For the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight to become the most-watched PPV in history, it will have to "attract a large segment of traditional boxing fans," which begs the question of "will knowledgeable fans pay to watch this," according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TIMES. Mayweather has never been "considered a puncher, but even a 40-year-old version of him should be able to knock out McGregor whenever he wants." Every "semi-observant boxing fan understands this." But rationality "won’t determine whether these potential customers purchase the fight." Hernandez: "Impulse control will." The current record of 4.6 million PPV buys was set for the '15 Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight (L.A. TIMES, 6/16). In DC, Todd Dybas writes McGregor and Mayweather will provide "excessive layers" of hype for their fight. The main challenge for all involved between now and August is to "make the public progressively embrace the hoopla." There is "so much show here, so much theater, that it threatens to flow over the individual skill each fighter has in his sport" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/16). USA TODAY's Martin Rogers writes selling a fight on PPV has "everything to do with what people do and nothing to do with what they say." Just as long as they are "saying something." Mayweather-McGregor is "making noise, even without either of the fighters talking." Much of it has been "derisory noise, but the fight promotion is off and running" (USA TODAY, 6/16). In DC, Jeff Wagenheim writes the real main event will likely come in the duo’s "verbal sparring sessions in the 10 weeks leading up the fight." When Mayweather and McGregor are together onstage at a news conference dais, "turn on the bright lights." That might be McGregor’s "best hope of producing a fight worth the price tag" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/16).
WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION? ESPN's Michael Wilbon called the bout a "spectacle" and said it is "not going to be a fight." Wilbon: "This is what we have now in America ... driven by things like reality TV and social media. The hype leading up to it will be probably the height of it" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/15). The Washington Post's Kevin Blackistone said it will be a "big flop" and noted the "build-up is going to be bigger than the fight" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/15). ESPN's Mina Kimes said, "You know something is a scam when the only people who think it's a good idea are the ones who are making money off of it." ESPN's Dan Le Batard said this will be the "easiest money Floyd has ever taken away" from viewers ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 6/15). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes, "Buyer beware. This is a scam. This is another Vegas illusion, and a chance for you to prove there’s a sucker born every minute" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/16). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote Mayweather-McGregor "reeks of a three-headed-dog show more than a boxing match, but it’s guaranteed to generate millions of pay-per-view buys." Engel: "Mayweather cares about that more than any record, championship or belt" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 6/15).
A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly writes the only point to Mayweather-McGregor is that it will "provide something mainstream sport has lost the ability to do well -- create an honest-to-God spectacle." The sports world has "reached the point where the off-ice/field/court stuff is treated with more thoughtfulness and reverence than the sport as it is played, because games last only a couple of hours, two or three times a week, and the Internet requires around-the-clock feeding." Kelly: "I suspect this fight is a harbinger of sorts." When people "tire of the constancy of sport, they will seek out spectacles." And in order to "distinguish themselves, those will become increasingly freakish" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/16).
The news Floyd Mayweather Jr. will fight Conor McGregor on Aug. 26 was "devastating to three separate HBO fights" -- the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch, the Miguel Cotto-Yoshihiro Kamegai fight and the highly anticipated Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin bout, according to Kevin Iole of YAHOO SPORTS. Ward-Kovalev is an "outstanding match that looks like it will struggle badly at the box office" on Saturday night. Promoters at Thursday’s news conference were "pleading with the gathered media for coverage to what should be a sensational bout." That comes as the Ward-Kovalev fight was "largely ignored" in the immediate aftermath of Mayweather-McGregor being announced. While Ward-Kovalev will get "some coverage this week, the volume and the significance of it will be greatly diminished by all the attention given to Mayweather-McGregor." There "wasn’t much interest in Cotto-Kamegai in the first place," but it will be "all but impossible ... to receive any media coverage whatsoever" on the same date as Mayweather-McGregor. Iole noted Mayweather and McGregor are "two of the best trash talkers in history," and they will "take airtime and media space away from Alvarez-Golovkin." Alvarez "speaks next to no English and Golovkin’s English still isn’t great." Fans also are going to "spend a lot of money just three weeks before Alvarez-Golovkin, and history has shown that can impact sales." Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya must find a way to "recapture the media’s attention after the tornado that will be Mayweather-McGregor blows away" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/15). In Las Vegas, Adam Hill writes the Mayweather-McGregor announcement "could not have been any worse" for De La Hoya. To say Mayweather-McGregor will "steal a little bit of the thunder from what was supposed to be the biggest boxing match of the year would be a grave understatement" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/16).
KILLING MOMENTUM: USA TODAY's Bob Velin writes the Mayweather-McGregor hype "often overshadowed the buzz for the Ward-Kovalev rematch," and that made the promoters for Saturday's PPV just a "little bit tight under the collar" on Thursday. Roc Nation President & Chief of Branding Strategy Michael Yormark, who promotes for Ward, said that this fight card was "legitimately a huge sporting event, 'Not the money-grabbing spectacle that will happen later this year.'" Main Events Promotion President Kathy Duva, who promotes for Kovalev, said Wednesday's announcement was "a kick in the teeth" (USA TODAY, 6/16). ESPN.com's Dan Rafael noted the Ward-Kovalev rematch has been a "relatively low-key promotion" but it appeared to be "gaining at least some traction and for any pay-per-view event the most critical window for publicity is in the final few days." So when "news broke of the deal being finalized for Mayweather-McGregor ... it took over the sports world and left Ward-Kovalev II possibly dead in the water." Duva: "It's going to affect us, absolutely it's going to affect us. I can't quantify it but let's face it -- it's going to have an affect" (ESPN.com, 6/15). Duva said of the Mayweather-McGregor bout, "Of course it’s bad for boxing. It’s going to suck up all the air in the room." She added, "It's not a boxing event, it's a spectacle" (L.A. TIMES, 6/16). BOXING SCENE's Keith Idec notes even before Wednesday's announcement Duva "sensed that a fight the magnitude of Ward-Kovalev 2 hadn’t gained the type of traction it warrants." Meanwhile, the four-fight PPV highlighted by Ward-Kovalev costs $64.99 in HD. That is a "costly consideration when boxing fans know there will be two more prominent pay-per-view shows within a three-week span later this summer" (BOXINGSCENE.com, 6/16).
MAKING A RETURN? SI's Greg Bishop writes since the anticlimactic Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in '15, boxing has "shifted in the right direction." There have been "better fights, more captivating story lines, the emergence of new starts and a slate of bouts this spring and summer that is as intriguing as anything in years." The attention is "starting to catch up to the quality of action." When Keith Thurman defeated Danny Garcia on March 5 on CBS, a "peak of 5.1 million viewers tuned in, the largest for a prime-time boxing match" since '98. Meanwhile, Anthony Joshua's TKO of Wladimir Klitschko "drew 90,000 fans to Wembley Stadium and was broadcast in 150 countries." If this is a "dead" sport, then '17 has been "quite the posthumous performance" (SI, 6/19 issue).
The Metro Nashville Sports Authority (MNSA) has "approved an agreement governing negotiations with a group looking to bring road racing to the grounds of Nissan Stadium, advancing that group's wish to make the Grand Prix of Nashville a reality," according to Eleanor Kennedy of the NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The group is led by Joe Mattioli III, whose family owns Pocono Raceway. The MNSA "approved a memorandum of understanding Thursday that lays out the expectations for further negotiations related to the event." MNSA Exec Dir Monica Fawknotson said that conversations about bringing such an event to Nashville have been "ongoing for between 12 and 18 months." Former Baker Curb Racing CEO Matt Crews, a member of the group's management team and veteran motorsports exec, said that the group would build a "multi-day festival around the race itself." Events related to the race would "include a parade, street festival, concerts and a pro/celebrity race, along with the race itself along the 1.72 mile circuit on a Sunday." The group is targeting April '19 for the "first running of the race." However, Crews acknowledged Nashville's crowded event schedule "makes the exact date a bit of a moving target." Crews and Mattioli "compared their plans for an annual Nashville event to the Grand Prix of Long Beach." The group has had "preliminary conversations" with both IndyCar and the Int'l Motor Sports Association, though "no official agreement has been reached" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/15). In Nashville, Joey Garrison notes the group "asked for no city funding on their project" and has "proposed a temporary racing track for their event that would be largely contained on the parking lots that surround Nissan Stadium." The group is "looking for a five year agreement" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/16).