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25th Aug 2017

Conor McGregor swore to me he’s beating Floyd Mayweather Jr. and I bloody believe him

All in

Patrick McCarry

“Doubt me now.”

Let’s be honest, 99.36% of the world believes Conor McGregor is going to lose to Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on August 26.

‘The Notorious’ has opted to make his professional boxing debut against the undefeated, serene Floyd Mayweather Jr. [49-0] in front of a crowd that will be paying in excess of $70m to be in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena. Angelina Jolie will be there. So will Denzel Washington.

McGregor has been boxing a little this year, on his hiatus from the UFC, but he only got into intense sparring and preparations about 10 weeks ago. Mayweather has never been knocked down and he has seen off the likes of Oscar de la Hoya, Manny Pacquaio and Canelo Alvarez.

We’ll stop there as one can go on and on about the differences in records and advantages one man holds over another.

As fight night draws closer, McGregor is switching through the gears. Eyes glistening. Veins popping. Gum being chewed flavourless in seconds. Mayweather is getting in some late-night Burger King and hanging out at the roller disco. Two different roads but both men will be as ready as they ever will be when the bell rings.

“One of us [McGregor or Mayweather’s team] is living in a huge delusion,” John Kavanagh conceded on Monday. “That would appear to be a fact.”

As much as everyone – from experts to pundits, boxers and MMA scribes to laymen and shock jocks – have told me that this one is a foregone conclusion, I can’t bring myself to take it as read. Not entirely. I’ve seen and experienced enough to push me into that 0.64% camp with McGregor’s team, his family, Dana White, Skip Bayless, Idris Elba, Rory McIlroy and… that’s about it.

On SportsJOE Live, former UFC star and teammate of McGregor, Aisling Daly declared:

“I know Conor believes he has a chance in this fight because I know Conor and I know how his mind works. The self-belief that is going to get him through this fight is what has got him through his career…

“In his mind, he genuinely believes he can do anything. That self-belief is unstoppable for Conor. And he definitely believes he has more than a chance for this fight – he knows he is winning.”

The last two times McGregor was under such scrutiny and facing such steady derision were before his featherweight title fight against Jose Aldo and, 25 kilos heavier, his rematch with Nate Diaz. He finished one scrap in 13 seconds and picked Diaz apart in the other.

McGregor has fought six times since SportsJOE came into existence. Each time he has stared down the lens and told us he is winning. Only Diaz has managed to prove him wrong and that loss was avenged.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, I am backing McGregor to get the job done. I’m not brimming with confidence but I know what he is capable of.

I am aware that Mayweather is a master technician in the ring. I’ve watched enough of his fights to fear that this could go south for McGregor but I’m a believer in the Hail Mary. That PING – when McGregor’s left connects – described by Daly that leaves you seeing stars. That moment of unexplainable, intangible magic.

Let the realists predict doom.

I choose to believe.