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Like Conor McGregor himself, the Floyd Mayweather bout will be the first boxing match for McGregor’s coaches also.
According to a profile of McGregor’s upbringing in Dublin, Ireland from ESPN’s Wright Thompson, McGregor’s coaches have never “cornered” a boxing match.
John Kavanagh, McGregor’s main coach, owns an MMA gym in Dublin which is how he first met McGregor.
However, despite their own relative inexperience with boxing, McGregor’s coaches apparently didn’t want to hire new coaches with more boxing experience for a peculiar reason – too much change “would be a disaster.”
Thompson called this McGregor’s “fight or flight” attitude. Some of it may be a product of growing up in a rough neighborhood in Dublin where drugs and violence were rampant, and some of it is inherent.
“Even now, he lives in a near-constant state of fight or flight, and while some of that comes from where and when Conor grew up, Kavanagh thinks it’s more nature than nurture. There’s just something in the way Conor is wired. That’s one of the reasons Kavanagh didn’t bring in coaches with more boxing experience. Too much new stuff, by someone who didn’t approach Conor’s psyche like a squirrel, would be a disaster.“
Thompson also wrote that McGregor can be “fragile,” while McGregor’s striking coach Owen Roddy said, “You got to be very cautious what you say around Conor.”
One particular anecdote showcased McGregor’s apparent wariness to certain situations. After learning of the fight agreement, McGregor’s team built a boxing ring in an abandoned car dealership, and got a mural painted of McGregor punching Mayweather. When they brought McGregor to the location for the first time, eager to show him the mural, McGregor was reportedly uneasy by the unusual setting and people he didn’t recognize. Wrote Thompson:
“Kavanagh asked McGregor later about that reaction; he’s spent a lot of time trying to figure out Conor, to understand the root causes of his paranoia and suspicion.
“‘Why are you looking over your shoulder?'” Kavanagh asked.
“‘I thought I was going to get jumped,'” Conor told him.”
It’s a revealing look behind the curtain at one of sports’ most entertaining figures. McGregor is the picture of bravado and confidence in most public situations, but behind that is apparently a natural uneasiness.
Most assume McGregor is in over his head against Mayweather, however, McGregor seems to embrace the challenge, regardless of how overmatched he may be.
Until August 26, it will be unclear how ready McGregor is for the challenge and how he will be affected by not training with boxing purists. The reason behind his nontraditional set of coaches for a boxing match forms an interesting dichotomy with his reason for taking on the fight.