After months of hype and profanity Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor take their war of words into the ring on Saturday for a boxing mismatch that is poised to become the richest fight in history.From motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel to off-the-wall comedian Carrot Top, the Las Vegas strip has seen it all, but nothing quite like the crossover fight between undefeated boxer Mayweather and mixed martial arts champion McGregor.Boxing purists have dismissed the bout as nothing more than a cash grab with McGregor in line for a $100 million pay day and Mayweather adding upwards of $200 million to push his career earnings towards the $1 billion mark.Despite what is by most barometers a massive mismatch there is global fascination in the fight that could prove to be the richest in boxing history.Promoters have sold the bout as “historical,” a fight that will be talked about around the world for years to come and many intrigued fight fans have bought into the hype.A crowd of close to 20,000 is expected to fill the T-Mobile Arena, where ringside seats on resale sites are being offered for more than $100,000, with millions more around the globe watching on pay-per-view.There will be no titles on the line, only a gaudy “Money Belt” with a strap made from crocodile leather and featuring 24 karat gold, 3,360 diamonds along with sapphires and emeralds, but much will be riding on the result.For Mayweather it will be the culmination of a life’s work, a chance to surpass former heavyweight great Rocky Marciano, who retired with a perfect 49-0 career record.advertisementFor McGregor, a victory would give him the greatest upset in combat sports history and establish him as a crossover star able to choose big money fights in both the octagon and the ring.The brash, charismatic Irishman, also known as ‘Mystic Mac’ for accurately predicting the outcome of his fights, has gazed into his crystal ball and says he will knock out the 40-year-old American inside two rounds of the scheduled 12-round bout.Mayweather, a 12-times world champion over five weight divisions who traditionally fights defensive battles, is also calling for a knockout, something he has not done since stopping Victor Ortiz nearly six years ago.”I’ve said it’s not going the distance and you can mark my words,” said Mayweather. “I know that I’m in for a tough fight but there is one thing I do know, this fight is not going the distance.”McGregor, who was on social welfare from the Irish government as recently as four years ago, is the blue collar populist champion but the bulk of the money being wagered is all in Mayweather’s corner.Smaller bets are going on McGregor with UFC fans backing up their loyalty with their wallets. But the Las Vegas smart money is all streaming towards Mayweather with reports of several $1 million bets being laid on the ‘Money Man.’So sure is Irish bookmaker Paddy Power of the outcome that they have already paid out on a Mayweather victory.As far as McGregor is concerned, anyone betting against him should take their money onto the Strip and set it on fire.”I will go forward and put the pressure on and break this old man,” said McGregor. “I don’t see him lasting two rounds, I feel I will have the decision to end it inside one.”He’s a beaten man. He will not be able to take the ferociousness that I come with.”Aside from McGregor’s cocky assurances there is little in the tale of the tape to tip an upset.Mayweather, who will bring a 49-0 record into the ring, is already recognised as one of the greatest fighters of all-time, a brilliant defensive tactician and counter puncher who has ruled the ring for 21 years.In the other corner stands hard-hitting McGregor, a two-time world champion in the octagon making his professional boxing debut who will try to do what a long list of great fighters have been unable to do — stop Mayweather.McGregor’s potential to register the biggest upset in boxing history rests largely with the intangibles.As aggressive in the ring as he is outside it, the 29-year-old Irishman will have youth and power on his side.A fearless and vicious fighter taking on an ageing boxer who hasn’t fought in almost two years, McGregor’s best shot at a victory will be connecting with a thundering left hand like the one that dropped Jose Aldo 13 seconds into their UFC featherweight championship fight.advertisement”Everyone knows I can fight. I can give it and I can take,” said Mayweather. “After 21 years I’ve been hit with everything and I’m still right here.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is all set to be back in action in four days time when India play their opening game of the Asia Cup against Hong Kong next Tuesday.Dhoni will be key to the Rohit Sharma-led India side in UAE not only for his experience but also for his batting, which has drawn some serious criticism lately.With Virat Kohli taking a rest, India’s batting will heavily depend on the openers and Dhoni in a middle-order, that keeps on shuffling. But, that being said, it gives Dhoni the chance to do something that not only he but everyone in the country perhaps feel should be done — bat at No.4.Much like KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni will have a lot to prove to people, who have raised questions about his strike rate and finishing abilities during the limited-overs series in England.Dhoni’s slow batting led to boos from the stands in Lord’s as India failed to chase down England’s set target of 323 in the second ODI. India were already behind the asking rate when Dhoni walked in to bat at the fall of Virat Kohli’s wicket and his approach thereafter was baffling: Dhoni scored 37 off 59 balls and hit only two boundaries.Also read – MS Dhoni booed at Lord’s, Virat Kohli defends former captainAt the end, when Lord’s did reverberate with applause, it was because Dhoni was dismissed by Liam Plunkett in the 47th over of the Indian innings.In the next ODI as well, Dhoni got runs but failed to hit the ground running, therefore, disappointing the fans. Dhoni managed to score only 79 runs from 125 balls in two innings against England and he was heavily criticised by pundits as well.advertisement”If Dhoni has got to play (in the 2019 World Cup), then he has got to get in a position where he keeps hitting. If it is 24-25 overs and he has got to build an innings, he is struggling at the moment.Also read – MS Dhoni reveals why he stepped down as India captain”He may turn it around as he has been a great player for India but at the present he is not turning it around enough and this has been going on for more than an year,” Ganguly said after the second ODI at Lord’s. MS Dhoni was booed at Lord’s for his slow batting in the 2nd ODI against England (AP Photo)The boos were an unusual sight for a player, who has only been loved wherever he has gone. Dhoni’s failure in England was baffling to many because the World Cup-winning captain was coming off a brilliant Indian Premier League, where he led the returning Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL crown just a month ago.Also read – Pant ideal replacement for Dhoni but after 2019 World Cup, feels Virender SehwagDhoni scored 455 runs from 18 matches at an average of 40.16 and a strike-rate of 138.19. Mahi smashed 24 boundaries and 30 maximums in the 11th edition of the IPL.What worked for Dhoni was that he came to bat at No.4 and it gave him time to settle in and take on the bowlers later on. Dhoni’s fearless hitting gave fans enough hope going into the England series and the World Cup ahead, that the good-old hard-hitting Dhoni is back but a month later…he was nowhere to be found.The most obvious reason one could say behind Dhoni’s failure in England would be the fact that he came to bat down the order and had less balls to face. And this is where the Asia Cup could change things for the wicket-keeper batsman.Also read – Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and 7 other Team India members depart early for Asia CupWith Kohli not being present at No.3, Dhoni has the chance to come up the order and play the anchor’s role before taking on the bowlers towards the end of the innings. With conditions conducive to spin bowling, he will have the chance to get his eye in and then attack the faster bowlers towards the end.Yes! Dhoni has struggled against the wrist-spinners lately but his experience remains and some lusty blows from the meat of the bat will do him great good in terms of confidence.WATCH – Rohit Sharma & Co. depart for Asia Cup 2018Dhoni’s role in the batting order will be very important to India’s chances in the Asia Cup. With Kohli not being there, teams will fancy their chances against a shaky middle-order and this is where, Dhoni’s experience and ability will be really helpful for Rohit and the team.advertisementAlso, a great run at No.4 at the Asia Cup, followed by some good innings against West Indies and Australia later in the year, can well give India the answer to their middle-order woes going into the World Cup in England and Wales in June, 2019.