Conor McGregor has pleaded with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to allow Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder to square up to each other at the weigh-in.
As is customary before big fights, fighters attempt to get the measure of their opponent in the traditional final stare down, but a shoving match at Wednesday’s press conference has forced the unprecedented move of scrapping a penultimate day head-to-head between Fury and Wilder.
“The actions of the two fighters pushing each other, which was not staged, is not indicative of the image of our sport as a major league sport, thus having a face-off is not in the best interest in the health and safety of the fighters, the public and the event,” NSAC executive director Bob Bennett said.
UFC star McGregor, who has fought in Las Vegas on several occasions and has had many confrontations on stage before major fights has suggested ways to manage Friday’s weigh-in.
“Guys, please relax here,” he tweeted.
“Vegas commission, you are one of thee best commissions, bar none, for impeccably handling events of unpredictability. Place men between the men. Security on stage. Let them get one last look at each other. The last look before it’s really f***ing on.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef, meanwhile, said he was shocked by the decision to scrap the stare down.
“In my 25 years in boxing, I’ve never heard of an administrative body stepping in and prohibiting a faceoff,” he said.
“It’s the pinnacle moment before the fight. I am just shocked. That’s the money shot and not having that is frustrating.”
However, Bob Arum, DuBoef’s stepdad and Fury’s co-promoter, said he supported the move, saying the team have not done their jobs if the rematch depends on the face-off to sell it.
“They will take pictures, just no faceoff,” he told ESPN.
“This commission realises because of ESPN and Fox that boxing is back as a major sport and we’re not going to f*** it up by having these guys push each other or fight each other at a weigh-in.
“It doesn’t happen in the NFL, or Major League Baseball or the NBA where you have the athletes pushing and shoving before their contest. Boxing is now a major sport and we will conduct ourselves like one.”
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has banned Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury from facing off after they weigh in on Friday afternoon.
All because of some handbags at the press conference?!!
What a load of utter rubbish.
— Adam Catterall (@AdamCatterall) February 20, 2020
The animosity between the pair appears real given that when the TV cameras stopped rolling during an advert break, both Fury and Wilder could not stop insulting each other.
In the world of boxing, predictions are split as to who will win, with Anthony Joshua, Mike Tyson and Canelo backing Fury to win, while Manny Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia and David Haye predicting Wilder will retain his crown.
Both men have recorded victories since they last met, but Wilder scored two knockouts while Fury laboured to a victory over Otto Wallin and suffered a truly gruesome cut above his eye in the process.
There are concerns that if Wilder catches him on that scar, Fury could be in trouble.
Frank Bruno joined talkSPORT on Thursday morning and explained he wouldn’t be surprised if Fury boxed his way to victory, as long as he avoids the dynamite in Wilder’s hands.
“If you look at Wilder’s last fight against Luis Ortiz, it took him seven rounds before Wilder caught him with a right hand.
“Tyson Fury is much fresher, much more skilful, much younger and a better boxer. All he’s got to do is not got hit.”