In an interview on Australian television last week, SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh revealed that his most famous student UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has already started training for a possible boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“In my mind, it’s on,” Kavanagh told Fox Sports Australia. “That’s the mentality we’re in. Like you said, there’s a lot of fingers in the pie on this one. There’s different promotions, different organizations, different commissions that are involved but as far as I’m concerned, I really believe it’s going to happen this year. That’s the mindset I have.”
“Let the people in the suits worry about the paperwork. We’re training for it.”
During a Q&A at the Star Casino in Sydney on Friday, Kavanagh went into greater detail about the preparatory steps that the team is taking at present and what they plan to do in camp going forward.
“It’s happening, 100 per cent,” the Dublin coach said of the fight, reiterating earlier claims. “Before I came out here I had a sit down with Conor and we (put in place) a training plan. Right now he’s doing base level cardio training so that when I get back we can go into specific training(via News.com.au).”
According to Kavanagh, that specific training will take place at a facility on the same Naas Road industrial estate where his famed SBG Concorde gym currently sits.
“We have a ‘secret dojo’ set up with a championship-level boxing ring that will exactly mirror the situation when it happens,” he said. “Where my gym is, the guy who owns my gym, owns the entire estate, and there’s a building — I’m kinda giving away a secret here — there’s a building at the back and he’s just going to give it to me until the fight is on. So we’re getting that kitted out.”
A couple of weeks ago, McGregor posted a picture to Instagram in which he, Kavanagh and training partner Charlie Ward posed in a large, bare warehouse-type facility.
“Something BIG is coming with SBG Concorde! Stay ready because we never rest!” read the caption.
In light of what Kavanagh revealed at the Sydney Q&A, it wouldn’t be overly speculative to suggest that this is the site of the so-called “secret dojo”.
“We’re going to make it into kind of a stadium with a full-sized boxing ring,” Kavanagh said of their plans for the facility. “We’ll have weekly or biweekly sparring sessions where we invite people in to make it feel like a fight and bring in different sparring partners.”
Regardless of what kind of approach McGregor adopts in training, few will be giving the Irishman any chance of causing an upset. He might be one of the most adroit boxers in the sport of MMA, but ‘The Notorious’ lacks any professional boxing experience.
And in Mayweather, the novice will be facing the greatest boxer of a generation. A man who compiled a sparkling record of 49-0 between his pro debut in 1996 and his supposed retirement in September of 2015. A man who has accounted for the likes of Marcos Maidana, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Diego Corrales, Ricky Hatton, Jose Luis Castillo, Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. A man whose former nickname ‘Pretty Boy’ is no less apt now at the age of 40 than it was when he was in his 20’s, due to the fact that he has taken so few shots throughout is storied career.
Yet, Kavanagh still has faith.
“I’ve studied Mayweather, I find this ‘Philly shell’ fascinating, how he’s able to keep himself safe — but everyone can be beat,” said the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
“He’s had trouble in the past with southpaws. Pacquiao got some good shots off on him. There were moments in that fight where Pacquiao could have done some things a little different. The way he was able to tie Pacquiao up on the inside — he’s not going to do that to us. If he tries to tie us up in the clinch, that’s not going to work.”
“And he (McGregor) has the death touch. If that lands, I don’t care if you’re Mayweather, Juneweather, Julyweather … you’re still going to go down.”