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Mayweather vs McGregor: Glove Size Matters, But Not For Power

If you have been following along with the pre-fight drama of the Mayweather vs McGregor fight, you will know that glove size has been a topic of discussion from the outset. Because the fight was set at the super welterweight weight class of 147lbs-154lbs, the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission mandate that fighters use ten ounce boxing gloves.

During the first press conference to open this fight, Conor McGregor made sure to highlight this stipulation to rile up his fans at how Mayweather needed to be protected from his devastating power. After the press tour ended Floyd, showing the promotional skills that made him the biggest fighter in the world, issued a challenge to McGregor on social media to join with him in requesting to change the gloves to eight ounces.

“A bluff!” cried the ever-so-smart pundits. “Floyd knows the commission won’t allow this horrendous challenge to the sanctity of fighter safety!”. But Floyd did inquire with the commission about changing the gloves and knew it could be done by the issuance of a waiver before he made his post. So the request was scheduled, both fighters made their case and despite the caution of the Association of Ringside Physicians, the NSAC approved the request.

An uproar soon followed from the pundits, such as  Luke Thomas where he proclaimed that in an embarrassing move the NSAC was sacrificing the regulations in the name of money. He also asks if there is no scientific basis for the glove size, why do they have the rules in the first place?

The NSAC adopted their glove rule based on a recommendation from the Association of Ringside Physicians. But ARP had no scientific evidence behind this claim and a proposed study to determine if there was a difference was never done. There are many things in sports that have never been proven to be effective but were adopted none-the-less. It is just a quirk of human nature.

But in all the following bluster about how the commission was risking the lives of the combatants for the sake of money when they changed the gloves, no one thought to ask an actual glove manufacturer their thoughts on the decision. So let me introduce Russ Anber.

In his almost forty years of being involved with the sport Russ has worked as a trainer, cutman and even television host. If you’re a boxing fan, you probably have seen Russ working a corner even if you don’t know his name. He was most recently misidentified as Vasyl Lomachenko’s father when ESPN showed Loma warming up before the Marriaga fight.

Among his many talents, Russ is also the founder of Rival boxing gear. He supplies the gloves for many top fighters including Anthony Joshua, Lomachenko, Keith Thurman and others. He is part of the Canadian sports channel coverage and he gave his take on what impact the gloves would have on the fight.

TSN doesn’t like easily shared links and it has vanished in the void since I first wrote this story but Russ states that the knuckle padding is the same thickness between the eight ounce and ten ounce gloves. There is no effective difference for delivering strikes. The weight difference is in extra material, not extra padding. What the ten ounce glove allows for is better defense as it’s a longer and wider glove because of the two additional ounces of material.

Which is exactly the reason Floyd wanted the smaller glove. Floyd is a fighter who has mastered the ability to deliver a single power punch instead of using combinations to land his desired blow like traditional boxers. He doesn’t want Conor to be able to cover up and use the larger glove to help block the holes that Floyd will be looking for to shoot his power shots through.

The McGregor camp have talked solely about Conor’s offense and how they will walk Floyd down and they publicly have given no regard for defense. And defense is something Conor has issues with as he boasts one of the lower strike defenses in the UFC. The McGregor camp only view the smaller gloves as something that benefits them, and have pronounced that Floyd has made a critical error in choosing the smaller glove. They seemingly haven’t thought about what it does for Mayweather.

Floyd even made a point to highlight defense in a veiled statement at the final press conference when he said, “If you give it you must be able to take it”.

When people look back on the careers of fighters, it’s only the end results that tend to be viewed. Records can be summoned instantaneously and fights can be replayed. But for Floyd, some of his finest work has been done in the build-ups. People may argue about his place among the greats of the sport but his understanding of fighter psychology has no equal. He has created endless advantages for himself by leveraging the egos of his opponents. And it’s fitting that in his final fight he pulled one last trick out of his bag to give himself an edge.

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