Now it can be told. In a recent interview, Conor McGregor’s striking coach John Kavanagh revealed that his fighter’s obsession with professional boxing has affected his preparation for MMA Fights.
Well, I’m not exactly surprised, but this revelation should be taken seriously by other fighters who might be in the same boat as the Irishman.
BOXING. The draw of pro-boxing is just different. For one, it’s been there longer and ergo, it has a more established following (Shoutout to old-timer and former fighter Jack Hall who is an avid reader of this column, but still hasn’t fallen for the lure of the MMA octagon.)
Second, its fighters earn more, or at least its major draws do. Conor could never have earned the moolah he did fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an exhibition match than with any other MMA superstar.
According to Kavanagh, Conor was apparently so focused on fighting Manny Pacquiao that he might have overlooked Dustin Poirier, leading to that stoppage loss.
Is his team trying to come up with an excuse?
Perhaps, but in the end Kavanagh is speaking the truth and it really doesn’t matter.
Conor is truly one of the best MMA strikers out there, and most of his striking prowess comes from his boxing ability and that cracking left hand.
That prodigious left straight has knocked out many an opponent cold, but in Conor’s case this has caused him to severely miscalculate his chances of winning against boxing’s elite.
SKILL. Boxing is a specialized form of fighting which finds its origins from the Marquess of Queensberry Rules way back in 1865.
Of course, it has evolved through the decades, but essentially it still remains a limited form of combat where fighters are only allowed to engage each other standing up. They can only use their hands, with no kicks and elbows allowed and even so, certain types of punches are deemed illegal.
It can be and is a sub-specialty of Mixed Martial Arts which combines several disciplines and styles of fighting. MMA is still the closest to real life fighting, and that is why many find it so exciting and more realistic.
But when it comes to training in both sports, the difference is like night and day. In boxing since you cannot use your legs, fighters have developed their endurance by punching. Ergo, they can train to be able to punch non-stop for 10 rounds or more.
In MMA, because you have several options on how to defeat your opponent, your boxing skills may not be as advanced. If you focus only on boxing, you do so at your own peril because you will be neglecting the kicking, the wrestling and the ground game. Being well-rounded is more important than being particularly skilled in one fighting style.
If you watch again what happened in the Mayweather fight, the latter only toyed with McGregor and allowed the Irishman to punch himself out before taking over in the second half and stopping him.
So Kavanagh speaks the truth, and I certainly hope Conor listens to him. He is an excellent MMA fighter and needs to remain that way if he is to climb back to the apogee of the sport he used to dominate.
VERBATIM. “We got a bit obsessed with the boxing one. There was talk of a big boxing fight after that... We just have to make sure we have to keep spinning that kickboxing plate and all the other aspects of MMA and get ready for the rematch”—John Kavanagh (www.boxingscene.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on a dear friend, Joy Denoga Bautista, who recently turned a milestone. Cheers Joy!