part as McGregor would likely annihilate him in an octagon. If there is a rematch, McGregor would be 12/1 and Mayweather 1/20.
But far more likely is a fight against Malignaggi. McGregor chose the New Yorker as a sparring partner during the buildup to his fight against Mayweather, and it ended up mired in controversy. Rumours abounded that a sparring session between the pair had become violent, and footage was released by UFC boss Dana White of Malignaggi being knocked down. Malignaggi vehemently railed against this, arguing that he was pushed, and said the full video should be released. He claimed to have dominated McGregor in the sparring session and said he heard the Irishman whimper. There is a great deal of animosity between the pair and the fight could be on. Paddy Power is offering 2/5 on Malignaggi and 9/4 on McGregor, which looks an interesting line. McGregor is hugely inexperienced and tired in the latter stages against Mayweather, having never fought for so long professionally, so Malignaggi would fancy his chances of doing a similar job. However, Malignaggi, who retired this year with a record of 36-8, is no Mayweather and was knocked out in his last fight by British youngster Sam Eggington, and McGregor would have a much better chance of victory now that he is more experienced.
Of course, McGregor could go back to UFC for his next fight, and Nate Diaz would be chomping at the bit. It is 1-1 between the pair after two fights and the decider would generate an enormous amount of hype, perhaps earning a bigger prize pot than ever seen before in MMA history. If it happens, McGregor is 1/2 with Sky Bet to win this fight, with Diaz coming in at 6/4.