There's no question that the upcoming Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight has become a spectacle -- a matchup between two villains defined by explosive press conferences, media frenzies and multi-million-dollar winnings.
But part of what makes the fight so compelling is that McGregor, the reigning UFC Lightweight champion, is crossing disciplines to face an undefeated boxer. We talked with top women boxers and MMA fighters to get their perspective on the challenges that await both McGregor and Mayweather when they step into the ring on Aug. 26.
Claressa Shields: You know, I've always been a Floyd Mayweather fan. And I still am. However, this [upcoming] fight has made me a fan of McGregor as well. I don't know how he got into boxing. He should totally be a comedian. McGregor is just so ruthless and reckless. It's something that we've never seen before. Has there been this much trash-talking in boxing, ever?
CS: I'm going with Mayweather all the way. The only chance McGregor has is if he lands a lucky punch in the first two rounds, which might make Mayweather change up his whole game plan. But, other than that. I just don't think McGregor has a chance.
espnW: What will McGregor bring to the table that Mayweather won't be prepared for?
Michelle Waterson: I feel like a lot of MMA fighters have really creative footwork that is not as traditional as boxing footwork, so that might be something different that Mayweather has never really dealt with. It's such a different movement, a different style, a different pace. It's kind of like when you have a dance partner who's on a different rhythm than you are. It throws you off of your rhythm.
MW: I would love for McGregor to win. It would turn the world upside down if he did. But you know, it is Mayweather's world in the boxing ring. I wouldn't put it past McGregor to win though. On any given day, anyone can get rocked.
Heather Hardy: You're used to fighting a certain way and using things in your toolbox when you get into trouble, but [McGregor] is having many of his taken away. He can't kick, he can't take it to the ground -- all those things go out the window. And you're competing at the highest boxing level possible. It's impossible. It would be like [if I had made] my MMA debut against Amanda Nunes and expected to beat her. That's a little silly.
espnW: How might Mayweather be surprised in facing such an accomplished mixed martial artist?
HH: This is a guy who gets kicked in the face all the time, and gets punched with little four-ounce gloves. You go from getting hit by those gloves to big, padded boxing gloves and it's like a joke. If Floyd gets a stoppage or a knockout it will be because of unanswered punches or frustration. He's not going to put this guy on the canvas.
espnW: What is the biggest challenge McGregor faces in transitioning from the Octagon to the boxing ring?
Joanna Jedrzejczyk: It's not easy to make the transition from MMA to boxing. Boxing is a part of boxing, but we don't do this 24 hours a day. If there is someone who can do this, it is Conor McGregor.
JJ: He's one of the greatest in MMA. People can say whatever they want, but he's beaten the best fighters in his division. He has done so much for MMA. He's the man who can do this.
JJ: Conor McGregor will win this fight, and I think he will do it in the fourth round.