YOU met with Conor McGregor yesterday. What is your opinion on his chances against Floyd Mayweather, and the fight itself?
Perhaps I am trying to make for myself an entertaining scenario in my head, but I can see how Conor McGregor can actually do the impossible and beat Floyd Mayweather Jnr. It’s so obvious to me, so surely Conor can see it.
I’m trying to have people see that there is a way and perhaps I’m deluding myself, because Conor should not – under any circumstances – give Mayweather any time, any moment to set himself. If he does, there is no way he can win because you can’t compare the skills of a McGregor to any of these world champions that Mayweather has beaten over the years. He has no chance if he boxes him, but if he fights him, he has a 50-50 chance. It will not be pretty, it will be ungainly and it will be uncouth but that’s exactly how Steve Collins beat me in the second fight I had with him.
I’ve seen it done. Only the Irish have these ghost-like spirits who can achieve such heights. So it is possible. Perhaps I’m wrong, but in my head I can see how he can do it.
But, when I spoke to him yesterday, in private, he is focused on what he’s going to do. He was talking to me about actually playing, and showing his art. No, you can’t do that with Mayweather, you can’t give him a second.
I admire, respect and adore the boxing skills of Floyd Mayweather Jnr. There is nothing to admire in the skillset of Conor McGregor compared to the calibre of what he’s fighting.
It is not going to be as easy for Mayweather as everybody seems to think. McGregor has that will inside him. I can see that, I recognise that quality. This guy has come from nothing, he has come from poverty. I respect that. It resonates with me because that’s where I come from.
Do you understand the argument that the fight shouldn’t have been sanctioned? You reference Steve Collins there, but Steve Collins had significantly more education in boxing. Should McGregor not have been doing a four-rounder, then eight, and building up to this. Is this not a completely ludicrous step?
All of this conjecture, and all of this controversy is good because for all those who would agree with what you’ve just said, it’s controversy, so we are all talking about it. I’ve travelled overseas to watch it, and I don’t watch fights, because usually you have people who are hitting pads, and being fit, but they’re not real fighters. McGregor is a real fighter. You know it from what he has done in the octagon. We know Mayweather is a real fighter.
What I am saying is, even though Mayweather has over 130 years of experience in his camp with his father and his uncles, they may not have taken into consideration that McGregor is not coming to box. And he can’t come in to box. If Mayweather hasn’t trained with the correct intensity, how do you hold off an irrepressible spirit?
I go back to Steve Collins. Mind games beat me the first time, but the second time, I was ready. There were no mind games in that rematch, he beat me like a locomotive. He came at me with maniacal conviction, tenacity, will, code of the Celtic warriors. Because of that experience with Collins, I know the Irish can produce magic.
Just think about if McGregor did this? The boxing community would have heart attacks, and I would be laughing, it’s entertainment.
But do you understand that concern from boxing fans? Do you see why people are against this fight? I’m sorry, it’s a more profound viewpoint because you’re talking about boxing. And anyone who is talking about boxing, you’re absolutely right. But I’m not talking about boxing. I’m talking about how Steve Collins beat me, and that wasn’t boxing.
Listen, can you see what I’m saying? Can you visualise what I’m saying? Watch the first round of the Steve Collins second fight. A magnificent performance. He was charging me. The man was crying. I saw tears coming from his eyes. The referee said ‘box’ and he came at me like a bull. The second time he came at me, I stepped to the side and he fell through the ropes.
Did your time with Conor strengthen or weaken your faith in him?
Conor thinks he’s going to show some skills. You give Mayweather a second, you can’t win the fight.
So did you advise him against that?
No, I was more searching. ‘Where’s your mind’. He is absolutely engaged, I will tell you that. This is not going to be an easy fight for Mayweather, no way at all. People must always remember that in a fight, you are containing another man’s will so if Mayweather does everything he wants to do, it will still be a handful – and then some – to contain the spirit of this Irishman in Conor McGregor. He will have to beat him into submission, and that’s not going to be easy.
I remember fighting a guy called Henry Wharton in 1995 and he almost broke my heart because I broke him up too much. I was tired of beating him up. He wouldn’t stop. He kept coming at me, and that can break your heart.