LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Sr. is a proud member of the old-school boxing club who can’t wait for UFC champion Conor McGregor and his sport to be humbled, the sweet science clearly distinguishing itself from UFC’s brutishness.
“This one fight here might put UFC in its place,” said the father of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who will take on McGregor on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. “When this man [McGregor] takes a good ass-whipping, the UFC doesn’t want to see that.
“Floyd boxing a guy who’s never had a glove on? [McGregor’s] going to get the [stuff] beat out of him.”
That supreme confidence in his 40-year-old unbeaten son is more than ego and pride on the part of the father-trainer.
Several others deeply embedded in boxing also are convinced that McGregor, who is 21-3 in mixed martial arts bouts, has less than a puncher’s chance against a boxer who has won all 49 of his bouts.
“Conor McGregor will make more money than he’s ever made,” former world champion boxer James Toney said, “but he’s not a fighter in this game. He has no chance. McGregor’s a UFC fighter. He doesn’t know how to punch.
“He’s going to swing for the fences, get counter-punched and Floyd’s knocking him out in two to three rounds.”
Toney, a former multi-division champion, participated in the other recent major UFC vs. boxing match, getting submitted in the first round by former two-division champion Randy Couture seven years ago this week in an MMA-rules fight.
“We were supposed to fight again and box, but then he retired,” Toney said of Couture. “I’m watching this [Mayweather-McGregor] pay-per-view because this is how it should be. Boxing is No. 1, period.”
The Times spent time last week with Southland boxing trainer Manny Robles, his super-bantamweight world champion Jessie Magdaleno and his 2016 Irish Olympian, McGregor’s close friend Michael Conlan, dissecting video footage of McGregor’s boxing training, sparring and UFC fights.
Among the critiques, the men said that McGregor punches too wide, drops his hands too recklessly and lifts his chin to leave himself dangerously vulnerable to counter-puncheswhen throwing his own power shots.
“The only chance I give Conor is his self-belief,” said Conlan, who was memorably walked into Madison Square Garden’s Theater by McGregor on St. Patrick’s Day for Conlan’s victorious pro debut. “He has self-belief I’ve never seen before, but he’s taking on an almost impossible task.”
Robles, who’ll lead Conlan and featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez into separate bouts Sept. 22 in Tucson, Ariz., cracked that it’s a long shot worth taking because McGregor is positioned to earn more than $100 million for the bout.
“If I got paid that kind of money, I’d fight Mike Tyson — twice,” Robles said. “Today and tomorrow.”
Magdaleno pointed out that five-round UFC fights last only 25 minutes.
“You’ve got 11 more minutes against Floyd Mayweather,” Magdaleno said of Mayweather, “and if he’s gassing out in two rounds [against Nate Diaz in their first 2016 fight], that’s only three to four rounds in boxing against a guy who can go 12 rounds with his eyes closed.
“You can’t fight with your hands down like that. Floyd will just do his thing and counter all day.”
Robles laughed at Mayweather’s expressing concern that McGregor is 11 years younger than him, is stronger and has a two-inch reach advantage.
“Floyd’s just selling the fight,” Robles said. “He’s so gifted, so talented, great chin, knows how to dictate the tempo. He snaps his punches. He’s 40, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t hit what you can’t see.”
All involved believe that McGregor’s best chance is to throw punches without abandon early, hoping he lands one and hurts Mayweather.
“Put it all on the line,” Conlan said, “and if it doesn’t work, go out on your shield.”