Floyd Mayweather has done most of the talking of late, in hyping up a megafight with Conor McGregor that now seems all but certain to happen, but the latter had plenty to say Friday. In vehement comments made at Madison Square Garden, where another Irishman scored a win in the ring on St. Patrick’s Day, McGregor vowed to “take over boxing” and “stop Floyd.”
McGregor was acting as a prominent entourage member of Michael Conlan, who was making his professional debut after suffering a controversial loss at the Rio Olympics, one that led to him speaking bitterly about corruption in amateur boxing and accusing Vladimir Putin of engineering his defeat to a Russian opponent. Leaving the ring after Conlan’s knockout victory, McGregor directed his attention at ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who had earlier introduced himself to the UFC champion as “the boxing guy,” meaning that he didn’t cover MMA.
“I’m the boxing guy!” McGregor yelled at Rafael. “Watch me take over boxing, trust me on that. No one in this boxing game knows what’s coming. Trust me on that. I’m going to step in there and shock the whole [expletive] world. Trust me on that.
“Look me in the eyes, 28 years of age, confident as a [expletive], long, rangy, dangerous with every hand,” McGregor continued. “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.”
When asked when that was going to happen, McGregor replied, “It’s getting close. Don’t worry about it. You’ll hear about it.” Here is video (warning: profanity):
McGregor’s comments served as a further indication that an official announcement of his fight with Mayweather could happen at any moment. Earlier in the week, UFC president Dana White, who had long expressed near-certainty that the fight would not happen, sharply changed his tune.
“I do think it’s going to happen,” White said on Conan O’Brien’s talk show. “I think it’s going to be a tough deal, because obviously a lot of egos involved in this deal and a lot of people, so that always makes it tougher. But on the flip side, there’s so much money involved, I just don’t see how it doesn’t happen.”
Mayweather must feel that there is a huge amount of money to be made taking on McGregor, because he has said that he wouldn’t come out of retirement for less than $100 million. “I don’t want to hear no more excuses about the money, about the UFC,” Mayweather said in comments last week directed at McGregor. “Sign the paper with the UFC so you can fight me in June.”
If the fight does take place, it’s not likely to take place in June, but rather later in the year, possibly September. McGregor has been on leave from the UFC since defeating Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title in November, and he has been laying low, particularly by his loquacious standards, while waiting for his girlfriend to give birth to their first child, which is expected to happen in May.
McGregor has been stepping up his boxing training, although he has already been installed as a huge underdog. While Mayweather is 40, making him 12 years older than his proposed opponent, he is widely regarded as one of the best boxers ever and arguably its greatest defensive stylist. He went into retirement with a 49-0 record, and he likely would not be putting that undefeated mark on the line if he were not very confident of beating McGregor, who would be in his first boxing-only match.
Still, McGregor has earned a reputation as one of MMA’s best strikers, and he would certainly have more than a proverbial puncher’s chance. He would also have boundless bravado, which was on display once again Friday night, as was his patriotic pride on a very special day for the Irish.
Here is video of Conlan’s debut win, which came against Denver’s Tim Ibarra (4-5).