With Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion readying to spar it out on Sunday lunchtime, the sporting world is also eagerly anticipating Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor's boxing bout on Sunday morning, a spectacle which Mark Hughes believes could 'distract' his players.
With the show-stopping fight commencing in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning, Hughes is concerned that the event could 'impact' on their performance against the Baggies, and is determined to ensure that his players' minds are solely focused on the task at hand when they travel to The Hawthorns.
Hughes, 53, said to the media (via The Times): “It takes our interest because we’re playing at 1.30pm on a Sunday and it could be a distraction to be perfectly honest,
“So it’s something we’re very well aware of. The hype surrounding the event is there — there’s a huge amount of interest from everybody, but clearly we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t impact on our game.
“Whether we have a way of managing it, I don’t know but that will be the plan. It’s very early — 4.30am, 5am, so maybe we can record it and the lads can see it a couple of hours later.
“I love the big fights — I think everyone has an interest but I’m not too sure how this sits in terms of a contest. The hype will tell you it’s going to be really close but the reality might be a little bit different so we’ll have to wait and see.”
Hughes refused to shake Tony Pulis' hand in the same fixture last term, so perhaps instead of niceties, the Premier League bosses will opt to touch gloves in the technical area instead, as they both prepare to outwit one another with a sucker-punch or two on the pitch, rather than in the ring.