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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019

Conlan impressed by the 'serious boxing skills' of 'down-to-earth' McGregor

The world amateur boxing champion is full of respect for the mixed martial arts superstar.

download Michael Conlan is an ambassador for Electric Ireland's 'The Power Within' campaign.

MICHAEL CONLAN ADMITS he was “pleasantly surprised” by Conor McGregor’s boxing skills when he observed the UFC featherweight champion during a sparring session in Dublin recently.

Conlan and McGregor met for the first time in June after the mixed martial arts star had made contact with the world amateur boxing champion via Twitter to enquire about potential sparring partners to mimic Nate Diaz.

Conlan recommended six-time All-Ireland champion Conor Wallace, who then travelled to Straight Blast Gym for a sparring session. It obviously went well, as Wallace is currently in Las Vegas helping McGregor to prepare for his attempt to avenge his defeat to Diaz a week from tomorrow at UFC 202.

“It was fantastic. It was great to finally meet Conor in person,” Conlan told Ryan Bailey of The42 in an interview before he departed for Rio de Janeiro, where he’ll begin his quest on Sunday to add another Olympic medal to the bronze he claimed in London in 2012.

“He [McGregor] is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s a really down-to-earth guy. I was actually kind of star-struck when I met him because he is such a big name in the sporting world. It blew me away how down-to-earth the guy is. I really, really respect him.”

Conlan was also impressed by McGregor’s boxing pedigree. The 28-year-old Dubliner moved to MMA in 2006 having trained at Crumlin Boxing Gym, and his ability with his hands has been the key ingredient in his success in the UFC.

“He has serious boxing skills,” Conlan insisted. “He sparred Conor Wallace, one of the top boys on our team, and I was very impressed by just how good his boxing skills are. I was pleasantly surprised. I knew he had good hands but he was even much better than I thought.”

Despite his admiration for McGregor, however, Conlan has no intention of swapping the ring for the cage when he returns from Rio.

“I was never really interested in MMA. I’ve watched bits here and there. The first fight I watched was UFC 98, Lyoto Machida fighting Rashad Evans, but I never really stuck to watching it regularly,” Conlan explained.

“But when Conor came on the scene he kind of attracted everybody to it, myself included. It’s not something I would do — I wouldn’t fancy getting kicked in the shins or anything! — but seeing what he’s been able to achieve has really gotten me more interested in it. I really respect him.”

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Paul Dollery

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