Saturday night’s “Money Fight” is expected to be the richest and most lucrative fight in boxing history as Floyd Mayweather Jr. takes on Conor McGregor. But some believe the fight shouldn’t even take place.
More than 100 doctors who make up the Association of Ringside Physicians believe McGregor is thoroughly overmatched in his first pro boxing match against arguably the best boxer of his era.
“We were very surprised this bout was even sanctioned and was going to be permitted to carry on,” Larry Lovelace, president of the association, told the New York Times. “The thing I really fear, truly fear, is that somebody’s going to get really hurt in this upcoming fight.”
The fight is being sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which also granted McGregor his boxing license. The commission’s executive director, Bob Bennett, said McGregor is a premier athlete. Thus, the commission believes he is qualified to be in the ring with someone who has been boxing professionally for 21 years.
“If you’re going to take the position that Conor has never had an amateur or professional fight, then I’m not going to change your mind,” Bennett said. “If you look at him today versus Floyd Mayweather, Conor is the taller, longer, stronger, more powerful opponent. He’s also a southpaw, which makes it a little more difficult for a conventional fighter. He’s 12 years younger than Floyd.”
The ARP also opposes the fact eight-ounce gloves are being used in the fight, which is sanctioned at the 154-pound class. Fights at or above that weight traditionally require 10-ounce gloves. The association believes the lighter gloves pose a safety threat to the fighters.
Richard Steele, a retired Hall of Fame referee who contested 167 title fights in his career, said he would not have sanctioned the fight.
“Here’s a guy from one sport, challenging the world’s best in his own sport — I really don’t know how it’s going to work,” Steele said. “(McGregor) can’t kick. He can’t elbow. He can’t do anything. Nothing that he’s used to doing that makes him a great MMA fighter.”
Of McGregor’s 21 MMA victories, 16 have come via punches in either a knockout or TKO. But in order to get to those victories, McGregor used submissions, kicks, kneebars and other moves that will be barred from his fight with Mayweather.
Steele also said he would be inclined to stop the fight quicker than normal if McGregor appeared to be in trouble.
“I would definitely have it in mind about protecting this kid,” Steele said. “The safety of the fighter is always going to be there. But it might be a little bit more in this fight because this guy’s never been in a boxing ring before.”
In June, Tim Hague, an MMA fighter turned boxer, died after a boxing match against. Adam Braidwood. Hague suffered a brain injury during the fight, which took place in Canada and died at a hospital two days later. Hague had 34 MMA contests leading up to the fight, which was just the fourth boxing match of his career.
Critics believe the Nevada State Athletic Commission sanctioned the Mayweather/McGregor fight due to its financial stake in the bout. The state of Nevada receives eight percent of the gross revenue from the fight, while NSAC gets 25 percent of that amount.
Bennett strongly denied the commission approved the fight for financial reasons and called those claims “totally unfair and simply not true.”