The investment group from Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates has confirmed it’s upped its already record-setting offer to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Mayweather Promotions to fight Manny Pacquiao during the first half of 2015 to an unprecedented $120 million.
“The media has been speculating the offer has gone up $10 million to a guaranteed $120 million, and they’re right,” said M. Akbar Muhammad [who previously worked with Don King], a long-time boxing executive and one of the principals in the Abu Dhabi-based group, which plans to host the event there during the first half of 2015.
The formal offer has been presented to Mayweather Promotions, said Muhammad. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao have announced this month their intensions to meet in the ring during 2015.
“Mr. Mayweather has said he’ll fight Pacquiao in the spring, so the only matter that needs to be resolved is the money,” said Muhammad.
“That said,” said Muhammad, “I defy any other offer to come anywhere close to what Mr. Mayweather and the ‘Money Team’ will net by fighting in Abu Dhabi. It simply can’t and won’t be done. Such is the nature of today’s international financial landscape.
“New, rich players are emerging in the world of sports, and boxing is no exception, as evidenced by this group from Abu Dhabi,” said Muhammad.
“It’s a brave new world, and sports is embracing it,” said Muhammad. “Mr. Mayweather can be cutting edge, a trend-setter.
“But money’s not the only factor that makes this an historic event,” said Muhammad. “The fight happening in Abu Dhabi makes it a truly global event. There’s more to boxing than just Las Vegas.
“For instance, the media tour for this event will not be just in the United States; it’ll be a worldwide tour, one which will hit major capitals and countries around the globe,” said Muhammad.
“And because of this international stage, financial and brand opportunities outside of the ring abound for the winner of the fight,” said Muhammad.
“The $120 million is the largest payday for an individual for a single event in the history of sports,” said Muhammad. “This dwarfs by far any amount an individual in the richest sports—
baseball, football, basketball, soccer, cricket, tennis, golf and Formula 1 racing—has ever received.
“This is in keeping with my instructions: to do whatever it takes to make this fight happen,” said Muhammad.
But, Muhammad cautioned, that time is of the essence. “It takes months to put on an event of this magnitude,” said Muhammad. “It’s not just the card, it’s the concerts and tributes that comprise this week-long event.”
The event will include concerts with at least one heritage artist plus tributes to both Muhammad Ali and Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late Emir of Abu Dhabi and the first president of the United Arab Emirates, on the 10th anniversary of his passing, said Muhammad.
“We are committed to creating a celebration, the scope and magnitude of which has never been seen,” said Muhammad. “We want the biggest fight ever in Abu Dhabi.”
In addition to receiving a record-setting purse, Mayweather Promotions, LLC will be the lead promoter of the event and a partner with the investment group, said Muhammad.
Muhammad added that the group desires an on-going relationship with Mayweather Promotions.
“Future fight cards in this part of the world, regardless if Mr. Mayweather fights on them, will be done with Mayweather Promotions as the lead promoter,” said Muhammad.
Muhammad, president and chief operating officer of Akbar Productions, LLC of New Jersey, has extensive experience in all phases of boxing. He has managed five professional world champions; guided two Olympic gold medalists; and produced world championship, internationally televised boxing cards in more than one dozen countries.