While there remains no official date for Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather, that doesn’t mean the UFC champion can’t begin preparations for what would likely be the greatest challenge of his combat sports career.
According to SBG Ireland head trainer John Kavanagh, McGregor is already training like the fight is a done deal.
“In my mind, it’s on. That’s the mentality we’re in,” Kavanagh told Fox Sports Australia. “There’s a lot of fingers in the pie with this one — there’s different promotions, different organizations, there’s different commissions that are involved.
“But as far as I’m concerned, I’m really convinced it’s going to happen this year and that’s the mindset that I have. Let the people in the suits worry about the paperwork, we’re training for it.”
Last month, Mayweather officially ended his retirement to pursue a bout with McGregor. The “Notorious” one, meanwhile, began calling out the undefeated boxer in earnest following his victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 this past November.
McGregor is still under UFC contract, which is one of the major hurdles to which Kavanagh refers. The reigning lightweight king is also awaiting the birth of his first child, so it is unlikely the fight would take place until the second half of 2017 at the earliest. There have been multiple rumors that the matchup will go down in September at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Regardless of the timeframe, it appears that the McGregor camp is already taking steps to specialize his training because the bout with Mayweather would be contested under boxing rules.
“I said a quote but I was kind of taken out of context; I said it would be simpler training for boxing. But what I mean is that boxing is one of the 10 skills you need for mixed martial arts,” Kavanagh said. “But now we’re only doing boxing, so we can drop wrestling and jiu-jitsu and Thai boxing. We can just focus on the boxing.
“So of course we’re getting ready to fight one of the best defensive boxers of all time, but the training will become simplified because we only have to do boxing,” he added. “It’s a new challenge, I’m excited about it.”
Kavanagh said the bout would likely take place at 147 pounds. While McGregor began his UFC tenure at 145 pounds, he hasn’t fought at the weight class since December 2015. Last year he fought Nate Diaz twice at 170 pounds and Alvarez at 155. According to Kavanagh, both the fighter and the coach are looking forward to the challenge of toppling Mayweather.
“When he brought this challenge to me, I kind of had to shake my head and smile,” Kavanagh said. “He’s done so well in mixed martial arts but that’s being Conor. Also the mentality around, ‘You can’t do that’. We grew up hearing that: ‘You can’t be in Ireland and a get a fighter to the UFC level’. ‘You can’t fight for a UFC belt without having a wrestling background.’ “We just hear that all the time. But you now what, we keep doing it, we keep proving people wrong. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”