Don’t tell McGre­gor he can’t do it

Many say he can’t de­feat May­weather, but he’s suc­ceeded at big chal­lenges be­fore.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lance Pug­mire lance.pug­mire@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­time­spug­mire

UFC star, above, has made a ca­reer out of tak­ing on chal­lenges. May­weather is the next big one.

LAS VE­GAS — To Conor McGre­gor, dar­ing to step into the for­eign land of a box­ing ring to meet the leg­endary Floyd May­weather Jr. is the lat­est ex­am­ple of his pur­suit to do what few be­lieve him ca­pa­ble of.

“This is legacy. This is peo­ple doubt­ing me, ques­tion­ing my skill set — talk­ing as if I’m a novice, talk­ing as if I haven’t been do­ing this my en­tire life,” McGre­gor told The Times as his me­dia day opened Fri­day at the UFC Per­for­mance In­sti­tute. “I’ve been fight­ing since day one and I’m the best there is. I can fight in many forms. This here is Bruce Lee [stuff], that’s where my mind is at.”

McGre­gor, 29, has made his ca­reer as the UFC’s firstever si­mul­ta­ne­ous two-belt cham­pion by press­ing to take on chal­lenges that seemed too dar­ing, like tak­ing on 10-year-un­beaten feath­er­weight cham­pion Jose Aldo, like ask­ing for an­other shot at 170 pounds against Nate Diaz, and like seek­ing the dou­ble-belt feat in Novem­ber against Ed­die Al­varez.

McGre­gor won each, and he ex­pects, even as a 6-1 un­der­dog, to do the same against May­weather, 40, who’s look­ing to close his sto­ried, five-di­vi­sion world­cham­pion box­ing ca­reer at 50-0 in their Aug. 26 bout at T-Mo­bile Arena.

He em­pha­sized that point when asked if it helped to pre­pare with noth­ing to lose, know­ing he has a safe land­ing to re­turn as UFC light­weight cham­pion, free to ex­plain he only sought to test him­self in a pay-per­view ven­ture in which he stands to earn in ex­cess of $100 mil­lion.

“The word [lose] isn’t even in my vo­cab­u­lary. I am here to win. I’m pre­par­ing to win — win in dev­as­tat­ing fash­ion,” McGre­gor said. “That’s where we’re at. I don’t care about the money. I don’t care about any of that. It gets to the point where the money is just up here [in­creas­ing] right at the top. I’m at that stage now. As long as I make cor­rect decisions — and not stupid decisions — I’m set for life. I’m past the stage where this is for money.”

In his Fri­day work­out, McGre­gor showed off some moves with­out gloves in the box­ing ring, then put on the gloves to hit the speed bag and heavy bags. De­spite chuck­les from those who watched the footage on live streams and on so­cial me­dia, McGre­gor said that’s the beauty of what he’s bring­ing May­weather — some­thing the smaller cham­pion has never seen.

“We’ll come with a dif­fer­ent ap­proach than what he’s used to,” McGre­gor said. “It forces a man to re­act off my cre­ation. When you’re re­act­ing and not cre­at­ing, you’re in trou­ble. Then, fac­tor that in with my punch power and pre­ci­sion. It’s not go­ing to end well. It’s not go­ing to end well for all those peo­ple doubt­ing me, who are talk­ing things about what this is go­ing to be. I’m just look­ing for­ward to a post-fight ed­u­ca­tion of the en­tire world of what true mar­tial arts is.”

McGre­gor said he opted not to re­tain a vet­eran fight trainer be­cause he wasn’t sure he would have their full at­ten­tion. He also spoke about the im­por­tance of his loy­alty to his team, led by trainer John Ka­vanagh.

De­spite a split with spar­ring part­ner and former world cham­pion Paulie Malig­naggi and an­other who said McGre­gor is un­pre­pared for May­weather’s so­phis­ti­cated box­ing, McGre­gor said he dom­i­nated both men in their ses­sions. “[Malig­naggi] suf­fered head trauma, we were wor­ried about him,” McGre­gor said.

He also scoffed at May­weather’s no­tion that McGre­gor could claim a con­so­la­tion vic­tory just by last­ing all 12 rounds.

McGre­gor said his con­fi­dence is brim­ming so high now that he be­lieves he can knock out May­weather in two rounds, not four.

“You know what I heard [May­weather] say yes­ter­day? Noth­ing. I saw a man scared. I saw a lack­lus­ter work­out. I saw a man try­ing to talk him­self out of fa­tigue,” McGre­gor said.

Be­yond May­weather’s age and two years out of the ring, McGre­gor said the fact he ex­pects to walk into the ring at 170 pounds with May­weather at 150 will be an­other sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage.

“I’m go­ing to play to the rules,” said McGre­gor, who has sparred un­der the su­per­vi­sion of vet­eran box­ing ref­eree Joe Cortez. “It will be un­usual to Floyd, but that’s not my worry. You can’t pre­pare for me. Let him try to study. There’s no­body in the game who moves like me, who strikes like me or who has con­fi­dence like me.”

Myung J. Chun L.A. Times

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