With the whirlwind press trip firmly in both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor’s rearview mirrors, they can now focus on the vital month of training camp before their controversial entanglement on August 26 in Las Vegas.
Whereas fighters of yesteryear used to treat this aspect of the sweet science with high-levels of secrecy — except for the sanctioned media day when reporters would flood in to watch a few rounds of shadowboxing — today’s fighters now allow for an illuminating and nearly all-encompassing look at their training, gyms and key people in their camps on social media.
We’ve sifted through the various social channels to explore the winning formula that has kept Floyd Mayweather undefeated since 1996, and the unorthodox approach that has made Conor McGregor one of the most prodigious strikers in UFC history.
Floyd Mayweather: Mayweather Boxing Club
The Mayweather Boxing Club — affectionately referred to as “The Doghouse” — is a private facility that opened in 2007 prior to Floyd’s clash with Oscar De La Hoya. It sits in a nondescript parcel of land in Las Vegas’s Chinatown district.
As you’d expect, the facility is littered with Mayweather posters, TMT merchandise, dozens of heavy bags and a prominent ring, but there’s also Ms. Pac-Man arcade game in the lobby, which he famously added as he prepared to fight Manny Pacquiao. Those that are allowed entry are reminded that no cellphones and cameras are allowed while Mayweather is training.
The facility is managed by Cornelius “Boza” Edwards, a former Ugandan Olympian who fought for his country in 1976 before turning pro and later becoming the WBC Super Featherweight Champion.
On any given day, major fighters like Gervonta Davis and Badou Jack can be seen training there.
Conor McGregor: Straight Blast Gym & Crumlin Boxing Club
In advance of his scrap with Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor’s Dublin training facility, Straight Blast Gym, was transformed by a mural that shows him knocking the undefeated champ out with a devastating left hand.
Straight Blast Gym is part of a series of 50 gyms worldwide — on every continent except Antarctica — who classify themselves as the “Ivy League of functional martial arts.”
It was first conceived by Matt Thornton in Portland, Oregon in 1992. He said of the desire to craft a multifunctional facility: “I wanted to learn how to really fight. If that meant an Asian martial art, I would do that. If that meant boxing, I would do that. Whatever the truth with a capital T was as it related to hand to hand combat, whether it conformed to my beliefs and opinions or not, I would unlock it. I would unearth what that truth was.”
Straight Blast Gym unlocked McGregor’s love for mixed martial arts, but he first became involved in fighting as a kid at the Crumlin Boxing Club — a facility forged in the 1930s that started as a donation from an Irish tobacco company.
The club’s boxing coach, Stephen Kavanagh, recalled the first time he laid eyes on a then 10-year-old McGregor, stating, “He came in with muck all over his boots and I said ‘where are you going?’ And he said, ‘I want to have a look at the club blah, blah, blah’ and he just started hitting the bags.”
By the time he was 16, McGregor won the Dublin Novice Championships at the National Stadium. Since 1991, it has produced over 30 champions at local and national level. Notably, Daniel Day-Lewis also trained at the facility for his role in The Boxer.
Floyd Mayweather: Floyd Mayweather Sr. & Roger Mayweather
The fight game is certainly a family business for the Mayweathers. Floyd Sr. was a contending pro throughout the 1970s, who notably scrapped against Sugar Ray Leonard and ultimately compiled 28 pro victories before a gunshot ultimately derailed his career.
As a trainer, Sr. cultivated careers for three-time former light-heavyweight world champion Chad Dawson, former two division champion Joan Guzmán, as well as steering the ship for Oscar De La Hoya from 2001 to 2006. He is also widely credited for teaching his son the Philly Shell/shoulder roll, which has proved to be one of the most impenetrable defensive strategies in the sport.
Like his brother, Roger Mayweather was also a pro who captured the USBA lightweight title in the early 1980s. With 59 career victories, standout opponents includ Julio César Chavez (twice) and Pernell Whittaker.
Both men have been the lead trainer for Floyd Mayweather Jr. for long stretches of time. Sr. navigated his early career before the two became estranged and Roger then took over after the patriarch endured a five-year imprisonment for a drug trafficking conviction.
Roger was then firmly entrenched as the lead trainer for major bouts with DeMarcus Corley and José Luis Castillo, but that would soon end after starting a riot during Floyd Jr.’s bout against Zab Judah in 2006 and a subsequent 12-month ban.
Mayweather ultimately returned to his father after he was bloodied in a 2012 victory over Miguel Cotto, which coincided with Roger Mayweather’s failing health from complications related to diabetes.
Conor McGregor: John Kavanagh & Owen Roddy
When Conor McGregor signed on to fight Mayweather, many anticipated he would replace his current coach John Kavanagh, who was the first BJJ black belt in Ireland, with a more seasoned striking coach like Freddie Roach. The latter of whom prepared Manny Pacquiao (another southpaw) for a similar clash.
But McGregor bucked the notion of bringing in any boxing trainers — rationalizing that every pure boxing coach prior had failed to put a blemish on Mayweather’s record.
“Obviously, Freddie Roach is incredible,” Kavanagh said. “I’ve been trying to immerse myself in the boxing world, and Freddie has been called one of the last great guys to understand it all — trainer, cutman, psychologist to the young fighters, technician — but he did come up short in his approach to Mayweather. So, we can’t follow the same formula.”
More than purely an x’s and o’s guy, Kavanagh has described his role as a “filter” in which he can maximize McGregor’s training, while also looking for logical places to break down Mayweather’s Philly Shell defense.
The very nature of combat sports makes for a competitive environment. Thus, McGregor and Kavanagh have actually come to blows. In 2007, the trainer recalled an instance where McGregor became too rough during training with two of his fighters. Incensed, he pummeled him with his bare knuckles.
“I was still fighting at that stage so I held him down and beat the shit out of him,” Kavanagh recalled. “I kept hitting him in the body until he couldn’t breathe and then I looked at him [and said]: ‘What’s it going to be? We can train or we can fight?’ And he was fine the next day.”
One of the other fighters in the above scenario, Owen Roddy, has since gone onto become their striking coach.
“Owen Roddy has a lot to be praised for in developing Conor into the striker he is today,” Kavanagh said. “Conor came into the gym with the gift of being able to hit very hard, which is a great skill and seems to be something people either have or they don’t. But when you look at how he’s developed from a 17-year-old amateur boxer to a 28-year-old professional MMA fighter who flows flawlessly between a taekwondo on-your-toes style to a stalking Thai boxer, that’s a huge credit to Owen Roddy.”
Conor McGregor shared his feelings on Roddy, stating, ““Owen Roddy is always in my corner. He’s been a major part of my success, anytime I need him Roddy is always there. I’ve learned so much from him.”
Floyd Mayweather: Double end bag
One of Floyd Mayweather’s most redeemable skills as a boxer are reflexes that show no signs of eroding despite being 40-years-old and having not had a professional fight in nearly two years.
He put his fast hands and impeccable head movement on display courtesy of the double-end bag — a training apparatus featuring an inflated punching ball with two elastic cords on either end that connect from the floor to the ceiling. The in-and-out motion when a person hits it simulates an opponent’s head movement and returning punches improves hand-eye coordination, reaction time and rhythm.
Conor McGregor: Punching cards
By now, we’re all aware that Conor McGregor isn’t going to approach this fight with training or tactics of a traditional boxer. Whereas Mayweather relied on a tried-and-true piece of equipment to gauge his accuracy, McGregor practiced the art of unpredictability in striking by attempting to punch playing cards out of the air.
Some put this style of training on par with what Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux do with their tennis ball drills.
According to movement expert Ido Portal, who is believed to have encouraged the technique, there is real world application to the drill. “The chaotic trajectory of a flying card keeps Conor McGregor sharp, adaptive and responsive to an unexpected situation,” he says. “It focuses on abandoning original prediction and installing a secondary one in a fraction of a second — an ability that often makes the difference between the BEST and just GOOD.”
The Sparring Partners
Floyd Mayweather: Joseph Elegele
Floyd Mayweather has brought in rangy southpaw, Joseph Elegele, to mimic both the build and stance of Conor McGregor. With 77 amateur fights and a 16-2 pro record, he is certainly a seasoned veteran.
This is not the first time he as proved to be a tune-up partner for Mayweather — notably helping the champ in the lead up to his fight with Robert Guerrero in 2013.
“I learned a lot, just how to carry myself in the ring, how to be more relaxed,” Elegele said of his experience with Mayweather, four years ago. “I learned a few tricks from him, because he’s such a great fighter. You think you’re getting off [on him], and he checks you.”
There is perhaps no better barometer than a sparring partner for judging the effect “ring rust” may have had on Mayweather. However, Elegele sees him as being sharp as ever.
“Floyd’s the smartest, sharpest person I’ve ever seen in the ring,” Elegele says. “McGregor hasn’t been in a ring before. And with 10 ounce gloves on, it’s a whole different feeling. I think he’s going to get in that ring and gas out. He’s going to get stopped. I don’t see it going passed six. When Mayweather lands, he’s going to land precise punches. And he’s going to land a punch that is going to count. And McGregor ain’t going to be able to hit him.”
Conor McGregor: Paulie Malignaggi
Conor McGregor has brought in Paulie Malignaggi, who won world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight and faced big names in the sport like Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Zab Judah, Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner.
It may seem like an unlikely choice given Malignaggi’s viewpoint on McGregor, which dates back to 2016 when he posted a video to his Twitter account. In it, he stated, “I have been hearing a lot about this Conor McGregor situation and I got to thinking, you know what? — I am kind of interested. At first I was telling Conor to stay in his lane and I was thinking you are going to embarrass yourself, but if you are really going to disrespect the sport of boxing like that then I would like to be the one to teach you that lesson.”
He continued: “I would never disrespect your sport and tell everybody I could beat the best fighter in the cage. You shouldn’t come to our sport and tell everybody you could beat the best fighter in our sport in a ring. I know you apologize about absolutely fucking nothing, but after I am done with you — I am going to knock the beard off you, homie — you are going to be apologizing for everything you have been trying to do to get in the boxing ring.”
Despite that, Malignaggi was still brought into camp where he has already gone eight rounds with McGregor.
“I was a speed and reflex fighter, so is Floyd, so there’s that,” Malignaggi said. “I think they also picked me for my boxing brains and to give my two cents. I’m there to help and do my part to improve him and get him ready for this big opportunity. I’d like to think there were several different reasons I was called. I am looking to make things happen for him.”
As for Malignaggi’s thoughts on the outcome? “Realistically, to ask Conor to win the fight is a big ask,” Malignaggi said. “But maybe he can win moments of the fight or certain rounds. If he’s winning certain moments of the fight, even if he loses in the long run, people will talk more about what Conor did than Floyd winning.”
Conor McGregor: Chris van Heerden
Former IBO and IBF welterweight champion, Chris van Heerden, also sparred McGregor twice last summer as he started to get more serious about the super-fight with Floyd Mayweather. As a professional, van Heerden is 25-2 with 12 knockouts. Thus, the world was certainly impressed when McGregor released footage that insinuated that he had gotten the best of the former champion.
In response, van Heerden released the unedited footage to illustrate what had really happened: he had, in fact, severely outclassed McGregor.
“When people ask me why I’ve released this footage now, it’s because it hurts me that there are guys like myself who have been devoted to this sport, risking our lives,” he said. “And to see McGregor, who has zero knowledge of professional boxing, make it out like he could just get out of an octagon, step in the ring and beat up the best pound-for-pound fighter out there – to just make out like our lifestyle is so easy and that anybody could do it, and then for people to be saying he has a big chance of beating Floyd. I just thought, judge for yourself.”
Find out who comes out on top when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor go toe-to-toe on August 26.
Next up: this is why Conor McGregor needs to beat Floyd Mayweather.
- Main & Featured Image: Dana White