Friday 20 September 2019

Revealed: Conor McGregor enlists one of Ireland's most decorated young boxers to prepare for Nate Diaz

Tom Rooney, Mark McConville and Cathal McMahon

Conor McGregor has enlisted the services of one of Ireland’s most promising boxers to help him prepare for his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202.

Earlier today, Newry middleweight Conor Wallace revealed to that he had just wrapped up a sparring session with McGregor at the SBG gym in Dublin under the exacting gaze of Olympic medallists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.

McGregor posted to his Facebook page this evening: "Thank you Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Conor Wallace! Great to train and spar with our Olympic boxers today!"

Similar to Diaz, Wallace, who has claimed six All-Ireland titles, is a rangy southpaw and is the latest world class pugilist the Dubliner has called on to mimic the first man to defeat him in close to six years.

In Los Angeles last month McGregor was put through his paces by another lanky left-hander, former IBF intercontinental welterweight champion Chris van Heerden.

Wallace, 20, has targeted the 2020 Tokyo games for his Olympic bow, and has been training alongside Katie Taylor, Conlan and Barnes and the rest of the Irish High Performance boxers.

Last October he won an intermediate national title before losing to European Games gold medallist Michael O’Reilly in the Irish Elite final. This October he will travel to Thailand for the World University Championships.

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Wallace told that he was suitably impressed by McGregor’s boxing, and that the experience of trading shots with the UFC featherweight champion was an enjoyable one.

“I think he is a very skilful operator, his boxing skills is of very high level. He definitely has what it takes to be a boxer. I'm privileged to be given the opportunity”.

Wallace’s revelation is just the latest confirmation of McGregor’s ascetic application for the welterweight headlining bout.

Indeed, McGregor was willing to forego the main event slot at the landmark UFC 200, and a massive purse, in order to refine his skill-set and eradicate the shortcomings which led to Diaz’s seismic upset at UFC 196 in March.

With the Notorious refusing to attend a press event, the UFC pulled the sequel with the Californian from the card. A prolonged standoff with the Crumlin man and his employers ensued before a resumption of more harmonious relations.

McGregor dominated Diaz in the opening stanza of the first instalment, landing a series to clubbing uppercuts and straight lefts. Diaz, having taken the fight on just 11 days’ notice, was relatively slow finding his rhythm, though soon came to life.

Unaccustomed to fighting at 170lbs, McGregor had not sufficiently tapered off his preparations in the immediate build up to the contest and, by the halfway point of the second round, ran out of steam.

The quick-fire combinations of Diaz compelled McGregor to shoot for an ill-advised takedown and he was promptly choked until taping.

Without question, the forthcoming rematch, despite having no tangible relevance in any division, is the most pivotal of McGregor’s career.

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