UFC superstar and one-time boxing attraction Conor McGregor is set to return to the Octagon this weekend for UFC 246, where he faces Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the outspoken Irishman is still at least thinking about a possible return to boxing against Manny Pacquiao.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the 31-year-old McGregor said he’d like to fight the 41-year-old Pacquiao at the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, which is slated to finish construction in July and be ready for the 2020 NFL season, hosting the relocated Las Vegas Raiders.
McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather at T-Mobile in Aug. 2017, losing a 10th round TKO in a fight that Mayweather carried nicely enough so that people thought they got their $100 worth on pay-per-view.
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO) fought twice in 2019, beating Adrien Broner in January and Keith Thurman in July, the latter win netting him the WBA welterweight title and reestablishing the Filipino legend as one of the top 147-pound boxers in the world even at his advanced age.
The bottom line is that a Pacquiao-McGregor fight would absolutely do big business, at least so long as McGregor isn’t upset in the cage by Cerrone on Saturday. Pacquiao’s a star, McGregor’s a star, and it wouldn’t at all be a difficult fight to sell.
But there are some potential issues here, namely weight. McGregor’s a lot taller and longer than Manny, and he’s also heavier. Pacquiao fights at 147, McGregor normally at 155, and he’s fighting Cerrone at 170.
McGregor making a fight with Mayweather at 154 wasn’t too hard, but Pacquiao has only fought with a limit north of 147 once, back in 2010 when he fought Antonio Margarito with a limit of 150. Margarito came in at the limit, but Pacquiao weighed in at 144½, and while he battered Margarito with superior speed and skill, Manny said after that he never wanted to fight higher than welterweight again, that he absolutely felt the power of a bigger man in Margarito.
On paper, it might be interesting to do 154 for this sort of fight, considering Pacquiao would have truly significant skill and experience advantages in a boxing format. But size is size, and it’s not like McGregor is some clueless goober. He may not be a seasoned professional boxer, but he’s a fighter and athlete who has some background with boxing. Personally, I think Pacquiao beats him handily at 154, but I’m not the one going in there with the guy, either, and it’d be hard to blame Manny for not wanting to fight anyone higher than 147, a weight he continues to make comfortably, and it’d also be hard to blame McGregor for not wanting to go below 154 for the sake of being healthy and fit heading into a fight. He used to fight at 145 in UFC, but he hasn’t done that since 2015.
Most likely, at any rate, this is all just talk, but January’s a slow time for boxing news in general, so hey, let’s talk.