By Andreas Hale
Much has been made about the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to allow 8oz gloves to be worn by Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor ahead of their August 26th showdown in Las Vegas. The immediate reaction was that a smaller glove gives McGregor a significant advantage. McGregor himself stated that he fully expects to finish Mayweather inside of two rounds because of the distinct power advantage he thinks he will have when the two step into the ring.
To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth.
For starters, a smaller glove doesn’t automatically make McGregor a better boxer. And without the technique, landing that big punch that he’s expecting to put Mayweather down is going to be a challenge. Over the course of his career, Mayweather has proved to be elusive. He reduced Hurricane Pacquiao to landing a mere 89 punches over the course of 12 rounds.
For all those who suggest that all it takes is one punch to change the outcome of a fight, that is true. However, that punch needs to land clean. In Mayweather’s case, he’s rarely been hit by a clean shot. “Sugar” Shane Mosley caught him twice, Marcos Maidana landed a shot that buzzed him, Demarcus Corley also rocked Mayweather. Both Miguel Cotto and Zab Judah had their moments. But the fact that you can count on one hand the number of times that Mayweather has been caught clean with a hard shot should tell you all that you need to know. More importantly, these are former champions and future hall of famers that we’re talking about. McGregor has yet to compete in a professional boxing match.
Not to mention, Mayweather knows exactly what to do when somebody lands a punch, as evidenced by his fight with Mosley in 2010. Mosley infamous rocked Mayweather with a right hand and followed it with another, but before his opponent could close in for the finish, Mayweather effectively tied him up, cleared his head and made sure that Mosley would never get a chance to land that right hand again.
As Mayweather continues to train, McGregor is continuing to learn about the sport that he will be competing in professionally for the first time. Everything regarding traps, spacing, clinch work and defense (especially defense) are things that McGregor will attempt to put to work against the greatest defensive boxer of this generation. The likelihood that gloves that are 2oz smaller mean absolutely nothing if McGregor is unable to land one of his lauded left hands.
If anything, the gloves benefit Floyd Mayweather. For one, Mayweather is used to fighting in 8oz gloves, as he has done for much of his career fighting at the welterweight limit and under. It’s Mcgregor who will have to adjust from fingerless 4oz gloves to padded 8oz gloves. And as much as McGregor says that Mayweather needs to be concerned with what he’ll be throwing at him, it’s how McGregor deals with what’s coming back to him that sets up the most intrigue for the fight.
In the world of mixed martial arts, there are a number of ways that a fighter can win. This is a challenge for any individual as they are unsure if their opponent is going to shoot for a takedown, throw a leg kick, a overhand right or a flying knee. But in boxing, defending punches is all that a fighter has to worry about. For McGregor, he’s never really had to specialize in defense and stopping punches from hitting him to the face and body. What will he do when Mayweather masks the straight right hand or whips it to the body? Will he know how to defend the different angles that Mayweather’s punches will be arriving from? And as much as Mayweather has been criticized for his lack of knockout power, every fighter who has faced him has said that those punches hurt. We’re not entirely sure how McGregor will deal with the accumulation of punches over the course of 12 rounds (or less). And if Mayweather is landing at a high clip as the rounds go on, who will benefit more from the smaller gloves?
This is all ultimately yet another ploy that has the uneducated public believing that McGregor has a chance to win. Mayweather knows this and has conceded that he doesn’t want to give his opponent the opportunity to come up with any excuses. But beneath the surface of those comments, Mayweather is grinning from ear to ear knowing that this concession isn’t really one at all. But it sounds good. And the more reasons that you give the betting public a reason to bet on McGregor, the more likely it is that it will increase the PPV buys on fight night. It’s clear that there is a strong contingency of fans who want to see McGregor win and believe that his power and size, coupled with smaller gloves will make a difference. But these perceived advantages don’t really have much to offer when technique is key.
Nevertheless, it surely makes for an interesting storyline for casual fans to follow.