Friday 24 January 2020

Floyd Mayweather trying to catch out Conor McGregor with remarkable late rule change

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor faceoff
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor faceoff

Luke Brown

Not for the first time, preparations for Floyd Mayweather’s upcoming super-fight against Conor McGregor have been thrown confusion, after the American boxer attempted to instigate a late rule change to the bout using his Instagram page.

The two met are set to meet on August 26 at the junior-middleweight weight limit of 154-pounds, which means that 10oz boxing gloves are mandatory, as per Nevada State Athletic Commission rules.

However, on Tuesday evening Mayweather took to social media and made an interesting offer: “I’m telling McGregor, ‘let’s fight in 8oz gloves’”, he wrote on his Instagram page.

But why would Mayweather — who hasn’t knocked out an opponent since Victor Ortiz in 2011 and has admitted to suffering from “brittle fists” — want to fight in lighter gloves, something which would appear to favour McGregor?

And what are the Nevada State Athletic Commissions actual rules on the topic?

Here, we attempt to clear up some of the confusion.

What did Mayweather propose?

In his typically understated fashion, Mayweather pictured a plain black image with “MCGREGOR… LET’S FIGHT IN 8 OZ GLOVES” written on it in large white lettering. The caption underneath read:

Don't believe what you hear in the media. Don't believe what you hear on blog sites. If it's not coming directly from me, then it's not true.

I'm telling McGregor, "Let's fight in 8 oz gloves".

"McGregor can fight in any brand he prefers or chooses. I'll be wearing 8 oz Grant gloves.

"Whatever advantage McGregor needs to feel more comfortable in the ring, I'm willing to accommodate. Let's give the boxing and MMA fans what they want to see.

"So, in a nutshell, Mayweather wants to scrap the original plan to wear 10oz gloves so that both men can wear lighter 8oz gloves, instead."

Why is that unusual?

It’s unusual because it was widely assumed that the fight was taking place at the super-middleweight limit — slightly heavier than Mayweather’s ideal weight — precisely because he wanted to fight in the larger 10 oz gloves.

But keen boxing fans will have been most surprised by the third paragraph of the short statement: “McGregor can fight in any brand he prefers or chooses. I'll be wearing 8 oz Grant gloves.”

Assuming the statement is not all an elaborate ruse, that admission represents a remarkable change of approach from Mayweather, who is known for being one of the best prepared (some might even say neurotic) boxers in the business.

The build-up to the Manny Pacquiao fight, for example, was dominated by arguments over what type of gloves would be used, with Mayweather’s representatives controversially contesting the use of Pacquiao's preferred Reyes-manufactured boxing gloves shortly after the weigh-in.

What has McGregor said on the topic?

The Irishman has repeatedly criticised his opponent for his many stipulations on what gloves will be used. In Los Angeles, on the first leg of their promotional tour, he said: "All these rules, all these restrictions, it doesn’t faze me, it amuses me. The gloves. They have to be 10 oz. 154 lbs, he’s never fought at 154, I think he’s fought at 154 maybe once.

"He wants the gloves up, no problem, give him the gloves up. I’ll wear 10 oz. No Mexican made gloves, OK, no problem. No gloves made out of horse hair, no problem, I don’t give a f***.

"We’re only wearing gloves in our game about five years. So I don’t give a s*** about gloves or any of that. I’m just enjoying it. It’s funny to me, all these rules. All I need is a gum shield, line me up to the ring and I’m good to go.

"Later on in that press conference, Mayweather retorted by shouting “If you want 8 oz gloves, let’s put 8 oz gloves on. If you want 4 oz gloves, let’s put 4 oz gloves on.”

McGregor’s response?

“Give me 4 oz gloves then.”

Why does the size of the gloves matter?

The size of the gloves matters a huge deal.

In the sport of mixed martial arts, McGregor is known and respected as one of the greatest knockout artists in the game. His pull-back left-hand counter is regarded by many pundits as the greatest strike in the sport and he has finished the vast majority of his opponents by either KO or TKO.

In the UFC, the promotion McGregor fights for, fighters wear 4 oz gloves. So McGregor’s punching power will naturally be less in the ring than it is in the Octagon.

But wearing 8 oz gloves would suit him far more than wearing 10 oz gloves, which are more than double the weight of the gloves he is accustomed to fighting in.

What has the Nevada State Athletic Commission had to say?

It was initially reported that the Nevada State Athletic Commission had denied there was any possibility of the fight taking place at the junior-middleweight weight limit with both men wearing 8 oz gloves.

“These regulations are in place for the health and safety of the athletes, which is of the utmost importance to the commission," the Nevada commission executive director Bob Bennett told ESPN on Tuesday night. “Our regulations already outline the appropriate glove size according to contracted weight of a fight.”

However, the Nevada State Athletic Commission rules clarify that it is possible the fight can take place with 8 oz gloves.

According to the rules, "athletes (boxers/kick boxers) weighing-in up to and including 135 pounds must wear 8 oz gloves in competition, while athletes weighing-in over 135 pounds (junior welterweight class and above) must wear 10 oz gloves in competition. However, athletes weighing-in over 135 but (no) more than 147 may wear 8 oz gloves in competition if both athletes agree to do so in writing on their bout agreement (contract).”

So, the late rule change is possible should both men agree to the change in writing.

What’s going to happen?

Who knows? But should the Nevada State Athletic Commission agree to the rule change, expect McGregor to bite Mayweather’s hand off. And expect the already fluctuating odds on the fight to change wildly yet again.

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