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Metro Science: How boxing works, super poop, and double vision

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor's highly anticipated fight on Saturday will be full of hooks and jabs -- but there's more to the match than just big egos and punches.

The action takes place on a professional ring with high weight sportsmen.  All wear unbranded cloth and sport equipment

Dmytro Aksonov / E+

The action takes place on a professional ring with high weight sportsmen. All wear unbranded cloth and sport equipment

Boxing has been dubbed the sweet science by sportswriters and fight fans for its combination of brute force and psychological prowess. As two titans — Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor — take to the ring on Saturday, we look at the actual science behind the sport.


Many college athletes who get a doctor’s OK to play after a concussion still have brain damage, a new Canadian study says.


Technically, it’s a legal hit that keeps a fighter down. But in common parlance, a KO is synonymous with a concussion: a blow to the head that breaks brain cells. When that happens, potassium, which should be concentrated inside the cells, flows out. Sodium and calcium, which are supposed to be outside, rush in. Special pump proteins kick into gear to try to put all these chemicals back where they belong. But the clean-up requires energy, and the cells can quickly burn through their sugar reserves. If the damage is bad enough, the body “taps out” to conserve fuel, and the fighter passes out.


Coaches say “put your back into it” for a reason. Sports involving swinging and hitting take advantage of Bunn’s summation of speed principle: for maximum speed, motion should originate from the large, strong muscles in the core and back, move out toward the smaller, weaker muscles in the arms and finally the hand, getting faster as the punch proceeds. According to a study in Sports Biomechanics, a hook or swinging punch has more knockout-producing speed, but a jab, or straight punch, takes less time so it's harder to evade.


Sports neurologist Anthony Alessi says if a player stops adjusting his feet for balance, a punch has likely thrown him off-kilter and he’s about to go down.


Listen to the players talking to each other and their trainers. Slurring their words or struggling to get a thought are signs a of head injury.


McGregor is used to 4-oz MMA gloves, but this time both fighters will use 8-oz, similar to those used in boxing, which a Canadian study found are less powerful but perhaps easier to injure with.


Gatorade is so passe: A group of U.S. chemists analyzed poop from athletes who participated in the 2015 Boston Marathon and 2016 Olympics and found they have higher amounts of some beneficial bacteria, including one kind that helps break down lactic acid from tired muscles and another that promotes carb digestion for energy. Now they're considering commerical production of probiotic supplements that will contain purified bacteria that actually come from from athlete's guts. Yum!


Diplopia happens when you see two images of the same object -- commonly called "seeing double" -- usually because of a problem with the extraocular muscles that control the movement of the eyes.


Ever since Deborah slipped on a banana peel at the compost factory, she's been suffering from diplopia.

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