Irish boxing champ Micheal McGrance says that MMA superstar Conor McGregor is ‘in fight shape’ right now.
McGrane recently boxed McGregor in an amateur match in at the Crumlin Boxing Club in Dublin, Ireland. Olympic boxer Phil Sutcliffe Sr. is the head instructor at the club, where McGregor trained at from the ages of 11 to 17. Every year, Sutcliffe Sr. hosts an annual “Good Friday Boxing Show.” For this year’s benefit – the 27th annual such event – McGregor came back to his old stomping grounds.
“Conor came in for a bit of sparring and we were delighted. I told him he never needed an invitation to come back to his home gym and we were delighted that he came. He did some pads with our own Patrick Brady, and also two of our other coaches, Brian Geraghty and Tommy Martin.”
An Old Tradition
After the impromptu training session with the fighter, Sutcliffe Sr. says McGregor inquired about competing on the Good Friday card. He added that McGregor first competed in this very fundraiser 15 years ago.
“He knows how famous [the Good Friday events] are, they’re famous all over the world. We’ve had people from all over the world box on our Good Friday shows, some of the biggest names in Irish boxing have boxed on these shows,” he explained.
“Conor said he’d love to box on the Good Friday show. He boxed on the Good Friday show in 2004 and he said he’d like to go again. I said, ‘No problem, but we have to get a proper match for you,’ you know, someone that’s around his own weight and someone around his own class.”
Sutcliffe decided the man McGregor sparred during his training would be his opponent on the night. That man is former All Ireland juvenile champion Micheal McGrane.
“[Phil] told me after the spar on Wednesday,” McGrane recalled. “He said, ‘Hopefully Conor gets back to us about Friday—you and him could be the main event.”
Conor’s Opponent Sounds Off
Despite an incredible amount of amateur experience, the realization that he was soon boxing Conor McGregor was sinking in for McGrane.
“My nerves were gone,” McGrane admitted. “I had my Ma there, I had my granddad there and I had every single one of my mates there. I suppose you could say there was a small bit of pressure there, but it was a lifetime experience. It was just perfect, it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’m about to go professional myself. I have a fight coming up in Denmark next month and I was thinking that after that fight I might go professional. I think this made it all fall into place a bit.”
McGrane was complimentary of the former UFC champion, both in his showmanship and striking.
“He’s a 10-out-of-10 showman. As a striker, his power is 10-out-of-10 as well. He landed [punches] with accuracy and precision. You can see that in his UFC fights, he always stops people with his [punches]. But they didn’t stop me. I’m not American, I’m Irish, so I think he knew he was in for a fight after I sparred him on the Wednesday!”
“He showed supreme class in sparring Micheal McGrane, who was an Irish champion. It was a great spar, the two of them went hell for leather at each other. Conor decked him with a body shot in the third round, which was fantastic. Micheal got back up and he went at Conor straight away. He’s a warrior, he went back at Conor and he caught him with some beautiful shots. Conor danced away from him, but it was a very good exhibition of boxing,” said Sutcliffe.
“He caught me with a body shot and he took every last gasp of wind out of me,” McGrane remembered. “I didn’t think I was going to come back from it to be honest, but when you’re looking at the crowd and you’re looking at the corner…you have to get your breath back. I got my wind back before the 10 count, so I knew I was ready to rock again.”
In Fighting Shape
McGrane confirmed McGregor was certainly in fighting shape as well:
“He looks fit and ready to go, but you still don’t know what he’s thinking or what his plans are for fighting again, you really don’t know. It’s hard to know what he’s thinking. He’s a multi-millionaire, he could have anything going through his head, you wouldn’t know. He’s in fighting condition anyway, that’s a definite,” he said.
Coach Paddy Brady cornered McGregor alongside Sutcliffe on the night. But he had poked fun at McGregor in the lead up to the Mayweather bout. In an interview, he claimed the former UFC champion still owed him €70.
McGregor posed for a picture with Brady while Brady holds up the check that McGregor paid him back with.
“That’s the money owes me from 15 years ago,” Brady explained. “I got him his tools when he was going off to do his plumbing and he never paid me back. Every time I see him I say, ‘Don’t forget you owe me that few bob!’”
“It was a joke between a few of us, it was going around the whole club,” said Sutcliffe. “We had a picture in the gym of Paddy saying [Conor owed him money] on Sky television before the Mayweather fight. Conor was slagging him and he wrote him a check for 70 quid. Now, the check isn’t going to be cashed, it’s going to be photographed with a picture of the two of them and it’s going up on the wall.”