Floyd Mayweather Jr. sought to educate Conor McGregor about the difference between a lifetime commitment to boxing and McGregor’s recent dalliance.

“One thing you should know about boxing: If you give it, you must be able to take it,” Mayweather told the UFC champion Wednesday at a news conference.

“I’ve been here many times. Guys say they’re going to hit me in the body, with the right hand, with the left hook … after 21 years, I’ve been hit with everything, and I’m still here.

“It’s called smarts. It’s called having an IQ. And from Day 1, everything that my dad taught me, I still remember. And everything that can be done in boxing, I’ve done it.”

A major selling point to Mayweather-McGregor is to label it boxing versus mixed martial arts, enlivening a fierce debate that crosses generations with ramifications balancing on the outcome.

Mayweather, who is 49-0 and a five-time world champion, seized the opportunity to distinguish himself and his sport as the unique, record-selling boxing match Saturday at T-Mobile Arena approaches.

“It’s not going to be easy, Conor,” Mayweather said. “Remember, [Manny] Pacquiao [threw] bombs. Canelo [Alvarez] has got bombs. I’ve got a great chin.”

McGregor argued he’s seen “many skills in many forms” in the UFC, has taken a “shinbone to the cheekbone,” and is prepared to perform “as a true martial artist.”

But the near 5-1 underdog McGregor also showed a more subdued side Wednesday; some speculating he senses the looming punishment he’ll receive in the rare, spectacle event.

When former two-division UFC champion Randy Couture lured aged former middleweight boxing champion James Toney to the UFC octagon for a 2010 MMA fight, there was far less interest, and a first-round submission victory by Couture.

Toney said this week he wanted a rematch in the boxing ring, but was deprived of that when Couture retired, leaving Toney to buy Saturday’s pay-per-view for his sport’s atonement.

Mayweather smiled when told Toney had said that. “I’m going to go out there and do what I’ve got to do,” Mayweather said. “Believe me, I will.”

Mayweather has reason to defend his sport’s reputation. He’s deeply invested. Mayweather Promotions has a 45-fighter stable including lightweight champion Gervonta Davis and former super-middleweight champion Badou Jack, who’ll both fight Saturday on the undercard.

A Mayweather loss in the ring to McGregor would leave boxing embarrassed, and threaten to widen the lead the UFC maintains as the favorite combat sport of younger audiences.

“Nothing is a threat,” Mayweather said. “Boxing is legendary, and boxing is here to stay.”

The more legitimate threat is another gut punch to the UFC brand.

On Tuesday, the organization confirmed light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance that could result in a four-year suspension for the UFC’s former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.

Now, its lightweight champion and most popular fighter could be days from a knockout loss to 40-year-old Mayweather.

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor
UFC President Dana White said he’s certain McGregor will bring the fight to Mayweather.

“I’m hoping for an entertaining fight. What I don’t want is [boring] Pacquiao-Mayweather,” White said. “What these dummies [who criticize a possible mismatch] don’t realize is that it’s good for everyone if it’s a good fight.

“It shows you if you have two guys in the right place at the right time how high the bar can be set for everybody in combat sports.”

McGregor found himself brought into the boxing-UFC debate years ago, provoked by Mayweather’s criticism of the UFC.

“What woke me up was listening to him talk down about the sport I was dedicating my life to … and I realized we were at a similar weight, so I said, ‘I will get that fight with him,’ ” McGregor said. “I rose up to become a multiple-weight champion and then he came to me. It worked out perfect.”

McGregor has watched the 1976 special-rules match between Muhammad Ali and Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki, which was scored a draw.

“I don’t think Ali knew what he was getting in for,” McGregor said. “It was a crazy fight. … There was a brief moment when Ali tried to punch down and he ended up getting swept. Inoki ended up on top and the ref separated them straightaway. If that moment in time was let go for five more seconds, Inoki would’ve wrapped around Ali’s neck by his arm or a limb, and the whole combat world would’ve changed right then.”

Now, it’s McGregor’s chance.

“It’s about proving his fighting style is superior in MMA and boxing,” said Audie Attar, McGregor’s agent. “He looks at unarmed combat sports as something beautiful and holistic. Boxing is part of the art he’s infatuated with, and he wants to prove his methods are superior to the best boxer of our generation.”

McGregor embraces the massive consequences.

“I’ll be the true king of fighting,” with victory, McGregor said. “I’ll pick and choose whether fights take place in the squared circle or the octagon. I may change it to — not an octagon, not a ring — some hybrid and say, ‘You want to fight me, this is my … place.’ ”

Source: Lance Pugmire| LA Times