Conor McGregor clear favourite in Toronto

TORONTO — UFC star Conor McGregor strutted up to the podium, checked the microphone in his hand, and then punched the mic attached to the podium out of its stand. The thousands of combat sport fans in attendance at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage exploded into cheers as his fist connected with the mic.

McGregor then encouraged the crowd to shout expletives at Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his family before launching into a nearly 10-minute long profanity-laced tirade.

“They’re trying to set me up at every turn out here, they’re trying to catch me off guard, trying to see me in an uncomfortable position,” said McGregor on Wednesday after challenging Mayweather to come and get the remaining microphone from his hand. “But I thrive in uncomfortable positions. There’s nothing they can do to faze me.”

McGregor’s theatrics with the microphones were, in part, a reference to his audio cutting out the previous day in Los Angeles, the first stop of their four-city tour promoting a boxing match between the pair billed as “the biggest fight in combat sport history.”

The 28-year-old McGregor, who has a 21-3 professional MMA record and is the reigning lightweight champion, will fight a proper boxing match against Mayweather, 41, who has come out of retirement to put his perfect 49-0 record on the line. After L.A. and Toronto the show rolls on to New York City and London with the actual bout in Las Vegas on Aug. 26.

“Twenty-eight years of age and I’m getting fight cheques and promoter cheques,” said McGregor. “When Floyd was 28, he was on Oscar De La Hoya’s undercard and that’s just facts.”

After McGregor relinquished the microphone Mayweather got his own verbal jabs in, pointing out that his undefeated record spanned 21 years compared to McGregor’s nine years as a pro fighter, only making his UFC debut in 2013.

“One thing we do know, the (expletive) fans can’t fight for you,” said Mayweather to a rain of boos. “We’re not talking about being at the top one year, two years, three years, four years. Twenty-one years!”

A notice of a federal tax lien filed against Mayweather, nicknamed “Money,” on Tuesday still owes $22.2 million in taxes from 2015, the year he earned his biggest payday with a blockbuster fight against Manny Pacquiao.

The lien for 2015 is just the latest in a series of tax liens filed by the IRS against Mayweather over the past decade and it’s an issue that McGregor, and the fans who chanted “Pay your taxes,” didn’t hesitate to bring up at the raucous news conference.

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