McGregor-Mayweather Megafight Is Officially On, Taking Place At T-Mobile Arena Aug. 26
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor made the "once improbable boxing match come to fruition" yesterday when they announced a "154-pound blockbuster bout" for T-Mobile Arena on Showtime PPV scheduled for Aug. 26, according to Manzano & Hill of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Officials are "hoping to move" the BIG3 title game from T-Mobile to the MGM Grand Garden to "clear the year-old arena for the boxing event." Mayweather Promotions as a back-up plan yesterday "received permission to promote an event Aug. 26 at the MGM Grand Garden" during the Nevada Athletic Commission’s monthly meeting. The date for Mayweather-McGregor "creates a mess for Golden Boy Promotions," which will probably "take a hit financially" with the fight jumping in front of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin showdown set at T-Mobile on Sept. 16. The undercard for Mayweather-McGregor will be "strictly boxing matches." UFC President Dana White said, "There will be no UFC that day. This is a boxing day." Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Stephen Espinoza could "add a UFC touch after teasing a possible prelim before the PPV undercard." Manzano & Hill report the UFC still will "promote the boxing match on its programs and cards, and plans on doing the popular Embedded series" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/15). ESPN.com's Dan Rafael noted there are "still some details to be ironed out even though the deal is done." That includes "determining the cost of the pay-per-view, ticket prices, the specific broadcast team and what kind of media tour the fighters will embark on" (ESPN.com, 6/14).
HOW THE DEAL CAME TOGETHER: In L.A., Lance Pugmire reports once McGregor and the UFC "solved how to split the money" with Mayweather, a deal "steamrolled to a rapid conclusion." Espinoza said, "Negotiations took less than two weeks after they started in earnest until the deal came from out of the blue." He added, "There were no snags, no hassles, no changeups at all. … The volume of details to make the fight took time, but not the fighters." Pugmire notes financial terms of the deal "have not been revealed, but it’s certain that Mayweather will earn the lion’s share of the purse" and PPV money after raking in more than $200M for the record-selling Manny Pacquiao bout alone (L.A. TIMES, 6/15). ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Mayweather is "doing this for the money," as it takes a "minimum of $100 million to get Floyd Mayweather in a ring." Smith: "He told me personally on several occasions ... he's not ever fighting for less than nine figures again" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/14). In Las Vegas, Case Keefer notes this match "may give McGregor a nine-figure payday" after PPV bonuses and endorsement deals -- and he "won’t be the higher paid of the two fighters (LAS VEGAS SUN, 6/15). USA TODAY's Martin Rogers notes a "key component of the agreement" was Mayweather’s "insistence on the use of purely boxing regulations, rather than some hybrid arrangement that allowed McGregor to utilize some of his MMA tactics" (USA TODAY, 6/15).
CAN THIS TOP MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO? ESPN.com's Rafael writes it "might seem a stretch to think the fight will surpass the economic success -- including a record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys" -- of the '15 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. However, officials responsible for putting it together "made the case that it could." Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe: "This has a different kind of feel. This is more of a mainstream global event. This is something the fans want to see" (ESPN.com, 6/15). The L.A. TIMES' Pugmire writes McGregor's "outspokenness and striking power create sufficient intrigue to sell a fight that could challenge" Mayweather-Pacquiao. Ellerbe "speculated that the fight could generate" $500M in live-gate and PPV sales (L.A. TIMES, 6/15). Ellerbe said of reaching the $500M mark, "Of course, why not? It’s a very, very hot fight, and a fight that the fans want." Mayweather-Pacquiao reportedly generated close to $600M in total revenue, and Espinoza said, "We have actually tapped into the audience that doesn’t really follow either sport. All of a sudden people who have never really been interested in MMA or boxing are interested in this due to the nature of the competition" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/15).
SHOWTIME'S SHOW: White said that Showtime will handle the PPV for Mayweather-McGregor "including all distribution and production for the event." He added that the UFC "will do some shoulder programming for the bout including some typical fight week programming," but ultimately the PPV is "left up to Showtime" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/15). He said Showtime is "going to put on a show leading up to the fight," and the net will "do all of the things they do because they have Mayweather under contract." White: "We’re coming up with all of the things that we're going to do for the fans to watch and get more excited for the fight” ("UFC Tonight," FS1, 6/14).
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: In, N.Y., George Willis notes the "anticipation for the bout ... isn’t just about what will happen in the ring, but about the verbal sparring and promotional antics that already have taken place and promise to heat up now that the fight is official." The fighters' popularity is worldwide and they will "draw fans from the boxing and MMA worlds." It also will "attract those simply looking to be part of something unique." It will be social media’s "first truly big fight" (N.Y. POST, 6/15). THE RINGER's Sam Schube wrote this fight is enough to "qualify as the biggest event of the year, easily." It is "certainly the biggest matchup" since Mayweather-Pacquiao and it is going to "suck all the oxygen out of" Alvarez-Golovkin (THERINGER.com, 6/14). ESPN's Brett Okamoto said Mayweather-McGregor "will be a real fight ... on the night of the fight." However, during the next two months, it is a "spectacle, it’s an event." Okamoto: "It's not really a fight in the traditional sense” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 6/15). On Long Island, Mark La Monica writes the fight is a "spectacle of sport, which is perfectly fine." It is "not the first such endeavor in athletics, nor will it be the last." If it is a "referendum on anything, it’s on the sporting society and how far from the norm they’ll stray for the sake of personal entertainment" (NEWSDAY, 6/15). ESPN.com's Rafael compared Mayweather-McGregor to the '73 Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs Battle of the Sexes and the '76 Muhammad Ali-Antonio Inoki fight. This will be one of those "must-see events and then will fade quickly." Boxing promoter Lou DiBella said, "It'll be like when Evil Knievel tried to jump the Snake River Canyon" (ESPN.com, 6/14).
THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote, "There is no factual basis to believe this is anything more than a circus act." Wetzel: "A lot of us enjoy the circus. ... It will be a massive success. Just don’t expect a great, competitive fight" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/14). ESPN's Teddy Atlas said, "It’s going to be an event, a Super Bowl-type event. It’s going to be a carnival atmosphere." ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said of the Mayweather-McGregor fight, “I will buy this. I may regret it. I recognize it is a show. I recognize that as a fight, it is probably a joke, I recognize that it’ll be one-sided, but I'm in." He added, "This isn’t a damn fight. This is a show, and I’m good with that” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/15). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said, "Fight fans are going to watch to see their guy mop the loud mouth, MMA guys are going to watch hoping their guy can land the punch and the people who say they won't watch will watch just in case. If it stinks, it’ll be too late because they’ll already have your money. You swear you won't buy another fight, and you won't -- until the next one” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/15).
MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO 'ROUND: SI.com's Greg Bishop wrote under the header, "Make No Mistake: Mayweather-McGregor Bout Is About Money And Not Boxing." This "isn't about Mayweather improving to 50-0" and this "isn't about McGregor becoming a two-combat-sport star." Bishop: "This is about money." At some point, the sport’s caretakers "have to care about more than just money." If anything, Mayweather-McGregor is "worse for boxing, in every sense except a monetary one" (SI.com, 6/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "You are allowed to have one of two opinions about this: 1. Mayweather vs. McGregor is a shameless abomination concocted purely for money, which I have zero interest in paying to watch. 2. Mayweather vs. McGregor is a shameless abomination concocted purely for money, which I have zero interest in paying to watch -- but I will try to talk my neighbor into paying for it" (WSJ.com, 6/15). The AP's Tim Dahlberg writes "anything can happen" when putting Mayweather and McGregor on a stage together to "promote their fight." However, putting them together in a ring is an "absolute mismatch." It will not be any kind of "legitimate fight, no matter how much rabid UFC fans want desperately to believe it will be." Balance that against the chance McGregor may "ruin his brand -- and that of the UFC -- by being embarrassed by Mayweather in the ring, and the money wins out" (AP, 6/15).