On Saturday night, whilst in attendance at his countryman Michael Conlan’s professional debut inside the Theater at Madison Square Garden, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor assured members of the boxing media seated at ringside that he is going to “shock the whole goddamn world” if and, seemingly, when he faces Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Look me in the eyes, 28 years of age, confident as a m—- f—– long, rangy, dangerous with every hand,” added the motor-mouthed Irishman with conviction. “Trust me, I’m going to stop Floyd and you’re all going to eat your words. The whole world is going to eat their words.”
Ever since this fight was first mooted, anyone who has even attempted to make the argument that McGregor has a chance of beating Mayweather has touted the MMA star’s punching power, more specifically that which he possesses in his famous left hand. Members of McGregor’s team, like striking coach Owen Roddy, who told Newstalk that “it doesn’t matter who it is, if that left hand lands on your chin you’re going to sleep”, have regularly done so and oh so many talking heads on mainstream sports shows have chattered about Conor’s supposed “puncher’s chance”.
Even Mayweather himself has given McGregor props for his pop.
“The UFC gloves are no different from boxing gloves, they’re just a little bit smaller, but if a guy got power, he got power and Conor McGregor got power,” the former pound for pound king of boxing said during an interview with Showtime.
With his claim that he is going to “stop” Mayweather, McGregor continued to further this narrative – he is a danger, despite his lack of pro boxing experience, because he is a ferocious puncher.
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Ariel Helwani was joined via the magic of Skype by Joseph Duffy. Duffy’s combat sports resume makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the Mayweather/McGregor fight. The talented lightweight, who picked up an impressive win over Reza Madadi in London on Saturday night to see out his UFC contract, knows McGregor well, having beaten ‘The Notorious’ one via submission in 2010, and he also made the transition from MMA to boxing himself back in 2013. ‘Irish Joe’ compiled a 7-0 record, before returning to MMA the following year.
Helwani couldn’t let Duffy go then without asking for his thoughts.
While the 29-year-old agreed that McGregor has something of a puncher’s chance, he doesn’t seem to be buying in to the notion that his former foe is a huge puncher in a boxing context and he suggested that Mayweather has fought men with heavier hands in the past.
“I think in a combat sport, there is always a puncher’s chance – no matter what. In MMA or boxing, there is always that puncher’s chance,” said Duffy. “I think Floyd is used to being in there with bigger hitters than Conor. Them boxers really do hit.”
“On the scorecards, I really don’t [give Conor a chance]. I really feel it’s a landslide towards Floyd. He is one of the best of all-time. How he made [Manny] Pacquiao look, and Pacquiao’s one of the best boxers we have seen in a long time, I think that just proves the level he’s at. [Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez] is probably a bigger hitter than Conor and how he boxed him…it’s different. It’s different. It takes a while to get into the sport and get up to a par. I think if he pursued boxing for a long time, I think he would have done very well in it, definitely. But Floyd has been doing this since he was a child and I really can’t see it going any other way.”
It certainly is difficult to gauge just how hard McGregor hits compared to some of the men that Mayweather has already fought, given the fact that MMA gloves weigh four ounces and professional boxing gloves are eight-ten ounces in weight. But a more important point in this whole conversation is that the money loving Mayweather’s defensive mastery means few meaty shots have ever landed on his chin and a novice boxer like McGregor stands very little chance of finding the elusive target.
On Saturday night, McGregor told Lance Pugmire of the L.A Times that a September date looks most likely for the fight, echoing a previous statement that he had made on the subject. However, Mayweather continues to say that he wants the fight to take place in June.
The bout, which once looked so improbable, is beginning to look more and more likely, but there are obviously still a number of things to work out before the gifted pair put pens to paper.