By: Sean Crose
It’s doubtful he’d ever admit it, but Conor McGregor is different on a conference call than he is when all eyes are on him. The McGregor who spoke to the media on a Wednesday call was polite, smart…and actually somewhat likable. Incredible, I know, but true. While it’s a fact the smack talk of lore was still evident (“I don’t not see him absorbing the blows in the first few rounds…I’m ready to put him away in the first ten seconds”) the McGregor of Wednesday was most distinctly not the same man seen strutting about the outrageous press tour of several weeks ago. With his August 26th megabout with Floyd Mayweather less than two weeks away, the McGregor of Wednesday came across often enough as thoughtful and at ease.
Photo Credit: USA Today
With that in mind, it was still clear McGregor is something of strange man. “It is what it is,” he said in regards to Bud Crawford and others making fun of his training methods online. “It’s lighthearted and I don’t take it personal.” Then, however, McGregor went on a tangent about why his way of doing things is legitimate, replete with some anger against his antagonists. There was little doubt, however, that McGregor is taking Mayweather seriously. “It is what it is,” he once again claimed (it was clearly a favorite phrase of his) of the fact that many in the boxing world are essentially writing him off. “I use it as motivation…but, at the same time, I get it.” McGregor went on to speak of “earning my respect in this game (boxing) also.”
As for training camp, the Irish UFC star made it clear he’s feeling confident as fight week closes in. “We’ve had one hell of a camp,” he said, “now we are closing in on the weight cutting phase.” McGregor was also obviously aware of the differences between boxing and mixed martial arts, the sport which has made him famous. “You’ve got to factor in there’s not as much grappling,” he said of boxing. “We’ve stretched it (his preparation) out to accommodate the twelve three minute rounds.” Things got a bit awkward when the New York Times acted the part of the New York Times by bringing up the race issue. “It’s give and take here,” McGregor claimed in response to the accusation he can get away with things Mayweather can’t. “I’ve been given my fair share of hate and my fair share of love also.”
There was, however, one particularly odd statement that came from McGregor’s mouth, one that made this author take note. “We are prepared,” McGregor claimed, “for every possible outcome.” Was McGregor, the very picture of confidence, showing a bit of uncertainty – even unintentionally so? Or was it all just a slip of the tongue, an off way of putting things, something that might be misinterpreted?
That’s something only that perhaps only Conor McGregor knows
More Full Coverage: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor
Ward, Kovalev Conference Calls Showcase Differences In Character
By: Sean Crose
Kovalev: “I hate him.”
Ward: “He’s a good fighter.”
Kovalev: “He didn’t deserve this belt.”
Ward: “It doesn’t take a close decision to get criticism.”
Kovalev: “I want to punish him.”
Andre Ward. Sergey Kovalev. Two men. Two highly regarded light heavyweights. Opponents. Enemies. Individuals with completely different ways of going about things. Kovalev, who goes by the name of Krusher, has no use for Ward, who squeaked by with a win against him via a controversial decision last fall. Now, with a rematch closing in, the Russian is a man on a mission. “I have a really big motivation for this fight,” he said during a Tuesday conference call. “I want to get back my belt.”
Ward himself had a lot to say during his own Wednesday conference call, but the two media calls couldn’t be further apart. Kovalev, for instance, was all business on Tuesday. Personable, sure (he’s actually a personable guy, Kovalev), but all business. Ward, on the other hand, was eager to talk about things outside of boxing on Wednesday. A religious man, Ward spoke frequently about God and about his own less than showy nature. “At the end of the day,” he said, “I just have to be me.”
Ironically enough, the Ward-Kovalev rematch, which will go down in Vegas a week from Saturday, looks to be the last time the two men will meet in the ring. That might be a shame. The fighters are so different that they make interesting opposition. Yet there’s intense dislike in play between the two fighter’s camps. “No more rematch clause,” promoter Kathy Duva claimed. “This is it.” Here’s hoping Andre-Sergey 2 brings some closure to the whole saga. “There’s no obligation,” Duva reiterated, “for there to be a rematch.”
With that in mind, it’s worth wondering if the two Ward-Kovalev matches will have as little in common as the fighters themselves do. I asked Kovalev trainer John David Jackson if he felt team Ward might make adjustments this time around. “They may,” Jackson said. Yet he made it clear he felt there wasn’t much Ward could do. “What adjustments can Ward make?” he asked. “He can’t get much more ready than he is now.” The respected trainer then indicated that Ward will change his performance at his own risk, stating that if Ward fights differently, “he’s playing Russian Roulette and he’s going to get clipped.”
For his own part, Ward trainer Eric Hunter had his own take on what’s to come. “As for this rematch,” he claimed on Wednesday, “all I can say is, oh boy.”
By: William Holmes
Mayweather Promotions put on a card from the Pearl at Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada two nights before Floyd Mayweather is scheduled to face Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The Pearl was half-filled by the start of the ESPN2 televised broadcast and Floyd Mayweather Jr. was not in attendance, but Leonard Ellerbe was there to run the show.
The first televised bout of the night was between Ashley Theophane (37-6-1) and Mahonri Montes (30-4-1) in the welterweight division.
Theophane and Montes both fought out of an orthodox stance. Theophane’s jab was able to keep Montes from landing his combinations in the first round. At one point in the first, Theophane landed a two-punch combination and Montes could be seen asking him to come forward with more after being tagged.
Montes showed good head movement in the second round, but Theophane’s jab and lead left hook were landing at high rates of accuracy. Montes was landing more to the body, but Theophane was landing more to the head.
Theophane remained light on his feet on the third round and was able to land some good counter hooks as well as a hard straight right hand. Montes stayed to the body and tried to trap Theophane by the ropes, but was not successful in doing so.
The fourth round was a strong one for Montes, as he ended the stanza with a flurry of punches. But Theophane rebounded in the fifth round and reestablished pace and control.
The best action of the fight came in the sixth round when a fight broke out in the crowd, but it was Theophane who was controlling the action in the ring. Theophane’s best punch of the night came in the seventh round when he connected with a hard uppercut near the end of the round, but Montes was able to bust up Theophane’s nose in the eighth round and apply consistent pressure.
Theophane looked like he was fading in the ninth round as Montes continued to apply good pressure, and Montes was able to knock Theophane down in the final seconds of the final round with a crisp counter right hand.
Unfortunately for Montes, the final round only had about ten seconds left when Theophane got back to his feet and he wasn’t able to capitalize on the knockdown.
The final scores were 96-93 for Montes, and 96-93 for Theophane on the remaining two scorecards, giving Theophane the split decision victory.
The main event of the night was between Ishe Smith (26-7) and Cecil McCalla (20-1) in the middleweight division.
The first round started off with both boxers exchanging and landing body shots. Smith was also able to throw a four-punch combination with two connecting to the head. McCalla’s jab was able to land in the first, but Smith’s left hook was landing and he ended the first round strong.
Smith was very slippery with his defense in the second round and his body attacks were creating openings upstairs that he was able to capitalize on. Smith wobbled McCalla at the end of the second round with a left hook, and he unloaded several combinations on his opponent as the round came to an end.
McCalla was more active with his jab in the third round in an attempt to keep Smith away from his body, but Smith wasn’t phased by McCalla’s jab and kept pressing forward. Smith was throwing hard shots and appeared to be looking for a knockdown, but wasn’t successful.
The fourth round started off with a jab fest and it was Smith that was landing at a higher clip. Smith’s best punch of the round was a straight right to the jaw of McCalla. Smith had McCalla backing up with his jab in the fifth round and was able to land a hard straight right to McCalla’s jaw that hard him momentarily hurt. Smith jumped on him with combos by the ropes, but McCalla was able to fire back. McCalla did connect with a punch after the round ended for which he could have lost a point, but the referee let him off with a warning.
Smith dominated the sixth round as he appeared to land a combination whenever he wanted to throw one and McCalla didn’t appear to land any punches of note. Smith was also in control in the seventh, but McCalla did land a good straight right to his Smith’s jaw near the end of the round.
The action in the eighth and ninth rounds resembled the earlier rounds as McCalla was unable to solve Smith’s defenses and Smith landing good combinations to the body and head of his opponent.
McCalla needed a knockout in the final round if he hoped to win the fight, but that knockout never came. Instead, it was Smith who was delivered the punishment as the fight came to a close.
The final scores were 97-93, 97-93, and 98-92 for the winner, Ishe Smith.
Undercard Quick Results:
Kevin Newman II (2-0-1) wins by KO over Richard Urquizo (1-2-1) at 0:47 of the first round in the super middleweight division.
Juan Heraldez (7-0) decisions Tayorus Teague (2-3-1) by scores of 59-55, 59-55, and 58-55 in the welterweight division.
Lanell Bellows (12-1-1) defeated Eddie Hunter (10-13-2) by decision with scores of 77-75, 80-72, and 80-72 in the super middleweight division.
Ronald Gavril (12-1) defeated Oscar Riojas (8-1) by a wide decision with scores of 80-71 on all three scorecards in the super middleweight division.