Even with another main event MMA bout less than 48 hours away, Conor McGregor is happy to entertain talk of another blockbuster boxing match.
McGregor is set to face Donald Cerrone in the welterweight headliner of UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, a fight that will mark his first Octagon appearance in 15 months. The former two-division champion has shown plenty of respect to Cerrone in the lead-up to their clash, but at media day on Thursday, he told reporters that he still has his eye on a rematch with Floyd Mayweather – or a fresh matchup with Manny Pacquiao.
The idea of a Pacquiao bout was recently promoted by Sean Gibbons, a business associate of the multiple-time boxing champion. Gibbons shared a mock poster for a Pacquiao-McGregor bout with the still-under-construction Allegiant Stadium as a dream destination.
The Las Vegas stadium is expected to open this summer and seat well over 60,000 people. McGregor was enthused at the thought of packing the house opposite Pacquiao.
“That’s the new football stadium, is it? I would be honored to be a part of that event,” McGregor said. “I would love to be the first combatant to fight in that arena. What a fight that would be against Manny, right? A small, powerful southpaw. I’d have to figure out the weight and these types of things, but it’s something that interests me no doubt.”
McGregor has spent so much time talking to the media about boxing—and technically has fought as many times in the ring as he has in the cage over the last three years—that it raised the question of how the 31-year-old plans to split his time between combat sports in the future.
He couldn’t say whether he was planning to follow the Cerrone fight with a boxing or MMA booking, but did reiterate his desire to capture a boxing title.
“It’ll be hard to leave the MMA game fully,” McGregor said. “I think that’s a great aspiration to have, to achieve that world boxing title. What a feather in the cap that would be, to be a multiple-time dual-weight mixed martial arts world champion and then to acquire a boxing world title.
“That’s something I always look to aspire bigger and reach higher and aim for the stars. With activity, with consistency, and with structure I can do anything, like I have done already.”
While both Mayweather and Pacquiao are both in their early 40s, Pacquiao has remained more active, fighting and winning twice in 2019. Mayweather is currently retired, though rumors of a return have swirled after recent discussions with UFC president Dana White.
That has McGregor targeting a rematch with Mayweather sooner rather than later.
“I certainly would love the rematch with Floyd,” said McGregor, who was stopped by the all-time boxing great in the second most lucrative pay-per-view in North American history. “It could very well happen this year, yes. It could very well happen. I know the Manny one is there whenever.”
In the event that neither the Mayweather or Pacquiao fights materialize, McGregor may have to settle for a contender with considerably less value, especially if he aspires to win a world title in boxing. He is open to that idea and was only encouraged by the nine-plus rounds he went with Mayweather.
Based on what he showed in that losing effort, McGregor believes he can compete with the best pugilists in the sport.
“I’ve gone right to the top, I thought I done well, I did do well,” McGregor said. “I won rounds, I hit him more times than Manny hit him, and I think with small adjustments in the prep and an understanding of what that style, he’s coming at me with now, I think I beat him. I really do think I beat him, but again that was at the very, very top.
“So there’s many world champions and many people around that also have somewhat of a name. I feel like I could fight anyone. I could compete against anyone. People want to see me compete and I want to compete for the people.”