Wednesday 18 October 2017

McGregor revisits his boxing roots as he prepares for professional debut

Conor McGregor will make his professional boxing debut when he fights Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas
Conor McGregor will make his professional boxing debut when he fights Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas

Conor McGregor has revisited the last time he fought as a boxer, and started on the path that led to him headlining in Las Vegas.

On Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena, the Irishman will earn the biggest purse of his career - a reported minimum of £59million - when against Floyd Mayweather he makes his professional debut.

The 29-year-old remains a significant underdog against a fighter widely considered the finest of the modern era, and having not concentrated on boxing since his teens.

At Dublin's Crumlin Boxing Club he showed promise before being seduced by other disciplines, and eventually establishing himself as the leading figure in the UFC.

For the past 12 weeks McGregor has been working to rediscover that potential and accelerate his progression in his pursuit of such an unlikely win. On Saturday, however, he will be subjected to the world's glare in what is expected to be one of the biggest fights in history, having started out at a level at which he would not even weigh in.

"It would have been (either the national stadium in Dublin, or) maybe Crumlin Boxing Club," McGregor said. "I racked up so much experience in Crumlin Boxing Club.

"Every Thursday they used to have this club show, and it'd be basically other clubs coming to the gym, the referee fully kitted out.

"There was no weigh-in in the club shows. You'd roll in and it'd just be 'Who's here?' What other clubs have come? The coach in Crumlin would pick, 'Okay, you're going to face him'. There was always a joke that Phil (Sutcliffe Snr, the club owner) would be putting you in with a light-heavyweight, or you'd be 60kg and fighting a heavyweight.

"'You're going to fight him, kid, now off you go'. That's the way I was brought into the game: that's where I come from.

"In this camp, early in this camp when we were in Ireland, one of the sparring partners came in. I recognised his face and it turns out I actually boxed him twice in the Crumlin shows, and then we had a spar: he was bigger this time than he was then.

"I remembered the two fights I had with him: he's actually a pro now. He actually came in because one of the sparring partners couldn't make it.

"Boxing is around forever and always will be. It's a beautiful discipline, a beautiful sport, and it simply will look amazing with a new king."

The 40-year-old Mayweather has repeatedly insisted this will be the final fight of his decorated career, and has made little secret of the fact he is looking forward to retirement.

"Is this still fun? No, no," the American said. "Absolutely not. I don't want to do this, I want to go home. All I do is fight, I want to get in there and fight. All of this is cool but it's part of my job.

"I'd rather be at home than here right now. But I'll be here so I can get that paper. But if I don't want to get out of bed I won't get out of bed.

"It's just work. It's the same thing every time. I've been here many times before and I've done this over and over again."

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