Saturday’s anticipated bout between undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor promises to be a box office smash. However, members of the Association of Ringside Physicians believe that the fight is a mismatch and that McGregor could be in physical danger, The New York Times reported.
The group comprises more than 100 ringside doctors with decades of experience in handling major fights.
“We were very surprised this bout was even sanctioned and was going to be permitted to carry on,” said Larry Lovelace, a doctor and the president of the organization, which is focused on preserving fighter safety. “The thing I really fear, truly fear, is that somebody’s going to get really hurt in this upcoming fight.”
In June, Tim Hague, 34, a mixed martial artist turned boxer, sustained fatal injuries against Adam Braidwood in Edmonton, Alberta. It was Hague’s fourth professional boxing match after competing in 34 MMA fights.
While McGregor, 29, compiled a 21-3 record in mixed martial arts, in which the rules allow him to use his feet and wrestle opponents to the ground, the Nevada State Athletic Commission decided that he was simply a premier athlete who belonged in the ring with Mayweather, who is 49-0.
“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,” Bob Bennett, the executive director of the commission, told the Times. “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.”
Hall of Fame referee Richard Steele said he was not sure he would have sanctioned the bout.
“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 told the Times. “McGregor can’t kick. He can’t elbow. He can’t do nothing. Nothing that he’s used to doing that makes him a great MMA fighter.”
The Nevada boxing commission has a particularly large financial stake in the Mayweather-McGregor bout, the Times reported. The state receives 8 percent of the gross revenue from every ticket sold at a boxing event in Nevada, and the commission gets 25 percent of that amount.
According to Leonard Ellerbe, the chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, and Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, more than $60 million in tickets have been sold for the fight, which means Nevada stands to receive in excess of $4.8 million, with the athletic commission’s cut topping $1.2 million.
McGregor and Mayweather will wear eight-ounce gloves for their middleweight bout instead of the 10-ounce gloves typically mandated for fighters in the 154-pound weight class.
“I don’t think that’s the commission’s role, to try to affect the fight, or to try to affect ticket sales,” Lovelace told the Times.
Bennett denied that the commission was putting its finances ahead of fighter safety.
“As a regulator, I take offense to the fact that we’re approving this fight for fiduciary reasons,” he told the Times. “That’s totally unfair, and it’s simply not true.”
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