LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor got their wish to fight in smaller gloves, but not before being chastised by a Nevada boxing official for using the issue to hype their fight later this month.
Nevada boxing regulators on Wednesday gave the two fighters an exemption to a rule requiring 10-ounce gloves for fights at 154 pounds, approving 8-ounce gloves for the Aug. 26 bout. Representatives of both fighters appeared before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to request the waiver.
Commissioners also approved veteran referee Robert Byrd as the third man in the ring for the fight.
Commission Chairman Anthony Marnell said he was comfortable with the fighters using smaller gloves, but unhappy that they used the issue to sell the fight on social media.
“I do not like the Nevada State Athletic Commission being used as a pawn in a social media battle,” Marnell said.
Under Nevada regulations, 10-ounce gloves are required in fights above 147 pounds and the bout is set for 154 pounds. But Mayweather has worn 8-ounce gloves most of his career, and McGregor has worn 4-ounce gloves in his UFC fights.
McGregor said the gloves will only speed up the end of the fight, which he earlier predicted wouldn’t last four rounds.
“I believe now that gloves are eight ounces I don’t believe he makes it out of the second round,” McGregor said. “I do not see him absorbing the blows in the first two rounds.”
Mayweather’s promoter, Leonard Ellerbe, said his fighter is also more comfortable in smaller gloves and would use them to stop McGregor.
“The fight is going to end in a knockout, I’m very confident,” Ellerbe said. “And it will probably be early.”
McGregor will be in a boxing ring for the first time as a pro when he takes on Mayweather, who is coming out of retirement for a fight that will make him tens of millions of dollars. They will fight under boxing rules, which will be enforced by Byrd, a veteran of many championship fights.
“The referee makes a big difference in this fight, which is the specific reason I chose Robert Byrd,” said Bob Bennett, the commission’s executive director.
Commissioners also approved Burt Clements and Dave Moretti of the United States and Italy’s Guido Cavalleri as judges for the bout. McGregor’s camp had asked for an international judge among the three.
Byrd will be paid $25,000 for the bout, while the judges will make $20,000.
The glove issue took up much of the commission meeting, though in the end all voted in favor of the smaller gloves. There was also discussion about the padding in the gloves, with both sides agreeing to be bound by Nevada boxing inspectors approving the foam padding.
Mayweather has fought 46 of his 49 fights with 8-ounce gloves, including his last six. McGregor has never boxed before, but quickly agreed to Mayweather’s challenge on social media to fight in smaller gloves.
UFC chief Dana White echoed McGregor in saying the smaller gloves will make a difference in the fight.
“It affects the fight big time,” White said. “When we were in our original negotiations it was something they would not even talk about. I don’t know what changed but I’m glad it did. It makes it so much more fun.”
Commissioners said they struggled with making an exception to regulations in place since 2006, but decided to approve the waiver because of the unusual nature of the event.
“The fight is not normal,” said commissioner Sandra Morgan.
John Hornewer, an attorney for Mayweather, said the unbeaten boxer would likely not be at the 154-pound limit at the fight weigh-in anyway.
“He’ll be 150 pounds. That’s his best weight and there’s no reason to put on extra weight,” Hornewer said.
A McGregor representative said his fighter has been about 160 pounds in training camp and would likely enter the ring somewhere around that weight after making the 154-pound limit the day before.