There are plenty of fighters, fans, and critics who are still against the very idea of Conor McGregor stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather this Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
Former boxing champion Chris Eubank, Sr. isn’t one of them.
The 51-year-old Englishman, who held world titles at middleweight and super middleweight from 1990-1995, appeared on a special edition of The MMA Hour on Thursday to explain why “The Notorious” deserves praise for taking his first pro boxing match against the undefeated Mayweather and why he could actually win.
Surprisingly, it was not any of McGregor’s highlight-reel knockouts that convinced Eubank of his aptitude, but the way he was able to accept defeat immediately following his lone UFC loss to Nate Diaz.
“That’s what makes him also a dangerous man. A man who understands condition,” Eubank said. “You lose with your head high, not with your eyes down and belligerent. That would say that he’s not dangerous at all. The fact that he lost like a gentleman tells you something about his code. He has honor. That’s why this fight is a very interesting fight to me.
“Over and above the fact that he’s Irish, and in war-like situations, they do have spirits which are able to enter a different paradigm. He may be able to bring this paradigm into a particular fight.”
Beyond just the intangible qualities that Eubank sees in McGregor, he also agreed with the increasingly popular theory that the Irishman could potentially turn a boxing match into more of an unpredictable fight. If it goes into the later rounds, Eubank expects talent and skill to matter less and for the outcome to depend more on who is “the hardest man.”
Talking about McGregor, Eubank was inspired to quote his own “warrior’s code”:
The warrior is strong, yet his sleep is fragile. His wisdom, an amalgamation of precedent, yet his decisions cannot be based on the frailties of man. He is rather fueled by divine inspiration ascending from the heart. He knows not anger and only fears the unknown.
The warrior does not judge, for his true assignment is to deliver evidence of superior behavior to the creator of all men.
The warrior does not dream of frontiers. He only sees horizons.
The warrior is a creature of irony, for his genuine task is to ensure peace.
The true warrior knows, accepts, and embraces above all, integrity, which is his course of life; reason, and the application of reason, which is his only weapon; and forgiveness, the one true cleansing virtue.
And only when one can fully absorb these most divine of all virtues can one at last see how impossible and futile it is to make war.
“When I see a champion, it’s not the belt I’m looking at,” Eubank added. “I’m looking at their attitude. I’m looking at how they carry themselves. So when McGregor lost like he did, that was the hallmark of a champion. That is a very dangerous man in the ring.”
Eubank would also go on to recite “If” by Rudyard Kipling and Theodore Roosevelt’s commentary on critics to further his support of McGregor’s willingness to take on what many consider to be an insurmountable challenge. He stressed that McGregor’s best chance would be to throw caution to the wind and follow in the footsteps of Steve Collins, the Irish boxer who twice defeated Eubank by employing an aggressive strategy that Eubank simply described as “madness”.
Regardless of whether or not McGregor can follow the example of Collins, the UFC champion has already earned Eubank’s respect.
“What I enjoy is anyone who partakes in the martial arts,” Eubank said. “And for all those people out there criticizing Conor McGregor, saying that he doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring as Floyd Mayweather, Jr., I disagree. ... This man is not to be criticized. He is stepping up to the plate, not just to the plate, but against the best of this generation: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. And that is to be admired.”
Eubank closed out his thoughts by reciting another poem, “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, in tribute to McGregor:
Out of the night which covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.