Conor McGregor was issued a license to box professionally in California, fueling more talk of a possible showdown with Floyd Mayweather. The UFC lightweight champion reportedly plans on applying for boxing licenses in other states, as well.
Multiple media sites confirmed that the license was granted Wednesday, a move which comes after months of verbal back-and-forth between McGregor and Mayweather. Many obstacles to a fight still remain, of course, including Mayweather coming out of retirement and the UFC, to which McGregor is under contract, agreeing to such a match, but the latest development represents the first concrete step toward making it happen. According to Fox Sports, McGregor also plans on applying for licenses in states such as New York, Nevada and Texas.
In addition, Wednesday saw the U.K. newspaper The Sun publish quotes from John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, who offered these thoughts on a potential fight with Mayweather: “If the odds were good enough, I’d put a few quid on it for next year.
“I’m not breaking any news saying that there’s conversations going back and forth for the last year or so. … Is it getting any closer? I don’t know, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me that it’s going to happen.”
After a busy — and very profitable — 2016 in which McGregor split two matches with Nate Diaz and defeated Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight crown, he’s taking a few months off, so we won’t be seeing McGregor fight anyone for a while. But he has frequently expressed an eagerness to take on Mayweather, most recently at a New York nightclub shortly after the Alvarez fight.
“He wants it under boxing rules. He wants a boxing match. He doesn’t want a fight,” McGregor said of Mayweather. “Tell Floyd and Showtime, I’m coming. … I want $100 million cash to fight him under boxing rules because he’s afraid of a real fight.”
Mayweather has also done his part to fan the flames of a possible fight with the Irishman, calling it “possible” earlier in the year and posting a faux-promotional poster on social media. His company, Mayweather Promotions, also raised eyebrows in May when it filed for trademarks on the phrases “TMT 50″ and “TBE 50.” Those refer to the phrases “The Money team” and “The best ever,” as well as to the fact that Mayweather retired last year with a 49-0 record, so another win would bring him to 50.
However, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe, threw cold water on the matchup Wednesday, saying of McGregor’s boxing license to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, “It’s all a game. It’s all a calculated effort to gain more fans.”
“Conor McGregor can say anything he wants to but he has a boss and his name is [UFC president] Dana White. He is under contract to the UFC and if he wanted to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match he can’t, because his bosses wouldn’t allow that to happen,” Ellerbe added. “The brass [from WME-IMG] who recently purchased the UFC [for $4 billion earlier this year] are very smart people and they would never — and put this in bold caps — let him step into a boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather because everyone knows what the outcome would be. He would get his a– beat from pillar to post.”
Ellerbe may well be correct, and McGregor, who is well aware of his value to the UFC as far and away its biggest draw at the moment (give or take a successful comeback by Ronda Rousey), could simply be using the threat of a boxing sideline as leverage against the MMA company. However, until now, it’s been all talk between him and Mayweather, and Wednesday brought an intriguing piece of action.