Like so many others, Freddie Roach was deeply skeptical about all the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather talk when it first began in the spring of last year and for months thereafter.
In fact, during an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the celebrated boxing coach admitted that he once thought it would be impossible to bring the pair together inside the squared circle.
However, like so many others, Roach’s stance has swayed.
Some of the skeptics were just sucked in over time by the magnetism of the continuing saga, while many were influenced by the determination evident in McGregor’s voice when the Irishman told Ariel Helwani last month that he intended to pursue the fight with real purpose.
For Freddie it was neither of those things. Instead, it seems as though a conversation with Floyd some months ago was responsible for changing his outlook.
“Floyd actually came to my gym and told me, ‘Freddie, I hear that Conor has talked to you,’ and I said, ‘No, he never has.’ But [Mayweather] said, ‘If he reaches out and wants you to train him, I would take that job because I am going to fight him and we can all make a lot of money.'” Roach told Helwani.
“He told me he would fight him. Everything is pointing in that direction,” Roach added. “It looks like it’s going to happen.”
“He told me that he is retired and he is not going to fight again, but he said that if Conor McGregor comes to the table, he said, ‘That one I will fight.'”
Though most of Roach’s boxing brethren have completely dismissed the idea that McGregor can pose a real threat to Mayweather under boxing rules, the 56-year-old former fighter is reluctant to do so because of the unpredictable nature of combat sports and ‘The Notorious’ one’s fearlessness.
“I think he would have his hands full with a boxer like Floyd,” Roach said. “[McGregor] is a pretty good striker and, you know, the thing is Floyd is a great boxer – he is really good at hitting and not getting hit – and I think it would take a long time for Conor to get ready for a boxing match, a pure boxing match. But one punch can change everything in the sports we’re in, so I’m not going to count him out completely. Mayweather is the favourite, yes, but I would never count anyone out because [McGregor] throws, he throws hard, and he’s not afraid to throw. I like that about him.”
“When that bell rings, he better be ready, though, because the thing is he is fighting one of the best boxers of his era.”
Asked if he would have any interest in helping to prepare McGregor for that moment, Roach answered in the affirmative.
“I’d like to help him get ready, that would be an honour for me.”
Roach is a busy man, however. His most famous student Manny Pacquiao is expected to fight in the coming months and the Massachusetts native will also be working with Georges St-Pierre ahead of the Canadian great’s return to the UFC.
It might be tough to fit McGregor in. But we get the feeling that he would find a way.
Make no mistake, though, in spite of Roach’s newfound confidence, this fight is still a long way off. When he spoke to entertainment media outlet TMZ recently, McGregor claimed that Floyd is “petrified” and accused the former pound for pound king of dodging talks.
We know that McGregor has met with members of the Nevada Athletic Commission and former UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta on separate occasions since travelling stateside last week. But it certainly doesn’t sound like he has had the pleasure of meeting Mayweather just yet.
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