Conor McGregor believes he will knock out Floyd Mayweather inside two rounds but is ready for all scenarios when the two fighters clash in their eagerly anticipated superfight next week.
Irish mixed martial arts star McGregor told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday that a controversial switch to lighter gloves could lead to an explosive outcome in the August 26 showdown in Las Vegas.
McGregor, who is widely seen as a massive underdog against undefeated former welterweight king Mayweather, predicted an early finish to the fight.
“Particularly with the eight-ounce gloves, I don’t believe he makes it out of the second round,” said McGregor, nevertheless expressing the hope that the fight would last longer.
“I don’t want people saying ‘Oh, it was a lucky punch’ and all that. Part of me is hoping maybe he can last so I can show some skill and dismantle him that way.
“But I do not see him absorbing the blows in the first few rounds.”
The charismatic 29-year-old said a gruelling training camp has taken him to “hell and back” and left him ready to face any kind of scenario inside the ring at the T-Mobile Arena.
“There is no way in hell that I’m not ready to fight in the deepest of trenches in this contest,” McGregor said.
“We are ready for both scenarios. I’m ready to go to war for 12 rounds and I’m ready to put him away early on.”
Ulimtate Fighting Championship President Dana White also believes the gloves switch could shape the outcome of the fight.
The move is widely seen as benefiting both fighters — Mayweather’s fast hands could be quicker with lighter gloves, while McGregor will be able to make his punching power more keenly felt, provided he can land a blow on his American opponent.
“I think it affects the contest a lot,” White said when asked if McGregor would be helped by the change.
“Yes, Floyd will be faster with eight-ounce gloves but he’s more defensive. Conor hits like a truck, so smaller gloves helps him big time. I think it absolutely does.”
McGregor and Mayweather will climb into the ring following an international publicity tour last month marked by expletive-laden tirades and trash-talking.
McGregor, who was criticised for addressing Mayweather as “boy” during one event, dismissed suggestions that there was a racially tinged dimension to the duel.
“For me, it’s athlete versus athlete,” McGregor said.
“I’m disappointed to hear the way it’s being portrayed. All I can do is stay focused on my craft and go out and put a performance for my fans.”
McGregor, meanwhile, said he has used disparagement by the boxing community as motivation.
“It has certainly been motivating, the disrespect and the disregard for my skill set,” McGregor said.
“I look at people so many times and their mind is closed to how things can be done. It’s a set way and there is no other way. Well, if that was the case we would have never reached across the oceans in search of other lands. We would never have gone into space.
“You have to have an open mind and you got to realise that there are other ways. Fighting is a complex game. But I’m just looking forward to August 26 and proving what I’m saying and educating the world of what martial arts is.”