FLOYD MAYWEATHER knew a long, long time ago that he would defeat Conor McGregor and tonight, at the T-Mobile Arena, he was proved right. The contest was better than many expected but only Mayweather will know for sure why it lasted until the 10th round when referee Robert Byrd rescued the exhausted debutant.

Perhaps it took him that long to figure out McGregor who, moments after the opening bell, resembled the novice that he is as he went straight at his opponent square on. But the Irishman deserves immense credit for his fighting spirit, for surpassing almost all expectation – and landing several shots on the American – a left upercut in particular was impressive.

Mayweather walked through plenty of shots with a smile on his face. At times he winked to the crowd. Even though he was losing the fight after three rounds, there was never a hint of concern in the American.

In the fourth and fifth he opened up a little bit, landing almost at will. With McGregor there for taking – or so it seemed – Floyd would go back in his shell.

Many observers have already suggested Mayweather was carrying his opponent and for large periods, as the favourite allowed himself to be punched and prodded, it looked like exactly that. Some have gone further and suggested that Mayweather intended to win in the 10th round all along. Again, given the way he opened up in the ninth to set up the 10th round finish, such views are perfectly understandable.

The truth maybe that Mayweather merely waited for his moment to attack when he knew for certain that McGregor would not be able to survive an onslaught, and that the Irishman was better than he thought.

While we must give McGregor all the credit in the world for his gutsy showing, Mayweather fought in a manner that we have never seen him fight before. Carefree yet contemptuous, Floyd – one of the greatest defensive fighters in boxing history – was rarely concerned about getting hit. If he fought like that the night he beat Manny Pacquiao, he would have been slaughtered. And that’s not a suggestion that Mayweather is shot – though he’s slowed down, for sure – it’s an observation that had a contender or champion been in the opposite corner, or anyone other than a debutant whose skills he did not respect, Mayweather would have fought very differently indeed.