By Alan Dawson
Michael Reaves / Getty Images
Dana White (middle) has steered Conor McGregor into sporting super-stardom.
UFC president Dana White has set out the things that will make or break a boxing rules fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.
Speaking to Fox Sports 1 show “The Herd,” White said a deal remains a long way off, but is hopeful an agreement can be brokered in the coming weeks, once he “locks” himself “in a room with Team Mayweather.”
White seemed to touch on four key areas that will define the negotiations. Let’s go through them one by one.
1. The money
White is targeting a $75 million payday for McGregor if he steps in the ring with Mayweather. The American boxer, meanwhile, could pocket $100 million, according to White.
There is little doubt that Irish UFC star McGregor is the pay-per-view attraction in mixed martial arts. His popularity is unlike anything seen before in the history of the UFC and the 28-year-old fully understands his worth.
McGregor, though, has a long way to go until he catches Floyd Mayweather who remains the main money man in combat sports.
The unbeaten American’s victory over Manny Pacquiao was said to have earned him close to $200 million and when he hung up his gloves after defeating Andre Berto, Forbes claimed his career in boxing had made him $700 million richer.
2. The gloves
MMA gloves and boxing gloves are completely different. The former are open-fingered to allow submissions and typically weigh four ounces.
Boxing gloves can vary in weight from eight ounces to 10. They are closed, have a lot of padding, and can make an effective shield to block or deflect incoming punches.
“In boxing, you negotiate things like gloves,” White said.
The weight of the glove is significant. McGregor is used to fighting a maximum of five, five-minute rounds while wearing four-ounce gloves.
To suddenly transition to 12, three-minute round fights while wearing heavier gloves would require a complete change in training.
Mayweather is used to eight-ounce gloves but used 10-ounce gloves for his two fights at light middleweight. Heavier gloves favour Floyd. He may insist they weigh 10 ounces.
Note the difference in shape and size of MMA gloves (left) and boxing gloves (right).
3. The ring
It’s not just the weight of the glove that can affect a fighter’s performance but also the size of the ring they compete in.
McGregor is used to 750 square foot Octagon (or cage). It usually measures 30 feet across and six feet high. Boxing rings, in contrast, can vary from 16 to 24 square foot.
“We have to negotiate how big the ring is,” White made clear on Fox.
Even a difference of two to four square foot can significantly impact a fight. For example, in one of boxing’s great bouts, the 1987 classic between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler, Leonard relinquished the lion’s share of his earnings to have 10-ounce gloves and a 20-foot ring, both of which favoured his fighting style.
Leonard beat Hagler with a unanimous decision. Had the ring been smaller to favour Hagler, would the outcome have been different? Who knows.
4. The officials
Deciding who referees and judges the fight will be critical, White said.
Three judges sit on different sides of the ring and independently score each round of the fight. If there is no knockout or stoppage then the result depends on the judges’ scorecards.
Al Bello / Getty Images
Floyd is a master at making them miss and making them pay.
The stench caused by C.J Ross’s “draw” score for Floyd Mayweather vs Saul Alvarez in 2013 shows how wrong judges can get it, given the fight was clearly a thumping victory for Mayweather. C.J Ross later left boxing.
Avoiding incompetent judges is, therefore, imperative in a fight of this magnitude. It sounds so simple, but it is something boxing often gets wrong.
With an American and an Irishman in the ring together it would make sense to have one American judge, one Irish judge and one neutral judge. What they all must have in common, though, is extensive championship-level judging experience with few, if any, questionable scorecards on their record.
In the UFC, White has a working relationship with all his fighters and though some negotiations will have been tougher than others, he has never worked with a free agent with a name value as big as Mayweather.
“I wanted to get McGregor locked in first,” White said. “McGregor is [the one] under contract with me. I don’t even think this fight makes sense but Conor wants it real bad so I’ll figure it out.”
There’s a simple reason for that too: McGregor sells.
“Conor has stepped up and saved some big fights for me and one thing this brand has always done is bring people the fights they want to see,” White said. “People want to see this fight and I’m going to do my best to get it done.”
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