Two days after Floyd Mayweather announced he would square off with Conor McGregor in a boxing match, lesser-known heavyweights Tim Hague and Adam Braidwood stepped into a ring in Edmonton. Two days after their fight, Hague was dead from a brain hemorrhage.
If the excitement that accompanied the Mayweather-McGregor announcement reflected interest from fans who longed for the fight to happen, the death of an MMA fighter after trading punches with a professional boxer showed what can happen when one combatant is overmatched and out of his element.
Does that spell trouble for McGregor? Not exactly, but he'll be playing a dangerous game when he steps into the ring with the most accomplished pound-for-pound boxer in history. Hague's death, while tragic, should serve as a warning.
It’s important to put Hague's career and subsequent death into proper context before jumping to conclusions about McGregor putting himself in a similarly hazardous and potentially fatal situation against Mayweather. The only parallel between McGregor and Hague was they were MMA fighters who switched disciplines.
"To compare Hague to McGregor would be wrong because they're two different fighters," Randy Gordon, who hosts "At the Fights" on SiriusXM Radio, said by telephone Tuesday. "Hague, from what I saw, was an old fighter who was fighting out of his element and in the condition of being used up. It was the wrong thing for him to do, and all the red flags might have been there."
Mayweather is 40 years and hasn't fought since Sept. 12, 2015, when he earned a unanimous decision over Andre Berto to improve to 49-0. McGregor is 28 years old and in the prime of his career. With a 21-3 record, including 18 knockouts, he's considered the best MMA fighter in the world.
Hague, 34, had a 1-4 record in Ultimate Fighting Championships. After he dropped his last four fights, the UFC dropped him in 2011. He had a 21-13 record and had been knocked out eight times in all levels of MMA. The single father of an 8-year-old boy, he was a fourth-grade teacher by trade.
"You can't put Hague in the same class as McGregor," said Gordon, former chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission. "Conor McGregor, in every sense of the word, is a world-class fighter. Tim Hague fought more with his heart than his skill."
The Edmonton Journal reported that Alberta is the only province in Canada that does not have a commission to regulate combat sports. The City of Edmonton was left to oversee the Braidwood fight. It makes you wonder if Hague's death could have been avoided if officials intervened before it was too late.
One of his friends suggested Hague fought through lingering effects of a concussion that stemmed from getting knocked out in April. He also was fighting on short notice after another fighter pulled out of his scheduled bout with Braidwood. And he was knocked down four times by Braidwood, an accomplished boxer in Canada, before the fight was stopped.
Braidwood reportedly asked Hague during their fight if he wanted to stop, but he declined. Hague left the ring under his own power and later slipped into a coma. It would be difficult to fathom the same thing happening in a sanctioned fight between McGregor and Mayweather.
We’ll find out soon enough.
Mayweather and McGregor are expecting massive paydays when they climb into the ring Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. Mayweather will pocket an estimated $100 million, but it could be exponentially more depending on pay-per-view revenue. McGregor is expected to take home $75 million or considerably more.
Most experts believe McGregor has little chance of beating an undefeated champion in a boxing ring. The same would be true in reverse. Mayweather would have virtually no hope against McGregor in an octagon given McGregor's combination of wrestling, kicking and punching skills. Every fight comes with serious risk.
And that's why people watch.
"Personally, I don’t want to see this fight happen," Gordon said. "I've been calling it the Pet Rock – the idea that people will buy anything. People are going to be piling into Vegas and buying it all over the world because it's an event.
"Who knows how many fighters are out there who are doing something they shouldn't be doing. We pray that we're not going to see any more Tim Hagues. As far as Conor is concerned, as long as they're putting it on, I hope it's a great show."
The big leagues haven't had a player who pitched and played the field on a regular basis since some guy named Babe Ruth pulled double duty, but that could change in the coming years with the emergence of University of Louisville junior Brendan McKay, high school phenomenon Hunter Greene and Japanese star Shohei Ohtani.
McKay, 21, selected fourth overall by the Tampa Bay Rays last week, entered Tuesday's game against Florida in the College World Series with a .340 batting average, 17 homers and 56 RBIs in 62 games this season. The left-hander also had an 11-3 record with a 2.56 ERA, 146 strikeouts and 35 walks in 109 innings pitched.
"If you see really good numbers that a guy puts up as a pitcher and he’s also able to hit at a great clip, it would be hard to say you want only one aspect of this guy," McKay told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month. "I mean, at least give him a shot to see if he can do both and manage it.”
Greene, 17, was taken second overall after throwing 102 mph for Notre Dame High in Southern California, starring at shortstop and hitting with prodigious power. At 6-4, 200 pounds, he already has the sturdy frame from a future star. The Reds view him as a pitcher but plan to develop his bat.
Ohtani, 22, could be the best of the three. He has been playing professionally in Japan for the past four seasons. Last year, he had a 1.86 ERA while batting .322 with 22 homers in 104 games for the Noppon Ham Fighters. He hinted on "60 Minutes" that he would likely sign as a big-league contract as a free agent before next season.
No pitcher has started more than 10 games and played the field since 1919, when Ruth was 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA while batting .322 with 29 homers for the Red Sox. They traded him to the Yankees after the season. I wonder what ever happened with that Ruth fellow.
Channeling frustration with NCAA
Leave it to the NCAA, the most hypocritical governing body on the planet, to prevent one of its student-athletes (see: assets) from pursuing his passion in football while planning for life after football.
When he wasn't kicking off for the football team and working toward a degree in marketing, Central Florida junior Donald De La Haye began posting YouTube videos to his 55,000 subscribers. Posting videos was fine but earning money from advertisers linked to them is a big no-no in the eyes of the NCAA.
"This is literally, literally – literally – pertaining directly to my career," De Le Haye said during a video posted last week that was viewed by 155,000 people. "Ain't no man gonna stop me from doing me. I've been doing me for 20 years now, brah."
De La Haye met with university compliance officials who explained the rules but did not tell him to stop. Instead, they made it clear the NCAA prohibits athletes from profiting from their names. That's what the NCAA does, after all. As it stands now, he can stop making money from his videos or turn in his uniform.
The videos, by the way, are hilarious. In another he has a friend, depicted as an enforcement agent, standing over him and stopping him from going about his daily business – using his cell phone, brushing his teeth, getting money from the ATM. The message: Everything he does is a NCAA infraction.
"I really might have to make a choice between playing football, college football, and making YouTube videos, something I love so much," he said. "It's really tough. … I'm not doing anything illegally. I'm not sitting here selling dope. I'm not sitting here kidnapping people, robbing people. I'm not sitting here selling my autographs for money. … I put in the work, and I'm not allowed to get any benefits from what I work that put in."
Rob Gronkowski denied racking up a $102,000 liquor bill at Foxwoods Resort and Casino over the weekend. The Amherst native and Patriots star responded to a TMZ report by posting a picture of himself holding a giant $110,000 check from Gronk Nation to Boston Children's Hospital on Twitter.
"Don't always believe what you read," he said on Twitter. "This is where 100k + would go to before that."
TMZ posted a picture of a bar tab, claiming it belonged to Gronk and about 20 friends who ordered 18 bottles of Ace of Spades Rose at $1,000 a pop, 15 bottles of Dom Perignon Rose for $1,800 apiece and 16 bottles of Grey Goose for $650 each, among other drinks. It wasn't clear who was responsible for the tab.
"After I talked to Steve and Doc and what's your-name – Frank Lawrence – I was even more convinced. I've known these guys and respected them." – Jerry West, talking about owner Steve Balmer, coach Doc Rivers and executive vice president Lawrence Frank, after signing with the Clippers as a consultant.
93 – Years since a team allowed five runs or more for at least 16 consecutive games, which the Orioles did after a 12-0 loss to Cleveland. The 1924 Phillies allowed five runs or more a record 20 straight games.
2 – Winning streaks of 23 games this season by Oregon State's baseball team, which had a 56-4 record going into a game against the Florida State-LSU winner and had not lost since USC earned a 7-5 win April 29.
17 – Home runs allowed this year by Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw, the most he surrendered for any full season.
- Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay parted ways Monday after spending 25 years on tour together. Mackay had been on the bag for all but one of Mickelson's 563 career events (and 41 of his 42 victories) on the PGA Tour. He also made about $8.3 million, or 10 percent of Mickelson's earnings, on the PGA Tour alone. Not bad.
- ESPN.com listed a committee of five executives who were managing the Cavaliers after GM David Griffin and VP of basketball operations Trent Redden hit the exit. One familiar name was Mike Gansey, who played two years for St. Bonaventure before transferring to West Virginia in 2003.
- Aaron Judge's 23 homers through 65 games with the Yankees is remarkable, but it's even more impressive when you learn where he hit them. Ten have been to the opposite field while nine cleared the wall in left and four in center. This kid might not have a weakness.