What was once thought to be the biggest roadblock to a potential megafight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor appears to have stepped out of the path and cleared the way for a deal.
It was a major change of course by UFC president Dana White, who has been quick to shoot down all speculation the fight could happen in the past.
“I do think it’s going to happen,” White said during a “Conan” appearance on Wednesday night. “I think it’s going to be a tough deal, there’s obviously a lot of egos involved in this deal and a lot of people so that always makes it tougher.
“On the flipside, there’s so much money involved, I just don’t see how it doesn’t happen.”
Mayweather, 40, is retired from boxing, but has said he would return if the fight against McGregor can be booked. The 27-year-old UFC lightweight champion has never competed in a professional boxing match.
Both fighters have fanned the flames for a potential fight for more than a year. McGregor is under UFC contract and it’s believed the organization would have to be involved in any deal.
White publicly offered Mayweather and McGregor $25 million, plus a share of pay-per-view revenues in January. Both fighters have said their starting fee would be closer to $100 million.
White showed signs he was starting to come around early Wednesday when he told TMZ he would never stand in the way of McGregor cashing in on such a big payday.
The “Conan” appearance took it a step further.
Industry sources have told the Review-Journal a boxing match between the two would probably open with Mayweather as more than a minus-2000 favorite.
White gives his guy a better chance than the bookies, particularly because McGregor would have a significant size advantage.
“He’s 27 years old, he’s in the prime of his career,” White said. “Floyd is 40. Floyd always had problems with southpaws, Conor is a southpaw and Conor hits hard. When Conor hits people, they go. Floyd’s definitely not knocking him out, that’s for sure. I’m not saying that Conor would win this boxing match but it sure makes it interesting.”
Of course, White believes it would be much different under MMA rules.
“If this was a mixed martial arts fight, it wouldn’t last 30 seconds,” White said. “Conor would destroy him.”
Online reports have indicated a possible date of June 10 in Las Vegas, but that timeline is unlikely. McGregor is currently on hiatus as his girlfriend is expecting the couple’s first child. There’s also a whole lot of details still to be worked out before a deal could be finalized.
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.