A POTENTIAL blockbuster fight between Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor has been given the green light by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).
Though the feuding pair have not yet come to an agreement, NSAC chief Bob Bennett has said he would be “honoured” to have the fight happen in Las Vegas.
Given that McGregor would be making his professional boxing debut against one of the greatest boxers of all time, the potential bout has been met with some criticism but Bennett insists the Commission would sanction it.
“It’s definitely an approvable fight,” he told Boxing News. “This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, it is a bit of an anomaly, it’s unusual because both fighters are phenomenal fighters.
“But back in August of 1957 Floyd Patterson fought Pede Rademacher, Rademacher was making his pro debut, and they fought for the world heavyweight title. Patterson won by KO in the sixth round. So even though this would be Conor’s pro debut as a boxer, there is some precedence, but this would be the first time we see two fighters at this level, one from the MMA world and one from boxing, having a fight.”
The difference here is that Rademacher was an Olympic boxing gold medallist, whereas McGregor has a very limited background in amateur boxing. He boxed out of his local club in Crumlin, though moved into mixed martial arts before he reached Junior level.
However, given this special case Bennett has revealed that McGregor’s performances in the UFC – which have seen him win titles in two weight classes – are integral to the decision of allowing him to box Mayweather, whose record stands at 49-0.
“One of the critical things you have to take into account; Conor’s a phenomenal athlete,” he continued.
“When you go back, he took up kickboxing at the age of 12. As a youth he became an All-Ireland boxing champion. He goes to the UFC, of course he had several [MMA] fights before that, and while he’s with the UFC he’s 21-3 with 17 of those wins coming via knockout or TKO.
“He’s a stand-up fighter, he’s a southpaw, he hits like a tonne of bricks, he’s got a great jaw, he’s 5’ 9’’ and he’s got a reach of 74 inches. If you take a look at his wins in the UFC, they’re predominantly from striking [punching] and if you take a look at the fact he was able to move from 145[lbs] to 155 to 170, he’s displayed some awesome unarmed combat skills.
“He’s proven that he can fight as a stand-up fighter. I’ve seen some tape of him boxing, I’m sure I’ll get an updated version of his skill-set as a fighter. I certainly think he’s worthy of being approved to fight Floyd Mayweather. His UFC background is critical in approving this fight.”
The potential fight has garnered world-wide attention given the stratospheric profile of both men. In his last few years of action Mayweather became the world’s highest paid athlete while McGregor has become a phenomenon with his natural charisma and fighting talent.
I am in Las Vegas. Floyd has retired on my arrival. pic.twitter.com/z9EcxBJaDr
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 15, 2017
However, most within the fight game see no way that the Irishman could beat Mayweather inside a boxing ring, and vice versa if they ever met in the octagon.
“Floyd is 5’ 8’’, his reach is 72 inches, so Conor’s a little taller and has a longer reach, he’s a southpaw. If you go ahead and take a look at Floyd Mayweather, he’s a phenomenal fighter too,” Bennett noted.
“He’s smart, a real smart fighter. Styles don’t matter to us but when you watch Floyd it’s obvious that he’s a smart fighter. His defence is arguably the best in the history of boxing – and I say arguably.
“You look at who he’s fought, Manny Pacquiao, [Marcos] Maidana twice, Canelo Alvarez, [Miguel] Cotto, you go down the list and they’re all basically five star fighters. He’s a phenomenal athlete, he stays in great shape, he’s fought as a super-welterweight, he can fight around 147 or 150, so I think it makes for a very exciting fight [against McGregor].
“I think there’s incredible buzz and electricity going on between the MMA world and the boxing world, they want to see these two fight each other.”
McGregor recently paid a $25,000 fine he owed to the NSAC for a fracas at a UFC press conference last year, meaning he is now eligible to apply for a Nevada boxing licence.
He has not yet applied for a licence, but Bennett would see no problem with granting him one should he do so in the near future.
“He goes ahead and submits an application for a boxing licence, puts forth the required paperwork, then if they agree on a fight he would have to pass a physical examination, just like he does in the UFC and just like Floyd does for a fight,” he explained of the process.
“They’d have to agree to in and out of competition anti-doping testing and one of the most important areas will be the weight, or catchweight, of the fight. Like I said, Floyd’s usually at 147 or 150 whereas Conor has fluctuated in weight and been very successful.
“The weight’s important, Conor’s a phenomenal fighter, as is Floyd Mayweather. Not too many people in the history of boxing are 49-0 and have gone against the best fighters in his class.”
A key issue of the negotiations is McGregor’s current contract with the UFC, which means the organisation would need to be involved in the promotion of a fight with Mayweather.
Las Vegas has staged some of the biggest fights in boxing history, namely Mayweather’s record-shattering clash with Manny Pacquiao in 2015, and while Mayweather-McGregor is a mismatch on paper, some have claimed it could rival Mayweather-Pacquiao in terms of revenue.
Bennett is hesitant to estimate just how big it could be, but he remains confident it would have a significant impact on the sporting world.
“Las Vegas, being the fight capital of the world, we’ve had great fights here for years,” he said.
“I’m sure this would be right up there, and that’s presumptuous on my part because the fight hasn’t happened yet, but because they’re both phenomenal athletes, they’re both in great shape, they’re both coming to win. You never know until the fight’s on. It’s very exciting and we would be honoured if the fight took place here and we had the opportunity to regulate it.”