Patrick Hyland jersey a gentle and amusing former boxer

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Patrick Hyland, a gentle and amusing former boxer who once called himself The Punisher, waits for the boys and girls he now trains at the gleaming Straight Authentic DeAngelo Hall Youth Jersey Blast Gym in Tallaght, Dublin 24. An empty ring sits in a far corner while, to his left, the MMA cage is also silent on a sleepy afternoon. It will be another hour before the chattering kids who dream of becoming boxers or UFC fighters tumble in to work with Hyland and the mixed martial arts trainers.They all know that the distinct worlds of boxing and MMA collide in Las Vegas on Saturday night. It is a surreal boxing match which has little else but money wedged deep in its murky heart. Of course Hyland’s tiny scrappers also know that Conor McGregor, from down the road in Crumlin, Dublin 12, will earn around $100m for his professional ring debut. McGregor, a brilliant showman and the intelligent fighter who dominates the UFC, faces Floyd Mayweather, a masterly defensive boxer.
Mayweather is coming out of retirement for an even larger payday and the expectation that he will outclass a novice and lift his record above the great Rocky Marciano to a 50-0 mark which would be perfect – but for the absurdity of an apparent mismatch.The 33-year-old Hyland approaches the sporting melodrama differently by mixing humour and pathos. He met John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, at a party in 2013. “We were having a bit of a laugh, a few drinks and we were yapping away and agreed that I’d spar with Conor.” The first session was a jokey MMA and boxing mishmash and when Hyland was kicked in the leg “it felt like someone shot me with a big bazooka”. But then in 2015, he gave McGregor his first taste of elite-level boxing.
A friendship formed between two contrasting Dublin fighters and Hyland remembers how McGregor tried to console him after the death of his father. Patrick Hyland Sr killed himself in June 2015. He had always been in his son’s corner and Patrick was devastated.
“Conor contacted me when my father died,” Hyland says, “and I told him exactly what my dad thought of him. My dad always said: ‘McGregor’s the new star’ and that Conor reminds him so much of Bruce Lee. My dad was a Bruce Lee fan but he didn’t like Conor’s attitude. He was a boxing man and he said: ‘His attitude stinks. I’d say it to Conor’s face if I see him.’ Conor laughed and said: ‘Listen, he’s not wrong. Bless your dad. I’m sure he would have knocked me into shape.’ It was a good laugh.”Hyland understands boxing far more intimately than most who, like me, have dismissed Saturday’s event as a farce. Only last year, having lost only one contest in 32 fights, Hyland was good enough to challenge Gary Russell Jr for his WBC world featherweight title. Hyland tells some very funny stories about being knocked out by Russell but he is serious when assessing McGregor’s boxing credentials.
“The second time I went down to spar Conor at his new gym [on Dublin’s Naas Road in 2015] he was very good, very snappy. We sparred for 20 minutes and he held his own. He had a bit of weight on me but I was letting my punches go and he was taking them, moving, picking me with a jab, southpaw coming in with the left. He made me miss. He could box.”
Everyone in MMA extolls the power of McGregor’s left hand. Did he hurt the smaller Hyland? “I’ve been boxing all my life so I’m used to taking shots. He had a bit of a pop. When it landed you felt it. I didn’t mind it with a 16oz glove and headgear. But I don’t want to be hit flush with an 8oz Authentic Jason Taylor Youth Jersey glove by Conor. So, just like in MMA, Conor should come straight out, no fear and have a go. But he needs to throw at least 100 punches a round to get Mayweather out of his comfort zone. How do you do that? But Conor is a genius so maybe he can. Everything he says, he does. It’s amazing.”Hyland smiles when I tell him about my lunch with McGregor’s father. Rather than meeting
The yacht is called The 188 – the amount in euros Conor received on welfare right up until the week of his first UFC fight in April 2013. McGregor Sr, who drove a Dublin taxi for 26 years, has just completed his “skipper’s course” so that he can sail The 188 whenever he likes.
“I’ve had a few meaningless jobs over my time,” McGregor Sr says, explaining he was a hospital orderly when Conor was born 29 years ago. “I’m 58 so I’ve chopped and changed.
But I loved the taxi driving. I worked most nights and I had great fun with the people of Dublin.”Beyond sailing, McGregor is planning to fill his retirement as a part-time celebrant who can marry couples in a civil ceremony. So life has changed beyond recognition and McGregor surveys the Westbury in wonder: “Look, apart from us, it’s just ladies who lunch. Incredible.”McGregor soon celebrates his favourite boxing photograph – in which a towering Muhammad Ali shouts “Get up and fight, sucker!” over a stricken Sonny Liston in 1965. “We still have a copy hanging in the utility room and it’s quite possible Conor could be standing over Mayweather in a similar stance. Mayweather’s evasiveness and defensive fighting will not stop Conor. His left hook has phenomenal power. People call this a mismatch but it’s in our favour. Age, size, weight, power. We’re 100% confident. Conor is going to blow boxing to smithereens.”That positive conviction did not feature when McGregor considered his son’s future 10 years ago. There were raging arguments as Tony tried to persuade Conor his ambition of fighting in the UFC was a ludicrous fantasy. He needed a trade – and so Tony and his wife Margaret worked hard to find their wayward son a plumbing apprenticeship.“That was me being a parent,” McGregor says. “One of Conor’s teachers told us he had the intelligence to be a lawyer but he didn’t have the interest. I put a proposition to Conor.


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