If you’ve ever doubted the bravery of Conor McGregor, just take into account the fact that he is now about to make his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather, a man who’s professional record stands at 49-0 and many regard as the finest boxer as his generation. The question on everybody’s lips however is this – how good is Conor McGregor’s boxing?
McGregor is the first man to ever hold two UFC belts simultaneously, and that can largely be accredited to his straight left hand from the southpaw stance. However, McGregor left the sport of boxing as a teenager, with many critics now closely examining whether the Dublin fighter has profited from facing a string of grapplers who lack the necessary skills with their hands.
Paschal Collins – an Irish professional boxing trainer, told Sky Sports that he remembers an unknown MMA enthusiast who was at home in the boxing gym.
“Four years ago, I always reckoned that he could have gone all the way in boxing for the reason that his work ethic is unbelievable. You know when somebody walks into a room and stands out. I would watch him for an hour and he’d practice the same move over and over. He’s brave, he’s got a heart, and he’s afraid of nobody.”
McGregor first plied his trade at the Crumlin Boxing Club, and coach Philip Sutcliffe is another who remembers an incredible young talent.
“He was like any other novice who we taught the basics to. He could have been very good if he stayed with boxing. Some kids had more talent than Conor but didn’t work as hard and eventually he found them out.”
“He can box orthodox or southpaw. His straight left changes fights. It’s an opportunist’s punch – he’s always had the ability to turn on his back leg to throw his back hand.”
When McGregor burst onto the UFC scene in 2013, it was the same skills that impressed Sutcliffe that proved the difference, as three uppercuts called lights out for Marcus Brimage. His understanding of range astonished fans and fellow fighters alike, and the same left hand knocked Eddie Alvarez last November to make him a two-weight world champion.
Trainer John Kavanagh is adamant that a Southpaw’s best weapon is his straight left, and for whatever reason, nobody hits harder than Conor.
World boxing champion George Groves has also had his say, admitting he has been impressed by McGregor, but noted a crucial difference in his style.
“They can get away with things that we can’t in boxing – for example they attack from so far out. Do that in boxing and a skilful boxer would time you. In UFC – they don’t throw combinations. If you’re a pure boxer. you won’t last long inside the cage – and vice versa.”
McGregor’s defeat to Nate Diaz led to criticism of his boxing finesse from his own striking coach, Owen Roddy, and ever since that fight, The Notorious’ presence at California boxing gyms has not gone unnoticed by the press.
With an ever-improving and fearless Conor McGregor entering a ring with a 40-year old fighter who has been out of the ring since 2015 – perhaps the world of boxing could be in for it’s greatest shock yet.
It only takes one punch to change history.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena.