Mayweather vs. McGregor: How a Ringside Doctor Might Save Conor from Injury

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2017

Conor McGregor poses on the scale during a weigh-in Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in Las Vegas for his Saturday boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Combat athletes are not like the average person.

They're millionaires—sometimes billionaires—who spend their prizefighting days racing clock and calendar to make as much money as they can before body and mind betray them. It's an arduous lifestyle that most people could never stand.

Doctors, similarly, are not like the average person.

They're devoted professionals who spend their days in clinics and labs, researching and enacting best practices in the name of improving and extending human life. It, too, is an arduous lifestyle that most people could never stand.

Needless to say, when the interests of combat athletes and doctors intersect, opinions and conclusions diverge. Such is the case leading into Saturday night's megafight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor.

Earlier this week, the Association of Ringside Physicians gave notice that it is not only concerned about the merits of the Mayweather-McGregor extravaganza, but it's so concerned that it considers McGregor to be more or less in mortal peril simply by entering the ring.

On its face, that's reasonable: Mayweather is a master of the squared circle's refined violence, 49-0 and rarely ever mussed with an opponent's glove in that time. McGregor is 0-0 as a boxer, an experienced hand-fighter in MMA but one who has earned his crack at Mayweather more through drawing power than dropping boxers.

Whether or not the ARP is correct is one thing, but what its members might do on Saturday night is another. A ringside physician has a role to play in any combat sports event, and the message is already clear in this one: McGregor will not be unduly harmed on their watch.

How might that look once the athletes are in the ring?

You can rest assured the referee and ringside physician will have a particularly shrewd eye on McGregor throughout the night, and if there are signs of trouble, they'll be calling the whole thing off. Those signs might include loss of coordination, spacey looks or hastily devolving technical acumen, among other things.

You can rest assured the Nevada State Athletic Commission, already with the cash in its coffers thanks to Mayweather and his money-printing promotional machine, will back the decision 100 percent. With the money made through chaining McGregor to Andre Ward somehow and randomly approving eight-ounce gloves for a 154-pound fight, now would be the time to say they're not interested in seeing a fighter get hurt in their jurisdiction.

You can rest assured Mayweather, a beloved citizen to Nevada bureaucrats for that very tendency to make money for the state, will be complimentary to his opponent for being so willful while being so outclassed. He'll ride into the sunset with 50 straight boxing wins, an unprecedented number for an underappreciated craftsman, and count his dollars all the way to his strip club.

(Warning: Video contains some NSFW language)

And you can rest assured McGregor would be outraged, no matter how reasonable a decision to stop the fight for medical reasons is in the moment, because he is a combat athlete, and a combat athlete would do just about anything to avoid having the fight taken from them—another reminder they are not like the average person.

Yet in the face of it all, the doctor and his or her backers at the ARP won't bat an eyelash.

There will be no comment on Mayweather's grace or McGregor's mettle, only the act of intervening in the best interest of a party in trouble and too stubborn to pull the rip cord for themselves.

McGregor might well have taken the fight against Mayweather in the name of "Bruce Lee s--t," as he sneered at a press conference this week. On fight night, though, if it goes as badly as the worst prognostications fear, it may end up looking like he took it in the name of having more guts than brains.

That's why the ARP has a voice and why a doctor will be there with the power to stop the whole spectacle.

It's immense power, and it's a voice that must be heard above all others.

       

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