Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach knows what it's like to prepare a boxer to defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Back in 2015, Roach's star fighter - Manny Pacquiao - lost a twelve round unanimous decision to Mayweather in the richest fight in boxing history. The bout generated a record smashing 4.6 million pay-per-view buys and over $600 million in revenue.
Mayweather's fight on August 26th, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, is potentially going to break those records or come very close to doing so.
Mayweather will face UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who is making his professional debut in a boxing ring.
Before Pacquiao stepped in the ring with Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs), Roach had spent years studying the former pound-for-pound king. He was unable to put together a plan to overcome Mayweather's defensive capabilities.
Mayweather is now 40 years old and coming back from a two-year retirement stint.
But Roach still believes that it's going to be a very, very tall mountain for someone like McGregor to climb.
"It’s gonna be a difficult transition, obviously, because he’s used to fighting in MMA rules and now he’s going to the boxing rules. And he’s gonna be, I think it’s gonna be really uncomfortable for him and maybe difficult for him," Roach stated during a recent media scrum.
"And he’s going against one of the best boxers of all time. I mean look at his record. You can’t deny that he’s one of the best boxers of all time. I think he’s in over his head. But he’ll try hard though. He looks like he’s very brave, and he looks like he trains hard... at least for this fight. I can’t see Mayweather losing. But that’s just my opinion at this point."
To prepare for this fight, McGregor hired two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi. They had two hard-fought sparring sessions.
Malignaggi quit the training camp after McGregor's team members leaked out photos, and later video clips, of the second sparring session.
Roach felt Malignaggi took some punishment, at least from what he saw in those short video clips that were posted to social media by UFC President Dana White.
"Paulie’s a great kid, but did he really need the money as a sparring partner? It’s very odd, I don’t know. But he’s, you know, one guy’s active, one guy’s not. And Paulie looked like he got beat up a little bit in the tapes, the tapes that they do show, but we don’t know if these tapes... [if] they show the other way [of how things played out]," Roach said.
"So the thing is, what’s out there looks, [McGregor] looked pretty good. He has a strong left hand and he does have power. I was very surprised. I wouldn’t say [McGregor showed] good technique, but maybe, you know. Paulie hasn’t fought in a long, long time. He’s been an announcer and you know he did make a comeback fight here or there and so forth. I don’t think [Malignaggi is] at Mayweather’s level. But maybe [McGregor will] be able to do something in the fight though. Because he did fight a legitimate fighter [in Malignaggi] that was a world-class fighter, a two-time champion at one time."
And what did Roach think of the much debated knockdown that McGregor scored on Malignaggi.
"He pushed him over. It looked like a knockdown push or whatever. It looked [like that] from the second footage - I couldn’t tell. I just can’t say [for sure]. I’m not in awe of it," Roach said.