To any fan of boxing, it is almost incomprehensible that someone who has never laced up a pair of boxing gloves professionally should ever be in the ring with Floyd Mayweather, let alone beat him.
This is not a swipe at Conor McGregor’s ability - it’s just sheer fact.
Love him or hate him - and I have a tendency to favour the latter - the unbeaten American has a perfect 49-0 record, has collected world titles in five separate weight classes and has beaten his peers with ease - all the while accumulating little physical damage over his time at the top of the game.
Of course, he has carefully navigated his own career ever since he bought himself out of his contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank in 2006.
Kosta Tszyu and Antonio Margarito were avoided at all costs while bouts with Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao which should have happened around 2010, were postponed until both had aged and taken further damage, in 2012 and 2015 respectively.
Juan Manuel Marquez was made jump up two weight classes to welterweight while Saul Alvarez was forced to cut an extra two pounds to 152lbs, for their light-middleweight bout in 2013.
Mayweather has stacked the deck in his favour in every fight ever since he was pushed to the brink by Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. De La Hoya forced Mayweather onto the back foot with his jab while he hooked to the body and face repeatedly.
However, he tired down the stretch and Mayweather eked out a razor-thin split decision. Mayweather never took up the option to rematch De La Hoya. He knew “The Golden Boy” had the blueprint to beat him and he would never stand opposite him again.
That fact is only amplified by Mayweather’s willingness to indulge in immediate rematches with Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidaina when they both gave the American a decent run for his money, although he was never in danger of losing against either.
Mayweather is quite simply a master defensive boxer who utilises a shoulder-roll technique to deflect on-coming punches, lands his own straight-right shot and pivots away.
He has been primarily a “point-fighter” for the last decade with his last legitimate stoppage win coming against Ricky Hatton in 2007.
He has controlled the pace of almost every fight he has ever fought. His jab is superb and often, he will land it on the way in and tie up his opponent to avoid retribution. This technique can infuriate opponents who then charge at him and play right into his hands.
For McGregor’s part, to have even gotten himself to this point is remarkable. This fight was almost inconceivable when it was mooted a couple of years ago. Yet, here we are.
With all his energy focused on boxing, his team claim he has come on leaps and bounds. That should be worrying. Not because he has improved so much but rather where he was coming from. Anyone who viewed the footage of him sparring with Chris Van Heerdren last year saw Dubliner regularly get caught with jabs and hooks throughout their spar. The South African is no Mayweather.
What McGregor does bring to the table is an unpredictability which might take Mayweather a couple of rounds to gauge.
Mcgregor controls distance with his lead hand constantly acting as a shield - a Karate technique which is rarely seen in boxing. He also circles opponents away from his power left hand which goes against every rule of conventional boxing as well.
While the Irishman has age, height and reach in his favour - Mayweather is a young 40, in boxing terms. His risk-averse style and willingness to fight only twice a year in recent times indicates he will be as fresh as at any time over the last decade when he steps into the ring this weekend.
The Dubliner’s best hope might be to stand in the centre of the ring and force the referee to make Mayweather engage. Whoever holds the centre is generally considered on the front-foot. If he chases Mayweather around, it could be a long night for the Irishman.
Mayweather is the matador and McGregor is the bull. But, every now and then, the bull wins.