Tuesday 21 January 2020

This is why Floyd Mayweather fighting Conor McGregor in 8oz gloves is such a controversial decision

Conor McGregor training in Vegas
Conor McGregor training in Vegas

Luke Brown

To the casual fan, it might not sound a particularly significant development. On Wednesday, at their rather stuffy monthly meeting, the Nevada State Athletic Commission granted both Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor an exemption to fight in 8oz - rather than 10oz - boxing gloves.

So far, so normal. Right?

Wrong. "This affects the fight big time," said Dana White, the larger than life president of the UFC. And for once he wasn't exaggerating.

He added: “When we were in our original negotiations it was something they would not even talk about. I don't know what changed, but I'm glad it did. It makes it so much more fun.”

While it may make the fight more fun – most pundits seem united in the belief that the lighter gloves increase the chance of McGregor landing a fortuitous knockout blow on 40-year-old Mayweather – it also makes the fight more dangerous.

In 2006, the Nevada commission adopted new safety regulations that call for 8oz gloves in fights at 147 pounds (welterweight) and below, and 10oz gloves for anything above that. And although there is not yet any hard medial evidence about the effects of getting hit with smaller gloves, that rule had not once been flouted.

Until this week.

In fact, it makes the fight so dangerous that the respected Association of Ringside Physicians actually wrote to the Nevada State Athletic Commission urging them not to grant the two men an exemption.

“The Association of Ringside Physicians understands that consideration is being given to amend current regulations, and in so doing, permit the use of 8oz Gloves in the forthcoming boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor,” their letter, which can be seen below, says.

“This is a bout that has already been set at a specific weight class. Unless there is scientific evidence to support the view that such a change might improve the safety of this bout, we would strongly caution against allowing current regulation to be over-ruled.

“To do so would also set a precedent for future bouts.”

Did the Nevada State Athletic Commission listen to the letter? Did they heck. Just hours later they unanimously approved a “one-time waiver” for 8oz gloves to be worn, choosing to ignore the advice of medical professionals who felt that the health and safety of both Mayweather and McGregor is being endangered unnecessarily.

NAC chairman Anthony Marnell did have a warning for the two men upon granting them their exemption, but it was nothing to do with the weight of the gloves. “I do not like the Nevada State Athletic Commission being used as a pawn in a social media bout,” he growled.

“Between these two, that part of this request p***** me off. This body is not the subject of two fighters to create social media stir and other controversy to sell tickets and to sell DirecTV.” It would appear keeping up appearances is more important than longstanding safety regulations.

Unsurprisingly,  the Association of Ringside Physicians were left deflated by the decision. “We hated to see them break their own rules and regulations kind of arbitrarily,” Dr. Larry Lovelace, who heads the association and is also on the Oklahoma State Boxing Commission, told the Associated Press.

“It seemed almost capricious to change from 10 ounces, which is the prescribed weight of gloves for that weight class.”

And so, having been roundly criticised for sanctioning the fight in the first place, the commission now finds itself under further scrutiny for approving a potentially dangerous late rule change.

Can the fight itself possibly guarantee enough excitement to justify the Nevada State Athletic Commission gambling their entire reputation? That remains to be seen.

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