The predictions of Team McGregor have become one of the enduring traditions of a Conor McGregor fight week, in part because of the startlingly accuracy with which they seem to come true. Whether it was Dustin Poirier in round one or Jose Aldo within the first few exchanges, no one from SBG Ireland has ever been shy about stepping out on a limb to call McGregor’s shot.
That tradition naturally extended out to Monday, when at the beginning of the biggest fight week of their lives, SBG head coach John Kavanagh gave his official prediction for McGregor’s looming showdown against all-time boxing great Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
And for Kavanagh, the result of the 12-round boxing match between Mayweather and McGregor will ultimately depend on one thing: who takes a back step first.
“When the two of them walk to the middle, one of them has to take a back step. If Floyd takes a back step, which I believe he will, then I predict round six,” Kavanagh said on The MMA Hour. “That’s my prediction on it. I think for the first five rounds, he will back up, he will lie on the ropes the way he does, he will cover up and try to just absorb, and try to wear Conor down. That’s how I think he’ll approach the fight.
“If he doesn’t take a back step, and we’ll all see it — we’ll all see their feet, we’ll all see who walks backwards — if he walks forward and exchanges, it’ll be a one-round fight. It’ll be over in a minute. Because he’d be fighting in such a way that’s not normal to him, he won’t have had time to develop the skillset for an aggressive exchanging fighter. Like I said, I didn’t know a lot about Floyd before this, but I did watch his fights for his defensive work. So for him to go in there and try to trade with Conor and not walk backwards, would be so alien to him but so normal for Conor — that’s exactly what Conor’s the best at — he’ll be unconscious in a minute.
“But I think he skips to the middle,” Kavanagh continued, “I think he has his classic hand position, Philly Shell hand position, and he’ll feint and throw a jab or something, Conor will walk forward, [Mayweather will] back up, and he’ll aim to just pot-shot, cover up, cover up, pot-shot, clinch, pot-shot, and just try to get through the first couple of rounds. As I believe that will be the case, that will be the scenario, I think round six, Conor’s hand is raised.”
McGregor, the UFC’s lightweight champion, will be making his professional boxing debut against Mayweather, whose undefeated 49-0 record stands among the legends of the sport. But in a surprise twist, the 154-pound bout will be contested with eight-ounce boxing gloves, rather than the standard 10-ounce gloves for the light middleweight division — a one-time exception permitted by the Nevada Athletic Commission last week after both teams requested the change.
“It is twice the weight of the UFC glove, but it’s half the weight of the sparring glove. It’s a much smaller glove,” said Kavanagh, who admitted he was surprised by the move. “I actually just saw the gloves the other day that he’d be wearing — and I raised an eyebrow, let’s put it that way. They’re small, fast gloves. They will fit in the cracks that even the 10-ounce wouldn’t get into. It’s made me that bit more excited.
“At 147 pounds, [Mayweather] does (traditionally) wear that size glove,” Kavanagh added. “I just don’t know if he’s used to fighting guys that do big weight cuts. That doesn’t seem to be as big a thing in boxing. Mayweather seems to pretty much be at walking weight at 150, 151, something like that. Conor’s about 170, so it’s a big, big difference.”
Mayweather is widely considered to be one of the greatest defensive boxers of all-time, however his impenetrable style has often led fight fans to feel burned by the lack of action in his fights — a scenario that played out most prominently in Mayweather’s infamous 2015 contest against Manny Pacquiao. But Mayweather has been signing a different tune in the lead-up to Aug. 26, repeatedly promising to fight more aggressively against McGregor and repay fans for the Pacquiao debacle.
And while Kavanagh hopes that is indeed the case, he doesn’t expect Mayweather to stick true to his words.
“We’ll see, if anything, an even tighter defensive style than he has done in the past,” Kavanagh said. “He is lying when he says he wants to make up for the Pacquiao fight. He does not care about fans, he doesn’t care about anybody else except himself. That’s abundantly clear. So he’s going into this fight thinking, let’s pay off — he’s struggling with his tax affairs, he’s trying to keep all these strippers on the payroll and strip clubs running, and all these kind of things. He’s going in there to try to make a lot of money and get out unscathed. That’s his goal.
“He’s not going in there to trade punches with a 170-pound Irish gorilla. That’s for sure. And for that reason, the way I see it going is a couple of rounds for Conor to break him down and get through that defensive style and open him up, and then when the opening comes, which like I said, I believe it’s round six, land that shot — and that’s all she wrote.”