By Keith Idec
Organizers of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight have huge expectations for the type of profits it’ll make.
Representatives for Mayweather and McGregor are so sold on the marketability of this unusual spectacle, they suggested during a conference call Wednesday night that the fight could make comparable money to what the infamous Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown produced two years ago. The long-awaited Mayweather-Pacquiao bout didn’t deliver the type of entertainment fans expected from a heavily hyped, $100 pay-per-view event in May 2015, but their welterweight title fight drew a record of roughly 4.6 million buys and generated more than $600 million in overall revenue.
“I think this fight is bigger globally than Mayweather-Pacquiao was,” UFC president Dana White said.
The economic expectations have been set so high because intense public demand for Mayweather-McGregor transformed it from a dismissed mismatch to a reality that’ll take place 10 weeks from Saturday night. The first boxing match of McGregor’s life will be contested at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds August 26 in Las Vegas (Showtime Pay-Per-View).
The 40-year-old Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs), who beat Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, will end a two-year retirement when he meets McGregor in a 12-round fight. The undefeated five-division champion hasn’t fought since he soundly defeated Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) by unanimous decision in another 12-rounder in September 2015.
The relentless reaction Leonard Ellerbe has received from fans since the Mayweather-McGregor drama began late last year made the Mayweather Promotions CEO realize just how huge the event could become. Ellerbe acknowledged Wednesday night that income made by Mayweather-McGregor could rival revenue streams from Mayweather-Pacquiao.
“Yes, of course,” Ellerbe said. “Why not? You’ve gotta understand, obviously with Mayweather-Pacquiao, and Stephen can attest to this, that was a fight that the fans had been talking about for years. There’s not one place that I go to, that Floyd goes to, that anybody affiliated or associated with Floyd Mayweather [goes to], that [we don’t get] asked the question, ‘Floyd, are you gonna fight Conor McGregor?’ This is a very, very hot fight and this is a fight that the fans want. It’s gonna be a tremendous event. The fans wanted this fight.”
White added Wednesday night that the two sides haven’t come to an agreement regarding how much Mayweather-McGregor will cost on pay-per-view. Whatever it costs, Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza expects millions of fans to buy it.
“We’re not only drawing fans from the universe of boxing fans and the universe of MMA fans,” said Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager for Showtime Sports. “We’ve actually tapped into the audience that really doesn’t follow either sport. This is such an unprecedented event, such a spectacle, that all of a sudden people who have never really been interested in MMA or boxing are interested in this event due to the nature of the competition and the nature of these two personalities. That’s an untapped part of the market that not even Mayweather-Pacquiao touched.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.