Chill, McGregor Fans: 8-Ounce Gloves Give Him No Extra Advantage vs. Mayweather

Lyle FitzsimmonsFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 11:  UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor hits an uppercut bag during a media workout at the UFC Performance Institute on August 11, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor will fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena on August 26 in Las Vegas.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It was the permission slip heard 'round the world.

When the Nevada Athletic Commission approved an appeal from the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor camps Wednesday that'll allow the fighters to use eight-ounce gloves for their imminent get-together in Las Vegas, those backing the Irishman puffed their chests out proudly.

Despite the safety-centric concerns of the Association of Ringside Physicians, the commission agreed to set aside the requirement—on a one-time-only basis—that 154-pound fighters use 10-ounce gloves. And because the eight-ounce mitts are a mite closer to the four-ouncers McGregor has used while building a fearsome reputation in the UFC's Octagon, it's been spun as a victory for Team Notorious.

But before you tap out the 401(k) for some extra pro-Conor betting cash, here's a tip:

Don't.

Because once the bell rings, it won't mean a thing.

Need a reason why? Consider the source.

John Locher/Associated Press

Remember that the suggestion for the glove switch came on Instagram from Mayweather himself, and after a two-decade run in which he's staked out A-side high ground on nearly every negotiable item, it’s not exactly in his nature to make things easier on the guy he's stepping in with.

He is, though, a savvy businessman and promoter, and he's smart enough to realize the appearance of a concession—even a competitively meaningless one—is a gesture well delivered if it convinces even one casual viewer that it's worth dropping $89.95 to see if an upset is more possible come Aug. 26.

In fact, the glove charity seems just the latest suggestion of vulnerability for the man known as Money, who indicated at a recent media workout that McGregor will arrive with myriad advantages.

"I know I'm going to see a fighter, a warrior," Mayweather said. "I'm not going to overlook him. On paper, everything leans toward Conor McGregor. We know he's taller, we know he has a longer reach, we know youth is on his side, everyone is saying power is on his side. I never said he's going to beat me. I'm going to tell the people what I truly believe and what it is on paper."

Upon further review, though, it reeks of nonsense.

While few would argue that McGregor is the power guy in the fight, simply dropping a little glove weight won't make it any easier for him to crack the Mayweather defensive code that's bamboozled championship-caliber boxers from 130 to 154 pounds. And even at 40 years old and coming off a two-year layoff, it's no stretch to say an old Floyd remains a quantum leap superior to the sparring partners—Chris van Heerden and Paulie Malignaggi—the MMA star has clearly struggled to subdue.

This kinder Mayweather comes just in time to revive a publicity machine that glowed white-hot as the fighters kicked off their international press tour, which veered toward juvenile and offensive as the chatter campaign continued unedited from Los Angeles to Toronto to Brooklyn to London.

Recent reports of flagging ticket sales haven't helped, perhaps motivating Mayweather toward additional allowances that would boost McGregor's chances in the minds of fans. One of the reasons for the glove concession was to increase the perception that this fight could have a violently fan-friendly result.

"When it's something of this magnitude, this is not just a fight," Mayweather said.

"This is an event. I think we both owe the fans, as well as the public and everyone tuning in, excitement. I can say that after the fight is over on Aug. 26, everyone is going to be happy."

No one more so than the respective fighters' tax attorneys.

But when it comes to a real change in the competitive dynamic, it's a bunch of blarney.