In Brief

Why is Mayweather playing the underdog against McGregor?

Boxing legend talks down his chances against Irish mixed martial artist after sluggish ticket sales

Floyd Mayweather has given an uncharacteristically downbeat assessment of his prospects ahead of his fight with Conor McGregor later this month.

The undefeated 40-year-old boxer, who has come out of retirement to take on the Irish mixed martial artist, said his age had been catching up with him in training. He even suggested that McGregor was the favourite.

Mayweather told ESPN:"He's a lot younger. When you look at myself and Conor McGregor on paper, he's taller, has a longer reach, he's a bigger man from top to bottom.

"I'm not the same fighter I was two years ago. I'm not the same fighter I was five years ago. I lost a step."

The comments are in stark contrast to the noises Mayweather made during the pair's world tour last month when they exchanged insults in cities from Los Angeles to London, and he promised to beat McGregor easily.

But is Mayweather's humility genuine?

"Few believe that McGregor can beat one of the greatest boxers of all time, and there have been reports that tickets sales for the fight have been slow," says The Guardian."So perhaps it was with half an eye on his bank account that Mayweather said he believes his opponent has the edge on paper."

The Guardian doesn't agree with Mayweather's analysis. "It's conceivable that McGregor, fighting against possibly the greatest defensive boxer of all time, could fail to land any significant blows on the American when they meet in Las Vegas," it says.

Adding further credence to the idea that Mayweather is attempting to drum up interest in the fight are his promises of a more attacking approach.

"The American boxing legend has promised an entertaining fight, having learnt from his underwhelming performance in the victory over Manny Pacquiao [in 2015]," says the Daily Mail.

Earlier this week the LA Times reported that as many as 7,000 tickets were still available for the fight at the Staples Center, which holds just over 20,000 people.

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