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Conor McGregor returns to action in the UFC on January 24 to face rival Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 but WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman believes the Irishman could compete for a world title in boxing this year. Sulaiman and the WBC helped sanction McGregor’s bumper bout with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, with McGregor losing by TKO in the tenth round.
The 32-year-old has not boxed since but he has expressed his desire to return to the sport and believes he can win a world title.
Speaking last year, he said: “I would love the Floyd rematch, I thought I did very well and could take the victory. Talks with Manny Pacquiao are ongoing.
“I want a boxing world title, it would be a feather in cap and I am feeling very confident in my boxing abilities.”
Sulaiman believes McGregor could earn a world title shot within two fights if he beats a contender ranked in the top 15 by the WBC, with the governing body willing to take his MMA accomplishments into account.
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Speaking to the Sun, Sulaiman said: “I would say, he needs to face and defeat a ranked fighter, then he would be eligible to be ranked and to compete for a title.
“Because, we have plenty of examples of Muay Thai fighters, who turn professional in international boxing, and they are eligible to fight for the title.
“We also have amateur superstars like Vasiliy Lomachenko, they come into professional boxing and fight for the title and it’s proven it works.”
Lomachenko won the WBO international featherweight title in his first professional fight and fought for the WBO world featherweight title in his second bout, having turned professional after amassing an impressive amateur record of 396-1.
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“If he is to start boxing and proves with victories in boxing then he should certainly be given the opportunity to fight for a world title,” Sulaiman added.
“We, in the WBC, consider the amateur career as one of the criteria for rankings. And, for example Muay Thai, in Thailand, we consider that career also when they enter into boxing.
“So, Conor has a mixed martial arts resume, so if he comes into boxing and wins a fight against a ranked fighter, he would be eligible to be ranked.
“This is not a rookie entering the sport, he has a long history of combat sports, so it’s a different scenario of what it used to be in the past.”
Sulaiman believes McGregor has the skills to succeed in boxing but he needs to prove himself against a ranked opponent first, saying: “What we saw with Mayweather was of course different with the times, the rounds, it is not the same to fight five rounds to then go 12 rounds.
“But he has ability, he has power, he has status as a fighter.
“But, to compete and become a world champion in the WBC, he would need to fight in boxing and by merit be ranked. Then, he would be in the position to challenge.
“I don’t know what weight category he would be, but definitely he would need to get a decisive win against a quality opponent to be considered to be ranked.”
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