No longer just a dream marketing ploy, the potential boxing match between reigning king of MMA Conor McGregor and undefeated boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. once again found its way into the headlines when the outspoken Irishman confronted the boxing media, and more specifically ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael, at last Friday’s festivities in New York City to reassure the world that he won’t be an easy mark in the ring.
Attending to support friend and Irish boxer Michael Conlon–who was making his pro debut, McGregor was in fine form and provided a few minutes of added entertainment by stating his intention to dominate the world of pro boxing in one of his more memorable public appearances since claiming the UFC’s lightweight title with last November’s knockout-win over Eddie Alvarez.
“I’m the boxing guy,” yelled McGregor. “Watch me take over boxing. Trust me on that. No one in this boxing game knows what’s coming. Trust me on that. When I step in there, I’ll shock the whole [expletive] world. Trust me on that.”
“Look me in the eyes,” continued McGregor. “28 years of age. Confident as a mother [expletive]. Long, rangy, dangerous with every hand.”
And, always a true showman, McGregor saved the most intriguing part of his impromptu speech until the very end.
“Trust me, I’m going to stop Floyd. You’re all going to eat your words. The whole world is going to eat their words. We’re getting close, don’t worry about it. You’ll hear about it. I am boxing.”
To be clear, the “I am boxing” remark made by McGregor wasn’t meant as though he was restating his intentions to box, it meant that he is the sport of boxing itself, as in the most important boxer on planet earth. Roll your eyes all you want, just like the folks who rolled their eyes when McGregor said he’d knockout the formerly-immortal Jose Aldo.
But as entertaining as McGregor always is, and remember, this is someone who has backed up his lofty claims on countless occasions, some MMA fans are beginning to wonder when he plans to defend his lightweight title. Or, if he’ll even make it into the Octagon before the end of the year.
Immediately after becoming the UFC’s new lightweight champ, McGregor announced that he was going to take some time off to prepare for the birth of his first child in May. While earlier reports claimed that the big-money brawl would go down in June, several insiders, including the MMA Hour’s Ariel Helwani, have said that the meeting between McGregor and Mayweather Jr. will likely happen at some point in September, and the man himself told the L.A. Times the same thing at last Friday’s fights.
“[September] is what I’m thinking,” said McGregor. “That’s what the word is, that’s what we’re close to doing.”
If that’s the case, there’s next to no chance that McGregor will fight again before the end of this year, especially not when you throw a training camp he’ll need after not fighting in the UFC since last November into the mix. He’s never turned down an opportunity because of short notice so I guess there’s always a chance he steps into the Octagon before the end of December. But don’t count on it.
With McGregor out of action, top lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov—who was recently forced to pull out of an interim title tilt against fellow 155-pound threat Tony Ferguson with weight-cutting issues, and Ferguson, will have to wait even longer for their shot at the Irishman’s throne. And even if McGregor does fight before the end of the year, there’s absolutely zero guarantee that it will be to defend his lightweight title.
Fortunately, the UFC’s lightweight division is loaded with entertaining talent and proven contenders, and it’s one of the very few weight classes that can keep us interested during a champion’s extended absence. But for the rest of 2017, it appears that the world of MMA will just have to keep spinning without its reigning ruler.