By Keith Idec
Leonard Ellerbe delivered an emphatic message Thursday to doubters that expect Mayweather-McGregor to amount to a box-office flop.
The Mayweather Promotions CEO revealed before Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s open workout at his Las Vegas gym that more than $60 million in tickets already have been sold for Mayweather’s fight against UFC superstar Conor McGregor on August 26. Ellerbe has no doubt, either, that the event will sell out the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and that Mayweather-McGregor will smash boxing’s record for ticket revenue – the $72 million generated from Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.
Ellerbe has been perplexed recently regarding constant questions about extremely expensive tickets to Mayweather-McGregor moving slowly.
“I’m actually tired of hearing that question because right now we have over $60 million in the box office,” Ellerbe said. “Now you tell me what part of that would remotely look like ticket sales are slow? This isn’t a damn Rolling Stones concert. That’s the only thing that sells out in seconds. And you’re talking about tickets that go from $500 to $10,000. That’s an expensive ticket. So, you know, you have every CEO from every major company, you know, guys, it takes time for them to plan and get it together.
“The fact of the matter is that we have over $60 million in the box office right now, which is more than double any other live gate that’s ever been done. The fight that they have on the 16th of September, next month, our fight right now has more in the box office right now, double, than what they will have. And again, we’re not talking, you know, a $2 or $3 million gate. All these record-breaking events and the numbers that are associated with that all are because of Floyd Mayweather. A little guy who’s, soaking wet, 147 pounds. He broke all these records.”
Tickets to Mayweather-McGregor went on sale July 24 at exorbitant price points for a boxing event – $500, $1,500, $2,500, $3,500, $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000.
Consumers were required to pre-register for the TicketMaster “Verified Fan Program,” designed to ensure tickets went to fight fans, rather than scalpers. Each buyer initially was limited to two tickets, but the limit later was increased to six tickets per customer.
According to an ESPN.com story, there were 2,797 tickets available on TicketMaster.com as of Thursday night. There also were more than 2,000 secondary-market tickets available at StubHub.com on Thursday night.
Earlier this week, TicketMaster began selling tickets through Costco, an unusual attempt to move tickets to a boxing event. Those tickets can be purchased without paying inflated fees TicketMaster typically attaches to its ticket purchases.
The Costco concept drew criticism on social media, but Ellerbe doesn’t think making tickets available to a broader base of potential customers is an ill-conceived idea.
“That’s what’s wrong with boxing today,” Ellerbe said. “You guys are always complaining and looking for sh*t to complain about, when there’s nothing there. That’s the reason why we can’t be innovative. That’s what Floyd Mayweather’s done differently from everybody else. He’s thought outside the box. Someone said to me, ‘Oh, tickets are on sale at Costco.’ I’m like, ‘We don’t have nothing to do with that.’ But when you think about it – is that a bad thing?
“Opening this thing up to a housewife in [Des Moines], Iowa, Kansas, somebody who wouldn’t normally have access to our fight, is that a bad thing, for it to be accessible at Costco? That’s what’s wrong with boxing right now. Everyone wants to operate in this small circle, and that’s why this little guy over here, at 147 pounds, will go over making a billion dollars in this fight, because he’s been able to think outside of the box. Everybody’s operating in this little thing. You know, times change. You’ve gotta think outside the box. And again, TicketMaster chose to do this.”
Ellerbe also took exception Thursday to what he considers constant criticism from fellow promoter Oscar De La Hoya. The retired superstar has harshly condemned Mayweather-McGregor as a complete mismatch that will defraud fans that pay to watch it in the arena and on pay-per-view ($99.95 in HD).
De La Hoya has been very vocal in his criticism because Mayweather-McGregor could cut into profits for Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin, the highly anticipated middleweight title fight his company is promoting September 16 at T-Mobile Arena. Alvarez-Golovkin was announced as a complete sellout July 7, just 15 days after tickets went on sale June 22, but Ellerbe contended Thursday that there are thousands of tickets of still available.
Ellerbe presumably was referring to Alvarez-Golovkin tickets available on the secondary market. Regardless, he cannot understand why De La Hoya, who Mayweather beat by split decision in their May 2007 fight, continuously criticizes Mayweather, who also has admonished De La Hoya for his well-documented transgressions away from boxing.
“He lies to you guys,” Ellerbe said, “and tells you that his event is sold out. … His event is not sold out, and there are thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of tickets still available. And they have a great fight, by the way. And I’ll be one of the ones that purchases the pay-per-view. But it just goes to show you it’s like, c’mon man, that’s just all by design to hate on somebody else’s event. And you’re just mad because you couldn’t be part of this. Because you definitely tried. You definitely tried.
“But it’s just like he has this personal thing and it’s just like get over yourself and just move on. Like you’re so obsessed with Floyd Mayweather. Just move on. It’s the truth. It’s the truth. I mean, from writing open letters to the fans, and it’s like, who does that? What ax do you have to grind? What are you mad at? You had an incredible career, you have a very good promotional company, you know, you have some good fighters. Why you worried about what this man got going on? Jealousy is a terrible thing. My lady always tells me that. Jealousy is a terrible thing.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.