At the approximate midway point of Conor McGregor’s preparation for his Aug. 26 showdown with Floyd Mayweather, the UFC lightweight champion’s head coach is thrilled with how training camp has progressed.
John Kavanagh, head coach at SBG Ireland, said McGregor’s evolution has been enjoyable to watch up close. With another six weeks still before McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) makes his professional boxing debut against the undefeated Mayweather (49-0 boxing) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Kavanagh likes his fighter’s chances as much as ever.
Why? Because, according to Kavanagh’s recent interview with TheMacLife.com, McGregor is doing more sparring than ever, and simulation of being in the ring has done wonders for “The Notorious.”
“Without going into too much detail, just to throw a number at you: We’re doing four times the amount of sparring for this camp than we would do for a regular MMA camp,” Kavanagh said. “That’s a huge amount of extra rounds. And whatever other parts you get ready for a fight, whether it’s boxing or MMA, without a doubt the most important part of that is sparring. That’s the sport.
“So you can be doing movement drills and weight-lifting and running and all this different things that go with it, but No. 1 should be sparring as long as it’s sensible. To be able to do four times the amount of sparring, the progress we’re seeing – after each sparring session we do video analysis – and the progress we’re seeing from one session to the next, like everything Conor does. When Conor gets his mind to something, and he’s scarily focused and to see him apply that. … I really feel we’ve come leaps and bounds in a short time, and we’re only halfway through this camp. We’ve got another cycle to go through when we get to Vegas, and I look forward to seeing another leap forward.”
Although the approach to fight camps in MMA has and continues to evolve as the sport blooms, the blueprint for proper preparation in boxing has been largely set due to the its extensive history. Instead of joining a mega-camp with multiple high-level fighters, boxers ordinarily build camps around their own needs.
The most successful MMA fighters, such as McGregor, have generated the financial means to adopt the single-athlete focus. Unsurprisingly Kavanagh said that’s carried over into camp for Mayweather. One thing that’s also helpful to Kavanagh, he said, is the fact he only has to train McGregor for one fighting discipline.
“It’s simpler, because there’s less skills involved as opposed to getting ready for mixed martial arts,” Kavanagh said. “Boxing is an element. Now, of course, for boxing in MMA we don’t get as detailed into it as boxing for boxing.”
No matter how many rounds McGregor spars or how much he seemingly progresses in the gym, what he is going to experience on fight night with Mayweather will surely be different from anything he’s encountered. Kavanagh isn’t worried about the magnitude of the moment getting to McGregor, though, because along with physical preparation for the fight, he said McGregor’s mental readiness is right where he wants it to be.
“We’ll have done basically about 44 fight nights before fight night,” Kavanagh said. “So the 45th time we walk out it will seem very normal to us. It won’t be anything catching us off guard. Doing a camp with Conor now at this stage, largely because of not having financial restraints, is a joy.”
For more on The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
© 2017 USATODAY.COM