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Conor McGregor sparring partner: ‘He lifted me off my feet with his right hand’

Tiernan Bradley explains what it has been like to help McGregor prepare for his upcoming clash with Floyd Mayweather.

DUBLIN — Conor McGregor is set to finish preparation for his blockbuster marquee with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Aug. 26, but the Irishman’s camp is already in full swing here in the Irish capital.

McGregor has been training in a brand-new boxing facility next to SBG Concorde on Dublin’s Naas Road, best recognized for the gargantuan mural of him landing his patented left cross on the pound-for-pound great, which has been emblazoned on the gym’s wall.

Since the fight’s official fight announcement earlier this month, McGregor has put together a team of sparring partners. Pro boxer (22-21-3) and former MMA fighter (9-2- 0) Dashon Johnson has previously helped Manny Pacquiao prepare for Mayweather, which made him an obvious addition to the camp. Irish boxing pro (5-2) Jay Byrne has also been drafted in to trade leather with “The Notorious.”

Most recently commonwealth youth silver medalist Tiernan Bradley was brought into the camp after being recommended by Conor Wallace, the Northern Irish amateur boxer who was called upon to help McGregor prepare for his rematch with Nate Diaz.

Wallace’s recommendation was based on Bradley’s ability to replicate the Mayweather style and the 20-year-old is confident he can offer McGregor looks that will ready him for the “Money” man in two months time.

“People laugh when they hear me saying I can replicate Mayweather,” Bradley told MMA Fighting. “I guess nobody can move like Floyd, but I’ve been studying everything about the guy for the last 13 years.

“I know what way he moves and I know how he moves into his punches. I know how he reacts to getting hit. I feel like I’m able to bring that in to help Conor as he prepares for this fight.

“When I’m competing, I don’t necessarily use Mayweather’s style, but I definitely use some of his tools. The step-back right hand and check left hook are two techniques I use a lot. And of course, I use some of his defensive tactics to stop me getting hit.”

McGregor’s boxing ability is a massive unknown quantity heading into the Mayweather clash. Although he previously trained as an amateur at Crumlin Boxing Gym, 17-year- old McGregor left the sport to pursue MMA after collecting some novice titles in the ring. Bradley claims that he has never seen someone use the same approach as the MMA star in the squared circle.

“Conor is a very good boxer,” Bradley said. He doesn’t move like any other boxer. He’s powerful, fast and light on his feet ... He’s very good at getting in and out and connecting. He’s so quick on his feet it’s very hard to judge the distance with him.

“He’s so fast and unpredictable — that’s a very dangerous combination. I don’t think Mayweather has ever boxed anyone like that.”

He added: “It’s very different to any style I’ve seen over the years. He has this strange style and he can keep going at a serious pace for 12 rounds. He’s on his toes and he’s constantly keeping you guessing.

“My biggest takeaway from the rounds was the pace that we fought at and that he seemed unbreakable. I found it very hard to figure him out.”

McGregor’s left hand has brought the majority of his MMA bouts to a close, but there are questions about whether his stopping power will translate to boxing.

Bradley has no such worries having been lifted off his feet from McGregor’s weaker hand. The UFC lightweight later posted a picture of the shot on his Instagram account.

“I’ve got a black eye at the moment and I got that from him when he was wearing 16-ounce gloves,” Bradley said.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the photo that he uploaded onto his Instagram after our session. People are talking about his left hand and whether the power will be there with 10-ounce gloves — he lifted me off my feet with a right uppercut in 16 (ounce gloves)!

“That shot came out of nowhere. It was so fast and powerful. I can tell you now that those kinds of shots would drop boxers, and that was his right hand. He will definitely keep his stopping power with 10-ounce gloves on.”

Bradley’s first interaction with McGregor came just prior to their sparring session. The young boxer reported that the UFC lightweight champion was “oozing” confidence in and out of the ring.

“I was getting ready to spar when he came into the gym,” Bradley said. “I thought he would go upstairs to get ready himself, but he came straight over to me and shook my hand and asked me was I ready for sparring.

“He didn’t say anything specifically about the fight, but you get an unreal sense of confidence from that guy. This was the first time I met him. The way he walks, the way he talks, you can’t help but notice his self belief. It just oozes out of him.

“When you’re sparring him that same confidence is with him. He has a whole team behind him giving him advice and supporting him. There’s a great mood in the camp.”

The sporting merit of a contest between the greatest boxer of his generation and a man who has never contested a professional bout has been argued ever since Mayweather versus McGregor was announced. Yet, after his sparring session with “The Notorious,” Bradley is adamant that Mayweather will have his hands full Aug. 26.

“Looking at Conor yesterday,” he said, “I know he’ll give Floyd a hard fight. This will not be a walkover. I really think whoever puts more into their camp will win it. I know that Conor is putting in the work and that his confidence is through the roof. He’s going to be ready when fight night comes around.”

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