In the past week news concerning Mayweather/McGregor has once again flared up in a way that is more than coincidentally well timed. The buzz surrounding this fight had dropped off quite a bit following the world tour as both fighters got into their respective training camps. Now though, just a week away from their August 26th super-fight, levels of media attention and fan intrigue have sky rocketed and not without a purpose.
It all started with an interview on The MMA Hour with 2-Time Boxing World Champion Paulie Malignaggi. Paulie had been brought in to the McGregor camp and by all accounts was used as a promotional tool. He was both out of shape and coming off a long flight when he first stepped in the ring with the Irishman. Rather than the traditional “shark tank” approach to training (employed by most boxers, MMA fighters, and Jiu-Jitsu practitioners) Malignaggi was thrown into deep waters going eight and 12 rounds over two days.
In his tell-all interview, Malignaggi launched into a diatribe against the McGregor camp claiming, not unfairly, that he had been set up. For the SBG/Zuffa/WME-IMG team this episode went entirely as planned. Malignaggi’s pedigree and reputation is all that matters. By claiming McGregor had success against a two-time Boxing Champion, they made it clear that the UFC Lightweight Champion had considerable skills inside the ring and furthered their argument that the Mayweather bout was more competitive than some people think.
Not even Malignaggi would dispute this when he admitted McGregor won rounds and surprised him with his abilities. Then came the lighting rod issue of the knockdown. Malignaggi and the McGregor camp began going back and forth about an alleged knockdown that occurred during the second day of sparring. When Dana White finally released the clip in question the MMA world was shocked. Here was proof that McGregor could more than handle his own against a legitimate boxer.
There still remains some controversy over the alleged knockdown with some claiming it was a push and others claiming it was clean. Be that as it may, another clip emerged from White showing McGregor landing a bludgeoning straight left hand on Malignaggi. While the knockdown is still up for debate the mere fact that he could land a shot like that on someone like Malignaggi gives a lot of people renewed confidence and interest in this bout.
The second revelation in the May/Mac epic is the NAC’s decision to allow eight-ounce gloves instead of the agreed upon 10. Many fans rooting for the “Notorious One” have viewed this as only beneficial for their Irish Messiah. They believe McGregor will be able to punch harder with smaller gloves as they are closer to the four-ounce gloves used in the UFC. They claim that Mayweather needs big gloves to effectively execute his defensive magic and that his brittle hands will be traumatized by the lack of protection.
What these fans fail to realize is that Mayweather has fought all but three of his professional fights using 8-ounce gloves. This change is not the radical act of bravado that many are making it out to be. The smaller gloves will make punches easier to slip (for both men though here the advantage goes to Mayweather) and only helps McGregor in the event that he can actually find his elusive target. The lighter gloves also mean both fighters will be able to throw more punches at faster speeds but again McGregor is the man with the questionable gas tank and so this increased efficiency only helps Mayweather.
Just like the Malignaggi episode, changing glove sizes is ultimately a push (on both Zuffa and Showtime’s part) for media attention and fan interest. All it takes is simply scratching the surface on these issues to realize that absolutely nothing changes. McGregor was able to win a few moments of sparring against an out of shape, and jet-lagged retiree and the NAC changed the glove sizes to the kind Mayweather has been fighting with his entire professional career. Is this really cause for a paradigm shift?
Fans lacking critical thinking do not view events this way though. They see McGregor dominating a world-class boxer in Malignaggi (though they don’t question what happened outside of the short 15 second clips) and the Commission approving gloves that are closer to MMA ones. What this amounts to is more people willing to buy the PayPerView.
It is no coincidence that these events, that appear to narrow the skills gap between Mayweather and McGregor, surfaced just a week before the fight. These likely will not be the last revelations to come to light.
Expect one final blitz of news to emerge in the next week to convert the remaining fence riders into the latest batch of suckers.