While some believe Conor McGregor will hold an edge in punch power over Floyd Mayweather when the pair meet in a Las Vegas boxing ring on Saturday (August 26), Tony Bellew, a professional boxer, is adamant the truth is quite the opposite.

The Liverpudlian won the WBC world cruiserweight title in 2016, has spent time around boxers and mixed martial artists during the course of a ten-year professional career and has listened to the testimonies from both sides. He is, therefore, aware of the differences and he knows which of the two – boxers and mixed martial artists – hit harder with one shot.

“Rampage Jackson trained in Liverpool for a while, sparred a lot with Tony Quigley (a British champion boxer) and said Tony was the hardest puncher he had ever faced in his life,” Bellew told Fighters Only. “Let that sink in. Rampage was a huge star in the UFC at the time and had fought some greats of MMA in America and Japan. He was also seen as one of the biggest pound-for-pound punchers in UFC history. Tony Quigley was a talented boxer but wasn’t even a big puncher in boxing terms. That puts it in perspective.

“Don’t get me wrong, if Mayweather vs. McGregor was in a cage it would be over within a minute. McGregor would grab hold of Mayweather and eat him alive. He’d hurt Floyd with those four-ounce gloves. He’d do damage. But it’s not in a cage, it’s in a boxing ring.

“Everybody says, ‘What if he catches him?’ But, if you say that, you’re basically trying to tell me Conor McGregor hits harder than a prime Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley or Canelo Alvarez. It’s unrealistic. He hasn’t got four-ounce gloves on, he’s got eight-ounce gloves on. He’s going to be in for a shock. He’ll also be shocked by how fast Floyd is. There’s a huge difference between a mixed martial artist’s hands and a boxer’s hands. They are worlds apart.”

But, Tony, did you not see the clip of Mosley wobbling Mayweather in 2010, as per Dana White’s social media accounts?

“You’re talking about one of the greatest lightweights of all-time landing a shot on him,” said Bellew, laughing. “He hit him clean on the button and look how Mayweather reacted. He took the shot and regained his composure very quickly. He didn’t go down. He still dominated the fight. Conor McGregor does not hit anywhere near as hard as Shane Mosley. I’m sorry, he just doesn’t.”

Which begs the question: why should we bother watching Conor McGregor try and fail to land a punch on Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night? According to Bellew, he probably won’t connect at any stage, and, even if he does, the punch or punches will do little damage. Sounds like fun.

Ultimately, though, you just never know.

“I’m a huge Conor McGregor fan and it would be quite funny if he won,” said Bellew. “I’d probably enjoy it.

“Conor has a ton of athletic ability. He’s not just a mouthy guy. He backs it up. He is the real deal. That’s what makes him so special. He can say all this stuff and back it up when it matters. He puts his arse on the line every time and never thinks twice about it. He doesn’t worry about being made to look stupid. You have to admire someone like that.

“I had him written off against Jose Aldo, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t see that coming. Anybody who tells you they saw that coming is a liar. I also thought he’d have problems with Eddie Alvarez and he swept him to the side as well. But, again, this is MMA we’re talking about – this is his home.

“Even in his home he was kind of exposed a bit by Nate Diaz. He was hurt in those two fights and was tired and submitted in the first one. That’s why I’ll be amazed if this fight with Mayweather goes twelve rounds. Conor has found it hard in long-ish fights in the Octagon. He struggled with the pace against Diaz.

“Although he’s getting older, Mayweather’s still going to win any way he wants. He can stand in the pocket and go toe-to-toe with McGregor. He’ll make Conor miss and hurt him with every shot he lands.”

One thing Bellew won’t do is knock the fight. Nor will he take some kind of moral high ground and pretend he won’t be glued to the television in the early hours of Sunday morning (UK time).

“It’s insane to think this fight is happening, but it’s not a joke in my eyes,” said the 34-year-old. “Fair play to both guys. They are going to make an awful lot of money and will propel two sports I love to another level.

“I’ve seen these clowns saying it’s a joke and it shouldn’t happen and it’s bad for boxing, but, really, it’s not. It’s helping boxing and its helping MMA. This is going to do wonders for the profile of both sports. Boxing is back on the front pages of every newspaper in the world and on every news channel in the world. How is that a bad thing?”