Floyd Mayweather’s 49-0 boxing record is littered with wins against sport’s legends.
Oscar De La Hoya, Marcos Maidana, Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao all lay in Mayweather’s wake during his undefeated career spanning two decades.
But mixed martial artist Conor McGregor, who is set to make his boxing debut against Mayweather Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena, isn’t a boxer and he believes that is his advantage.
“You can’t prepare for me,” McGregor said. “You can’t prepare for the movement or any of it. Let him watch and try and study. There’s no one in the game that moves like me, strikes like me or has the confidence like me.”
McGregor has been continuously mocked by the boxing community for everything from his warmup routine to his punching techniques.
A mob of photographers huddled around the boxing ring, draped over the ropes to get a glimpse of McGregor as he warmed up Friday at the UFC Performance Institute. The two-division UFC champion started by awkwardly flailing his arms to loosen them up before shadow boxing, which has drawn much criticism.
WBC and WBO light welterweight boxing champion Terence Crawford parodied McGregor’s rubber-armed exercise, challenging “all boxers” to the McGregor challenge and starting a viral sensation.
Current and former boxers Gilbert Smith, Jarrett Hurd, Benny Mahoney and Kalvin Henderson all followed suit with their own videos mocking McGregor.
McGregor, though, believes he’ll be getting the last laugh.
“I am just looking forward to post-fight educating the world once again what a true martial artist is,” he said. “I don’t know how many times they’ve labeled me a joker. Then the poor guy that’s in there with me has to deal with it, and then he’s unconscious.”
McGregor displayed an array of unorthodox strikes during his hour-long workout including leaping superman punches usually only seen in mixed martial arts.
“(My style) will be unusual to everyone watching and to Floyd of course, but that’s not my problem,” McGregor said. “They will study it after it’s done.”
Mayweather is considered one of the best defensive fighters of all time. Pacquiao landed only 19 percent of his punches against him, and Alvarez did only slightly better with 22 percent. McGregor believes he owns an advantage by being so different from Mayweather’s past opponents.
“It forces a man to react off my creation,” McGregor said. “When you’re reacting and not creating you’re in trouble. Factor in the punch power and precision and it’s not going to end well for Floyd or the people that are doubting me.”
McGregor is so green in the sport that he hired Hall of Fame Referee Joe Cortez to assist him with his training camp – teaching him the rules as he goes.
“Everything is legal that we’ve been doing,” McGregor said. “Of course I’m going to play to the rules, but I will implement my own stuff.”
One man has already witnessed McGregor’s awkward style. Former IBF and WBA champion Paul Malignaggi sparred with McGregor, and videos of McGregor knocking him down later surfaced on social media.
“The spars were not good for him,” McGregor said. “He took a lot of head trauma. The sparring partners told us when he was on his way home he was stumbling out of his car after the 12-rounder. He was badly concussed.”
McGregor, who said he will have at least a 20-pound weight advantage, is also two inches taller and has a 2-inch reach advantage over Mayweather.
“He’s too small,” McGregor said. “He’s not going to take the shots. You ain’t never seen me troubled by no small man like that. He’s 150 pounds and I’m going to be 170 plus on the night.”
The lead up to the fight has been as abnormal as McGregor’s boxing techniques – from the press tour that visited three countries in four days, to the astronomical ticket prices for fight night.
The cheapest seat currently listed on Ticketmaster is $1,682, with ringside seats costing as much as $35,000. A seller on VividSeats.com has a ticket listed at an unrealistic $164,043 but crazier things have happened — this fight for example.
While the average ticket price of $3,684 is slightly less than Mayweather’s 2015 fight with Pacquiao ($3,870) the overall ticket sales are on pace to be higher.
Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, claims they have already sold $60 million in the box office – dwarfing the UFC’s record of $17 million in McGregor’s last fight against Eddie Alvarez, and on pace to break boxing’s record of $72 million for Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.
“Every day I wake up and I pinch myself,” McGregor said. “I’ve come from shows where I’m fighting in front of a 100 people, and 70 of them are family of the fighters. That was only four years ago.”
The increased attention and pressure don’t seem to bother McGregor.
“I’m being who I am,” McGregor said. “I’m working hard, I’m scheduling belts with opponents, I’m telling them what I’m going to do to them and then I’m doing it. From there the train just kind of rolls with it, and it picks up steam as the predictions come true.”
His prediction for this fight is a bold one. McGregor said he’ll knock Mayweather out in under four rounds, despite currently being a 5/1 underdog with most experts saying he has even less chance of winning. Former boxing great Mike Tyson said on Sirius XM radio, “Conor McGregor is going to look really ridiculous boxing (Mayweather).”
McGregor remains steadfast in his self confidence, quoting boxing legend Joe Frazier for what he believes will happen to Mayweather come fight night.
“His brain is already gonna be shook, his money is already gonna be took, and his name is already gonna be in the undertaker’s book.”