When Eddie Hearn met with Conor McGregor this past February to discuss the Irishman’s potential involvement in Katie Taylor’s boxing homecoming, he didn’t know what to expect. The two had briefly met before at a Taylor event, but only exchanged pleasantries. And according to Hearn, his first full dose of the McGregor experience was a memorable one.
“I know everyone’s got their opinion. I always take people how I see them, right? So you hear this, you hear that, you hear this, you hear that. I had [lunch with McGregor] — I don’t know how long it was, an hour-and-a-half, two hours — just the funniest time,” the Matchroom Sport head honcho said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I love great energy, and this guy is just a pure character. It was like being at a press conference.
“He comes in, and just the energy and the enthusiasm — that’s one thing that I took out of is, you know that in boxing, and this obviously sits alongside MMA as well, you fall in love with the sport. He is so passionate about boxing, about mixed martial arts — he wouldn’t sit down. He’s ordered a steak, he’s standing up, he’s showing me how he’d fight this guy and how fight that guy, and he’s telling me about the Nate Diaz fight, when he’s on his back and he’s got a bad knee. It’s like a million miles an hour. But he’s like, ‘We should do this, we should do that. Let’s do this. Let’s make it happen.’
“I love him. I think he’s such a character. In life, you want to be around people where you go, ‘I’ll never forget you.’ I’ll never forget that moment with Conor McGregor.”
Hearn and McGregor initially met at the fighter’s restaurant in Dublin, The Black Forge Inn, after McGregor volunteered his assistance on social media following news that any hope for Taylor’s much-anticipated rematch with Amanda Serrano to take place at Dublin’s Croke Park stadium was “dead.” Taylor vs. Serrano 2 was eventually booked instead for May 20 at Dublin’s 3Arena, however Serrano withdrew in late February due to injury, and undisputed super-lightweight champ Chantelle Cameron stepped into the matchup as a replacement.
An Olympic gold medalist and undefeated professional boxer who holds the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, and The Ring female lightweight titles, Taylor is a beloved figure in Ireland.
McGregor remains busy with his own affairs as he readies for his 2023 return against Michael Chandler at a yet-to-be-determined event, but Hearn said the former two-division UFC champion is nonetheless all-in on helping Taylor accomplish her dreams.
“I know that there is an element to everything that everybody does about publicity and exposure, but he has a genuine passion for Katie,” Hearn said. “He loves Katie Taylor. He thinks she’s amazing. She’s a hero in that country, and he wanted to help make it happen for her, for Ireland as well. And I’m sure he gets [bad press], because everybody does when they reach those kinds of heights, but I had a great time. I really did.
“I was lucky that I was catching a flight back, because we had some of that Irish stout, and next thing you’ve got the Apple Proper Twelves, and next thing, who knows what’s going to happen with Conor McGregor? But we’ve been speaking to him and [manger] Audie [Attar] about supporting the event with those brands, and they look like they’re going to get behind it and push it, and then hopefully we can move that to Croke Park after.”