sport news Rory McIlroy: Conor McGregor can beat Floyd Mayweather

After The Open, Rory McIlroy is quite happy not to talk about golf.

Not because he had a bad week at Royal Birkdale - he finished fourth after recovering from a nightmare start - but because 'hitting a little white ball around a field sometimes' is far from the only thing he is interested in.

That light-hearted explanation is how he describes his profession on Twitter, but golf remains at the forefront of McIlroy's life despite some suggestions to the contrary.

Rory McIlroy poses with Conor McGregor (left) and One Direction star Niall Horan in 2016

Rory McIlroy poses with Conor McGregor (left) and One Direction star Niall Horan in 2016

McIlroy is a big fan of McGregor's and is predicting the UFC star can beat Floyd Mayweather

McIlroy is a big fan of McGregor's and is predicting the UFC star can beat Floyd Mayweather

Over the course of 20 minutes he opens up on his 'negative' build-up to The Open, wanting to stop Jordan Spieth from completing the Grand Slam before him and the mental strain which comes with challenging for majors alongside the world's best players.

He is, however, perhaps even more enthusiastic when I suggest discussing sports where he is simply a spectator, rather than the man at the centre of attention.

McIlroy's friend and fellow Irishman, Conor McGregor, is preparing for the biggest night of his life against Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas later this month. It is a clash the world No 4 cannot wait to see.

'I'd love to go,' McIlroy tells Sportsmail. 'I've been following all of it. I am on YouTube watching boxing channels more than anything else.

'I love the build-up to it, I love all that. I watched all of the press conferences live, I streamed them all. It's brilliant.'

So, does he think McGregor actually stands a chance when he steps into the ring to face the undefeated Mayweather in his first ever professional boxing fight?

'This isn't just because I know Conor, but I think he's got a chance,' McIlroy insists. 'In the first four rounds, if he roughs him up a little bit and connects with a few left hands…

'If he gets in there and he's sort of different and awkward, weird and unorthodox, you just never know.

'Everyone says Mayweather has had his difficulties with southpaws in the past, but if it goes past the fifth round and he (McGregor) hasn't been able to land a shot then he's got no chance.

'I think it has to be within the first three or four rounds.'

Mayweather and McGregor's controversial pre-fight promotion has been lapped up by McIlroy

Mayweather and McGregor's controversial pre-fight promotion has been lapped up by McIlroy

The golfing superstar explains his love of other sports to Sportsmail's Joe Strange

The golfing superstar explains his love of other sports to Sportsmail's Joe Strange

McIlroy makes no effort to hide his excitement over the August 26 bout, which has captured the imaginations of both boxing and UFC fans alike since first being rumoured. But more than anything, he is just happy to see McGregor get an opportunity to shock the world.

'He's great,' McIlroy adds with a smile. 'He believes in what he's saying and that's half the battle. If you believe what you're saying then you've got a decent chance.

'Both of them will make a lot of money from it and good on them. It's great for Conor. To go from where he was in MMA, getting $1million a fight, to getting $75m or a $100m, that's massive.

'He has this persona but he's a humble guy who doesn't forget where he comes from. He goes to the

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