Mayweather vs McGregor: Conor McGregor first set sights on Floyd Mayweather three years ago, says John Kavanagh
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 22/08/17 8:36pm
Conor McGregor first set his sights on a showdown with Floyd Mayweather nearly three years ago, when he was just three fights into his UFC career, according to his head coach John Kavanagh.
UFC lightweight champion McGregor will take on former five-weight world champion Mayweather in his first professional boxing match this weekend, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
It is expected to be one of the richest fights in combat sports history and it is a possibility McGregor has been contemplating since seeing Mayweather's name up in lights on the Las Vegas strip in September 2014.
The Irishman, who was then an emerging contender in the featherweight division, was preparing for his fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 178 at the MGM Grand, which he went on to win via first-round stoppage.
Two weeks previously, Mayweather defeated Marcos Maidana for the second time via unanimous decision at the same venue and the hype his fight generated did not go unnoticed by McGregor.
The 'Notorious One' has since gone on to establish himself as the biggest star in combat sports and succeeded in coaxing Mayweather out of retirement to face him.
But his long-time head coach Kavanagh insists McGregor is being driven by the challenge of defeating the man who most consider to be the greatest boxer of his generation, rather than the huge riches on offer.
"Of course it is a nice payday. It would be silly to think that is not a huge factor in this fight," Kavanagh told Sky Sports News.
"But, above all, it is competition. He has obviously done quite well in the UFC. He kind of ran through the featherweight division and then he jumped up to lightweight and beat the champion Eddie Alvarez.
"So the competitive side of him was looking for what is the next big challenge.
"And then he and Floyd seem to be on this path that was going to cross eventually.
"It actually began a couple of years ago when Conor and I were out here for his fight with Dustin Poirier and Floyd was fighting the second Maidana fight while we were here. That caught his eye.
"Then, I guess the combat gods smiled on us and it led to this crossing of paths."
Many boxing experts have written off McGregor, who heads into the fight as a considerable underdog.
But that has not phased the Irishman and he confidently predicted earlier this week he will "flatten" Mayweather inside two rounds.
Kavanagh shares the same view as his fighter and feels McGregor is more than capable of pulling off what would be one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
Mayweather has attempted to give the impression this week he is taking McGregor lightly, scoffing at his opponent's chances as he ate a burger from Burger King on the UFC's 'Embedded' show.
That has not gone unnoticed by McGregor's camp but Kavanagh feels Mayweather is setting himself up for a fall on fight night.
"I wonder what is going to go through their minds when Floyd comes back after round one, after round two, after round three and this half-crazy Irish guy is still laughing at him, talking to him, putting him under pressure and starting to land shots that they weren't expecting," Kavanagh said.
"That is a hard thing to deal with.
"We are ready for a tough fight but I think they think it is going to be a walkover.
"So how does your mind cope when it's not and you start losing rounds?
"I will have one eye on their corner to see if they start to fall apart, which I believe they will early on."