It has been just over two weeks since UFC superstar Conor McGregor signed the dotted line to fight boxer Floyd Mayweather, yet no movement has been made on the side of “Money” in negotiations with UFC. Not to worry. According to Conor McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, the superfight will definitely happen.
Here is what Kavanagh had to say about McGregor vs. Mayweather in a recent interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto:
Okamoto: As far as you are aware, what is the latest in terms of making this fight a reality?
Kavanagh: The first big hurdle was jumped over, which was Conor and the UFC coming to their agreement. When that happened, it became a lot more real to me. I was enjoying the buildup, the talk, the idea of it. But it wasn’t until Conor messaged me and said, ‘It’s done, I’ve signed,’ that I was like, ‘Oh, OK. We actually are boxing.’
Now, Mayweather is dragging his heels a little bit, I guess. It’s been over a week since Conor made his public announcement. I’m not quite sure what the delay is. Mayweather seemed anxious to do it in June. Obviously, that date is kind of gone. There’s a September date that’s been talked about. I don’t know why he hasn’t signed yet. Maybe there are negotiations to do on his end.
Okamoto: But to be clear, you sound 100 percent confident the fight is happening?
Kavanagh: Absolutely. And that has been part of our mentality. The Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao fight [in 2015], I believe the fight was weeks away and things still weren’t 100 percent. It’s a weird industry, the boxing world. I’m beginning to learn more about it. It’s a lot less straightforward than the MMA world.
There could still be negotiations going on four weeks out, but the big mistake would be to mentally put off the heavy training until every detail is agreed upon. We are training now. We’re ready for that date in the fall, whenever that might be. We’ll let the lawyers and suits deal with the nuances of who gets this and who gets that. Conor is a fighter. I am his coach. We’ll focus on the contest at hand.
Kavanagh will be given the task of coaching McGregor up and preparing him for a battle outside of the cage. Luckily for McGregor, Kavanagh already has a plan in motion:
Okamoto: What do those preparations look like? A UFC champion, preparing for his first professional boxing match against the best boxer in the world?
Kavanagh: I have a pretty good idea on how I see the fight going. Over the next three to four months, we need to put that plan into action. Drill it. See how it works in the gym. Mix and match the plan until we have it right for the night of the fight.
I will say this: Mayweather has proven himself to be perfect against guys who have trained purely in boxing. I was asked very early on, ‘Are you going to bring in Freddie Roach? He’s the greatest boxing trainer in the world right now.’
OK. I’m an evidence-based guy. I don’t make decision based on emotions. Has Freddie trained somebody to fight Mayweather before? Yes. And a southpaw. A hard-hitting southpaw! And the plan didn’t work. I don’t see a point in doing the exact same thing.
Obviously, Freddie Roach is incredible. I’ve been trying to immerse myself in the boxing world, and Freddie has been called one of the last great guys to understand it all — trainer, cutman, psychologist to the young fighters, technician — but he did come up short in his approach to Mayweather. So, we can’t follow the same formula.
While McGregor would have an immediate edge inside of the Octagon, he will have to abide by the rules of boxing to defeat Mayweather. In order to come to terms with “Money,” things like weight, ring size, glove size, number of rounds, and judges will have to be worked out. But if it was up to Kavanagh, there would at least be a MMA referee at the helm.
Okamoto: How important will the negotiations be when it comes to things like referee, judges, ring size, gloves — those types of details?
Kavanagh: If I’m speaking plainly, and I don’t know how much trouble this will get me in, I think we’re going to have a hard time finding a fair referee and a fair set of judges. It will be very difficult for a 50- to 60-year-old boxing referee to not go into this bout a little bit biased.
Actually, I’ll throw this out there, I think [U.K.-based MMA referee] Marc Goddard should be the referee. We’re already agreeing to boxing rules, boxing fight, boxing ring — everything is done boxing. So, how about an MMA referee that will understand the inside fighting that will go into this fight?
There is simply too much to be settled before this thing actually gets done, so combat fans will probably have to wait a long time for an official fight date. Still, we’re closer than ever before to seeing McGregor tango with Mayweather inside of a boxing ring and that’s all the excitement we need.