Although the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor showdown is viewed as a one-sided mismatch, it will likely become the biggest event in combat sports history and pay the two combatants involved handsomely for their 36 minutes (or less) of work on Saturday. For the buying public, it doesn’t matter that the 49-0 Mayweather will fight an opponent who doesn’t have a professional boxing match on his resume. It’s simply entertainment.
While the world will be watching and hoping that Mayweather-McGregor entertains, a group of ringside doctors do not see this fight in the same light. As a matter of fact, the Association of Ringside Physicians say that this fight puts McGregor’s health in danger.
“We were very surprised this bout was even sanctioned and was going to be permitted to carry on,” Larry Lovelace, president of the organization, told the The New York Times. “The thing I really fear, truly fear, is that somebody’s going to get really hurt in this upcoming fight.”
That “somebody” they speak of is McGregor, who may have a wealth of mixed martial arts experience but has yet to compete with a professional boxer in a sanctioned fight.
And this concern is not coming without precedent. In June, 34-year-old former MMA fighter Tim Hague suffered fatal injuries against Adam Braidwood in a boxing match that took place in Edmonton, Alberta. It was his fourth boxing match, but Hague was severely outclassed by Braidwood, who ended the fight with a one-punch knockout in the second round. Hague was hospitalized after the fight and died two days later in an Edmonton hospital.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission, who is responsible for sanctioning bouts, doesn’t share the same concern about Mayweather-McGregor. Although it has turned away bouts with inferior opponents in the past, it views many of McGregor’s physical attributes as a means to balance out the wide gap in boxing experience.
“If you look at him today versus Floyd Mayweather, Conor is the taller, longer, stronger, more powerful opponent,” said Bob Bennett, executive director of the commission. “He’s also a southpaw, which makes it a little more difficult for a conventional fighter. He’s 12 years younger than Floyd.”
The NY Times article questions how the Nevada commission may have a financial interest that could be the reason why it sanctioned the fight. 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. And with projections that Mayweather-McGregor will sell over $70 million in tickets, there could be a conflict of interest that allows a bout of this magnitude to take place, regardless of the risk.
Lovelace believes this to be true and frowns upon the NSAC for allowing the bout to take place. But Bennett denied that there was a financial interest that allowed this fight between a pound-for-pound boxing great and a fighter making his pro boxing debut become a reality.
“As a regulator, I take offense to the fact that we’re approving this fight for fiduciary reasons,” Bennett said. “That’s totally unfair, and it’s simply not true.”