Unlike most MMA fighters weighing in on Conor McGregor’s chances against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Irish sensation Joseph Duffy has a somewhat unique perspective due to his experience as a professional boxer and experience in the cage against ‘The Notorious’.
Duffy, who temporarily left MMA in 2011 to pursue a professional career in boxing, accumulated a 7-0 record and sparred with some of the best British boxers in the game.
The Donegal local gained valuable experience from training with the likes of Chris Eubank Jr. and says it takes time for an MMA fighter to adjust to the tempo of boxing.
“The type of fitness is very different. We obviously cover some of that in MMA, but there’s a level of comfort you have to get to. I remember sparring high-level guys and there was almost a fight-like nervousness every time you’d go to a new gym,” Duffy told Tom Rooney of MMA Junkie in a recent interview.
Duffy beat McGregor via first-round submission at Cage Warriors 39 in 2010 and, while ‘Irish Joe’ admits that the UFC lightweight champion does have ‘pop’ to his punches, he believes McGregor should pace himself rather than look for the KO shot.
“That is something that will take some getting used to because it’s a totally different ballgame,” he said. “Conor is not going to be able to put pop on every shot and won’t be able to look at the leg to the neck as a target area.
“The gaps you’re looking for are much smaller. That’s what I learned in boxing – how to spot and open gaps, and to pace myself while doing that. It’s just one of those differences that people take for granted.”
Pundits believe McGregor will approach Mayweather with an awkward MMA/boxing hybrid style on Aug. 26 and Duffy thinks it could ‘unsettle’ ‘The Best Ever’.
“Without a doubt,” Duffy said when asked if McGregor’s unorthodox style could pose problems for Mayweather. “Sometimes the hardest guys to fight are the ones that are so unorthodox because, especially from a boxing point of view, they’re hard to train for. Floyd tends to cover all bases, but he might find it hard to find a guy who fights like that. It could definitely unsettle him.
“These techniques could be applicable and would be something Floyd has never seen, but to work over the course of 12 rounds, probably not. It’s just not a style you could use for the whole fight, so it’s going to be interesting from all angles.”
Duffy didn’t predict a winner, but the UFC lightweight contender believes that anything can happen in a fist fight.
“With anyone you fight, they have two arms and two legs, so they can always be dropped or stopped.
“Conor has some sting on his shot but it’s different with smaller gloves, and obviously, Floyd’s defense is impeccable. Floyd is used to seeing these shots coming, and this is his battleground.”
The Mayweather-McGregor boxing extravaganza takes place later this month, August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.