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Conor McGregor plans an eventual return to boxing, here are 3 ideal opponents

Jason Burgos

While Conor McGregor is expected to return to action in the Octagon later this year, the UFC superstar expects a return to the boxing ring eventually.

“Notorious” is still on the mend after fracturing two leg bones during his July 2021 loss to long-time rival Dustin Poirier. There is still no date for his UFC comeback, but promotional boss Dana White recently suggested a return this Fall for the former two-division champion is very possible.

While taking in this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, McGregor spoke with Sky Sports about his fighting future. In the conversation, he mentioned his leg is healing well and that he expects to be back in the cage soon. However, while he confirmed his next fight will be in the UFC, he revealed he plans on competing in boxing again eventually.

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“Boxing is my first love in combat sports,” McGregor said. “It’s boxing. I had such a great time the last time I was out there. Obviously, my return will be inside the octagon for the UFC in mixed martial arts … That’s where I’ll make my return. But boxing, I will grace the squared circle again in the future.”

McGregor faced boxing legend, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in his lone boxing appearance back in 2017. He lost by tenth-round technical knockout. If the Irishman were to return to boxing sooner than later, let’s take a look at three opponent options for the MMA superstar.

Conor McGregor vs Jake Paul

conor mcgregor, boxing
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his deep experience as a world-class MMA fighter, the Irishman’s booking against Mayweather, Jr. five years ago never made sense. While MMA and boxing are both combat sports, they are still very different, so it was no surprise that McGregor ended up being finished in his boxing bout by a fighter not known for ending scraps early.

However, a fight against the 5-0 boxing lightning rod makes far more sense. Especially since Jake Paul has boxing wins over former Bellator champion Ben Askren, and two victories over one-time UFC welterweight king Tyron Woodley.

The biggest hurdle in a fight would be the fact that Paul is a good bit bigger than Conor McGregor. But, since the 33-year-old has put on a lot of muscle over the last year, the size gap is not as notable as it would have been a couple of years ago.

Conor McGregor vs Manny Pacquiao

conor mcgregor, boxing
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Before his January 2021 loss to Dustin Poirier, there was a great deal of talk about a possible matchup between Conor McGregor and former eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao. However, once he was shockingly knocked out by the “Diamond” that idea was scrapped.

Yet, with McGregor’s career at a bit of a low point, and “Pacman’s” bid to become the president of the Phillippines having failed, a bout for pure entertainment’s sake in the next year seems logical. In the era of Logan Paul vs Mayweather, and Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones, Jr., a McGregor vs Pacquiao clash fits right in with some of today’s most popular boxing offerings.

Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather, Jr. II

conor mcgregor, boxing
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of “Money,” despite being 45-years-old, Mayweather, Jr. is still an active competitor. While he isn’t competing in professional bouts where his 50-0 record would be at risk, he has stayed active in freakshow fights like his exhibitions against Paul in 2021, and most recently versus former sparring partner Don Moore in Abu Dhabi.

Considering that Mayweather already has a victory over “Notorious,” maybe he would be willing to risk his record in a professional rematch that many of both men’s supporters would be interested in. Money talks and a second clash between two of the biggest box office draws in combat sports history would certainly deliver boatloads of cash. Even if it lacks relevance in boxing or MMA.