When Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights Conor McGregor on August 26th in Las Vegas, NV, the bout won’t just be a slap in the face to the conventions of boxing matchmaking. The fight will also mark a step away from the rules regarding equipment, or more specifically glove size.
Nevada regulations state that, in fights at or above the light-middleweight limit (147 lbs), combatants cannot use gloves weighing less than 10oz. Mayweather vs. McGregor will go ahead using 8oz gloves – as approved by the state athletic commission – and will do so in part at Mayweather’s request.
But, is that what the all-time boxing great intended when he extended the offer to McGregor over social media? UFC commentator Dan Hardy doesn’t think so. Before the commission approved the lighter gloves, Hardy theorized on the MMA Hour that the only reason Mayweather made the offer was because he knew it wouldn’t actually happen. (transcript via MMA Fighting)
“It’s like all this nonsense about the eight-ounce gloves,” Hardy said, dismissing Mayweather’s prediction of an aggressive display, on the latest episode of The MMA Hour.
“He knows that the process in which he would have to go through to get the eight-ounce gloves approved is far too strenuous at the this point in the build up to the fight.
“All that is doing is teasing Conor with the idea that Conor is coming for a fight because he wants Conor to be fired up when he walks out. It’s all the psychological tactics that Floyd uses.
“The difference in this fight is that normally the first game plan that he sets out with in the build up, it usually works. It usually works because he’s got this promotional monster behind him, which is Mayweather Promotions.”
So what’s the difference? As Jason Thalken – author of Fight Like a Physicist: The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts – explains, via Twitter:
Larger gloves protect against broken bones in the hands and face, cuts, etc, but larger gloves do nothing to protect against damage to the brain. If anything, the weight and form factor add (a little) to the risk.
– Because larger gloves protect the hands, the fighters can put more force behind their punches.
– Because larger gloves protect the face, a fight is less likely to stop early, leaving more time for brain damage.
All together, the heavier gloves protect the hands and face better at the expense of the brain.
One last note of interest – I believe Conor has a better chance with lighter gloves because he throws punches uniquely. Most fighters aim, throw a punch, and re-calibrate it 100 ms into the punch. This is typical human aiming.
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Chances are, you undershot or overshot, then corrected at the end. Now try it again, being deliberate and slow, constantly re-calibrating. I can’t be sure, but from watching Conor’s punches, I think he does the latter method of constant calibration, which is unusual. It requires sustained engagement from his arm muscles, which makes him slower, but probably helps him land punches more accurately as well.
I tested arm speed by glove weight, and saw a 30% reduction for 12oz vs. bare knuckles, so heavy gloves would probably hurt him a lot.
And none of that takes into account Mayweather’s own long history of hand injuries. Kostas Fantaousakis pointed out in his recent breakdown of Mayweather’s style that Mayweather’s hands have been an ongoing problem in his boxing career, and potentially one of the reasons he rarely looks to knock opponents out. Although Mayweather has been using 8oz gloves for the majority of his career, so this won’t be any increased risk to him.
Eventually, none of this changes the basic facts that Mayweather is likely the best boxer of his generation and that McGregor is, by most reasonable standards, very much a novice to the sport. But it could be that ‘Money’ handed his opponent a real leg up that he never intended.