Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor were unanimously granted “a one-fight exception” Wednesday by the Nevada Athletic Commission to fight using lighter eight-ounce gloves for their unique Aug. 26 boxing match in Las Vegas.
Additionally, veteran referee Robert Byrd was named the third man in the ring for the bout that matches the 49-0, former five-division boxing champion Mayweather against the UFC champion McGregor in his pro boxing debut.
The commission, on the recommendation of Executive Director Bob Bennett, also selected Burt A. Clements, Dave Moretti and Italy’s Guido Cavalerri as judges.
Byrd previously worked Mayweather’s one-sided and uneventful unanimous-decision victory over Robert Guerrero in May 2013.
This bout is expected to be a far greater challenge for the referee, considering that McGregor is making his pro boxing debut and the possibility that he could turn to the rougher fighting techniques employed in the UFC.
The decision on the gloves came after both fighters lobbied for a change from a 2006 rule adopted as a safety measure that stipulates 10-ounce gloves for fights above 154 pounds. Bulkier, higher-weight gloves are believed to soften the impact of more forceful punches. McGregor has said he will likely weigh as much as 170 pounds on fight night.
One commissioner, Skip Avansino, said despite the fact that “that’s the rule,” there has been no scientific study on why 10-ounce gloves are needed for 154-pound fights, and said an adjustment can be “reconsidered by this unprecedented fight.”
Chairman Anthony Marnell III said, “My biggest concern is I don’t like the Nevada commission being used as a pawn in a social-media battle,” that occurred between the two fighters. “If you cut a deal for a fight with this much money, you should get it right.”
Marnell said he wanted commissioners to screen the gloves as part of launching a new study to consider if 8-ounce gloves can be used in future 154-pound fights.
McGregor wanted gloves nearer in size to the 4-ounce gloves he uses as a UFC fighter, believing his punching power will be more effective.
“I’m strong enough to give him two rounds,” in eight-ounce gloves, McGregor said. “The only reason [Mayweather] can get to the second round is because in this game the referee gives him time to recover [with an eight-count] without getting his head pounded into the canvas. That’s the only reason he might make it to the second round.”
In the fight contract, Mayweather requested “no Mexican-made gloves, no gloves made of horsehair, only 10-ounce. I didn’t even know the difference,” McGregor said. “I didn’t really care. Now he’s pushing for the 8-ounce. Great.”
Mayweather has said the 8-ounce gloves will give him more punching power, as well, which could enhance his chances of posting his first knockout victory since 2011.
McGregor’s representative said at Wednesday’s meeting that he believes “there is no inherent risk to the health and safety” of the Irishman by fighting Mayweather in 8-ounce gloves. The representative said McGregor has trained exclusively in 10-ounce gloves.
The McGregor representative said the gloves will not be Mexican-made or contain any horsehair.
Nevada Commissioner J. Daniel Carpenter, said, “We want great entertainment, but we want the health and safety of the fighters, first and foremost,” noting a recent MMA fighter’s death, but also expressing trust in a referee like Byrd to stop punishment that could endanger either fighter.
“This is a hybrid fight. An individual who’s never stepped foot in a boxing ring against one of the best … boxers ever.”
If the fight goes the distance, the outcome will be decided by the judges, including Moretti, who’s judged 10 Mayweather fights since 2005.
Moretti has been favorable to Mayweather in two of his most compelling bouts, awarding him a wide 118-110 (10 rounds to two) advantage in the record-setting 2015 bout against Manny Pacquiao, and giving Mayweather eight rounds in what was seen as a more narrow decision over Marcos Maidana in their first 2014 fight.
Cavalerri was added to the mix to fulfill a request by McGregor’s camp to have one international judge as part of the panel.
Clements has worked four Mayweather fights, including the victories over Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009.