Legendary ref Joe Cortez impressed by Conor McGregor sparring sessions

Conor McGregor is working with Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez to better learn the rules of boxing ahead of his showdown with Floyd Mayweather on August 26th.

The two-weight UFC champion will be making his professional boxing debut when he faces ‘Money’ at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and critics of the fight have questioned whether or not the Irishman will be able to stay within the rules of the sport having been accustomed to using knees, elbows and kicks in his 24-fight professional mixed martial arts career.

McGregor is taking no chances when it comes to falling foul of the Queensberry Rules next month and has brought in Cortez to help ensure he makes no mistakes against Mayweather.

The New Yorker will fulfill the same role that Irish ref Emile Tiedt performed during the Dublin portion of McGregor’s training camp.

The 73-year-old officiated countless world title fights before retiring in 2012, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee is impressed with what he has seen from the MMA star so far.

“I’m just instructing him on the dos and don’ts, to make sure he follows the rules to a tee,” Cortez told NBC Sports.

“They were recruiting around for a referee to teach them the rules on refereeing – the unified rules – to make sure that there’s no mistakes being committed the night of the fight. We’re going from A-Z.”

“I’m pretty impressed with his learning and he’s not a difficult guy to work with. He follows instructions very well, and I feel good. He’s learning so quick.”

McGregor is preparing currently at the UFC Gym in Blue Diamond, Las Vegas alongside sparring partners Dashon Johnson, Louis Adolphe, and Tyrone’s Tiernan Bradley who he hopes will prepare him for 40-year-old Mayweather.

Cortez has been up close to Mayweather in the boxing ring on several occasions in the past, refereeing several of the unbeaten American’s fights, including his win over Ricky Hatton, and he believes McGregor has the potential to cause the five-weight champ problems next month.

“He’s a sharp individual who is very athletic, has a lot of speed and a lot of power,” Cortez added. “I could tell you that he’s going to be somebody to reckon with.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie