Well, here we are
On Saturday August 26, 2017, the undefeated
Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. will come out of retirement to face MMA
biggest star, "The Notorious" Conor McGregor in a 12-round boxing
match. The official announcement of the event came at about mid-day (in
the United States) on Wednesday, June 14, originally reported by ESPN
The fight will take place at T-Mobile Arena
in Las Vegas, Nevada
It will be Mayweather's first fight at T-Mobile Arena, as the venue only
recently opened in April of 2016, 7 months after his last fight.
McGregor has fought in the arena once before, at UFC 202 in his rematch
with Nate Diaz
The fight card will be a boxing-only card. The
event will air on Showtime
as a pay-per-view
fight, and the UFC
will have minimal involvement in the event. Mayweather Promotions is
handling the undercard
, which has not been set yet, but Mayweather has
expressed the desire to bring in some of his promotion's biggest stars
to fight on the card.
This fight. Is a big deal.
Even if you're not a fight fan, not a boxing fan, not a sports fan,
this is still an astronomical event that you will likely be hearing a
lot about between now and the fight, especially in the week leading up
to the fight. So for the sake of the relatively uninvested let me
explain several of the reasons why this fight is
SUCH. A BIG. DEAL.
Let's start with the most conspicuous of reasons. The reason that is
at least half the reason for at least half of the things that happen
everywhere every day.
~ The money. MY GOD, THE MONEY.
It's truly staggering to take in just how much money will be grossed
over the course of this event. Looking at the numbers out of context,
you would think that this is a once in a lifetime event, that would
surely eclipse any and every other event in history. But actually, based
on the projected numbers for this fight, there is one other recent
fight that looks to be very comparable, and which I will therefore use
as a frame of reference (I'm certainly not the first one to draw the
comparison). The other fight was Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny
Pacquiao, which occured in May of 2015. It was a fight that had been 6
years in the making, and drew a lot of anticipation and hype at the
time, especially among more casual boxing fans.
Pacquiao sold 4.6 million pay-per-view buys (despite the somewhat
disgusting $100 USD price tag) which generated $455 million in
revenue. The event's live gate generated over $72 million. All of
these numbers shattered the existing records, which were also set by
previous Mayweather fights. Between the PPV buys, live gate, merchandise
sales, sponsorship and advertisement revenue, and betting revenue
in the state of Nevada, the event grossed $623.5 million.
now, barely 2 years later, we have another fight that's generating a lot
of anticipation (or at least curiosity) from the spectrum of boxing
fans from the most educated to the most passive. ESPN is projecting that
Mayweather vs. McGregor will sell slightly more PPV buys than
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao at 4.75 million buys generating $475 million at
an assumed $100 price tag. However the gate sales for the event and
betting revenue in the state of Nevada are projected to be less than
that of the Pacquiao fight because of the fact that the event is being
widely perceived as more of a spectacle than a legitimate contest (more
on that later). The Pacquiao fight also took place at a different
venue--the MGM Grand Garden Arena (which is under the same ownership
as T-Mobile Arena) and has a smaller capacity than T-Mobile Arena by
over 3,000. Even though the event is expected to sell out, ticket prices
are expected to be less competitive for Mayweather vs. McGregor
considering the larger venue capacity and the relative downplay of the
event (the average ticket price of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was
$4,451...I seriously doubt that will ever happen at another live
sporting event anywhere ever).
With the descrepancy in gate sales
and betting revenue, early projections show that Mayweather vs.
McGregor will fall slightly short of the overall gross from Mayweather
vs. Pacquiao, but only ever so slightly (between $15 million and $25
million). Yet it's truly remarkable that we are coming upon an event
that will come anywhere near the overall gross of the Pacquiao fight. By
the end of the night both Mayweather and McGregor are expected to earn
over $100 million each from the fight. Even if it's not record-setting
that is still
And these projections are still very early. I'm no analyst or number cruncher, but 4.75 million PPV buys actually seems rather low
to me. Then again, it shouldn't be assumed at this point that the PPV will sell for $100 apiece either
(I sure hope not). But most importantly, the fight has only just been
announced and the ball has yet to get really rolling. The fight has
already received a lot of publicity just based on popular demand, but no
"real" marketing and promotion has been put into this fight yet.
There is still yet to be an official press conference. Between all the
talk shows, interviews, preview specials, prognosticators, and
general coverage, we have yet to see what the crazy world of combat
sports public relations and media will generate for this event, and
after the fight we'll get to see the differences between projection and
But even without promotion, this fight has already gathered a lot of
momentum to say the least. Which brings us to a more detailed look at
the next reason why this fight is such a big deal:
~ The anticipation.
The rumors, talk, and demand of this fight have been swirling around
for a while now. Although Mayweather promotions will be handling most of
the details of this event, it was McGregor who made the initial push
for this fight as he was building his career and his image in the UFC. I
won't get into the minutiae of who said what word
for word, because all the smack talk and promotion of the fight from
the fighters' mouths themselves has been and will continue to be both
well-documented and easy to find.
it to say that McGregor has been talking about and focusing on this
fight even since before his most recent MMA bout at UFC 205 in New York
City in November of 2016. In December of that year, McGregor was
granted a boxing license in the state of California. In May of 2017,
McGregor applied for a boxing license in the state of Nevada. In January
of 2017 McGregor hosted a pay-per-view interview (really?) in which he stated that his next fight will be a boxing
match. Mayweather has consistently shown an amenability to the fight,
stating in May of 2017 that the only fight that he would come out of
retirement to accept would be the McGregor fight. Considering Mayweather's
history for being a stickler in fight negotiations, with a reputation of
stalling talks for months at a time, most sources agree that
negotiations for this fight went relatively smoothly and efficiently.
since the first whispers that the fight was a possibility, fans and
media outlets in both the MMA community and boxing community have been
chirping about it. In virtually every public appearance that both
Mayweather and McGregor made in 2017, they were asked about this fight.
UFC president Dana White has said that pretty much the only thing that
anyone ever asks him about recently is this fight, in spite of all the
other UFC events that have happened in the wake of McGregor's absence.
It's not hyperbole at all to say that the world of sports has been
waiting for this.
An obvious part of what makes this such a
high-profile fight is that it concerns 2 high-profile fighters. Both
men are talkers, self-promoters, made for the spotlight, and share a
deep love of money. But despite the instant recognizability of both men,
there are stark differences in terms of their popularity. McGregor is a
brash figure, a loudmouth if you will, but his fighting style is that
of a warrior, a conqueror. He's not afraid of anyone, for better or
worse, and his flamboyance, aggressiveness, and pride in his nationality
(Irish, in case it wasn't clear) has made him an adored and revered
figure in the MMA community.
Mayweather on the other hand is universally respected, but also heavily despised for putting on performances
that are widely perceived as boring to fans. Mayweather is a defensive
specialist--a master at being able to absorb a minimal amount of damage.
He plays the game of constantly trying to out-point and out-fox his
opponents, rather than committing his aggression or looking for an
opportunity to finish the fight. It's a highly intelligent brand of
fighting, and he has an undefeated record to show for it, but in his
last several fights I would dare to say that most people were badly
wanting the arrogant and unentertaining champion to get his comeuppance.
Adding to Mayweather's lack of popularity is the fact that he's been convicted
multiple times of domestic battery charges against a handful of
Now I'll admit that this analysis is more
subjective, but it seems that the potential for this fight to be
perceived as a good guy vs. bad guy fight would only help to fuel
the anticipation behind it. Although I doubt that the fight would be
openly promoted as such. But another angle from which the fight could be
perceived, and perhaps more easily promoted, is the David vs. Goliath
angle. Which leads us into looking at another reason why this fight is
such a big deal:
~ The history/lack of precedence
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is 49-0 in his pro boxing career. His record is
tied with the late great heavyweight Rocky Marciano for the most
amount of wins by an undefeated professional boxer in the history of the
sport, i.e. the greatest record of all time. With one more win he will
be alone at 50-0 and have a claim to the greatest record of all time,
and a fair argument as the greatest boxer of all time. But that 50th
win, if it happens, will be coming at the expense of a man who is making
his professional debut in the sport of boxing.
of how insane that is. McGregor's record is 0-0. He's up against 49-0.
Nobody has ever heard of such a thing in any combat sport on any level,
because nothing remotely resembling it has ever happened before. Opening
betting odds for the fight has Mayweather as a -1100 favorite (which is
to say, heavily heavily favored) and this is a main event fight. As a
fan of the sport, this is an absolute anomaly.
So far very few
analysts or commentators, especially in the boxing world, are giving
McGregor any chance of being able to compete in the fight. But it's not
as if McGregor was stepping into a boxing ring with no real combat
experience. Such a thing would be nothing short of farcical.
McGregor does have 24 professional MMA fights, and 1 amateur fight.
Furthermore, McGregor's greatest strength and biggest asset as a MMA
fighter is his "stand-up" game, which closely relates to boxing in terms
of punching technique and footwork, but with the obvious exceptions
that throwing kicks, knees, and elbows are not legal in boxing.
despite McGregor's general strengths in boxing tequnique, he's taking
on a completely different animal in Mayweather. If men as talented and
with such boxing pedigrees as Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Miguel Cotto,
Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Oscar de la Hoya, Arturo
Gatti, and Manny Pacquiao could do little to nothing to penetrate the
defense of Mayweather or even win more than a handful of rounds each,
then why should anyone think that McGregor can do what these men
couldn't, with literally no boxing pedigree whatsoever? It seems as
though McGregor has little to no chance of taking a decision vs.
Mayweather, and that his best chance to win the fight is by knockout,
but we've said the same thing about all the other aforementioned
Mayweather opponents as they were about to fight him, and every other
opponent Mayweather has faced for approximately the last 20 years.
that being said, there are still some other aspects of the fight that
might favor McGregor, one of them being yet another reason why this
compelling fight is such a big deal:
~ The timing
In this fight, we have a case of one fighter being on the upswing,
and one fighter being on the downswing. Mayweather turned 40 years old
in February. McGregor will turn 29 in July. At the time that the
negotiations were still taking place, it was generally agreed upon by
both parties that the fight would have to happen in 2017, or it wasn't
happening at all. 40 is a remarkable age to be fighting professionally,
which adds to the unlikeliness that this fight would have ever occured
in the first place. As well as the fact that Mayweather had already
retired and had expressed no interest to fight again professionally
until the opportunity to fight McGregor arose.
illustrious career is almost entirely behind him, McGregor has just
recently built himself up to the top. After Ronda Rousey's fall from
grace in her 2 most recent fights, McGregor is easily the UFC's biggest
star and their most valuable commodity. He has never been more
popular, and he is in the best position now to make as much money as he
can in the most financially lucrative fight of his career. Because the
reality is that while McGregor has enjoyed a good deal of success in the
UFC, the caliber of his opponents has been questionable. When he
returns to the UFC, some but not all possible suitors for his next fight
include Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, Cody Garbrandt, Tony
Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Tyron Woodley. These are all
extremely good fighters, and it can be argued that they're each better
than any of McGregor's previous opponents (although McGregor has fought
and defeated Holloway before, that was 4 years ago, and a lot has
changed since then). With McGregor's potential downfall in the UFC yet
to come, with his stock as high as it will ever be, and with a closing
window to fight Mayweather, this fight was now or never.
isn't never, it's now. This isn't a purely spectulative dream fight
scenario, as in "what would've happened if Marciano fought Muhammad
Ali? What about Ali vs. Mike Tyson? Tyson vs. Wladimir Klitschko?"
This dream is real. We're actually getting to see what would happen if
Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather, Jr. But before you let somebody
on television tell you how much of a one-sided fight and how much of a
waste of money this fight will be, let me tell you
why this fight might not be terrible:
For one thing, the fight is taking place at 154 lbs (Super
Welterweight). This is somewhat surprising, considering Mayweather's
history that most of his recent fights have been at 147 lbs
(Welterweight) and McGregor's history that he's had to struggle and
suffer to cut to 145 lbs to fight in the UFC's Featherweight division.
Most people probably expected that Mayweather would make McGregor cut
the weight. But considering that Mayweather is coming out of retirement to
take this fight, even though the man seems to be in shape, cutting to
147 lbs might not have been very easy or fun for him either. This will make a big difference in the fighters' conditions. 7 pounds
might not seem like that big of a difference to some, but believe me,
to a fighter's health, hydration, muscle mass, and power, 7 pounds means a lot.
As alluded to before, McGregor stands a
fighting chance because he's a proficient stand-up fighter. He has a long reach, very
fast hands, and has shown knockout power in both hands. He is tenacious
and determined, and it seems as though he has been planning for this
fight for a while, so he's undoubtedly put a lot of time into training
and studying for this fight. And to be honest, no matter what happens I
couldn't see this fight being much more disappointing than 9 out of 10
of Mayweather's last 10 fights, including the Pacquiao fight. But in the
interest of fairness we should also discuss
why this fight might be terrible:
One has to admit that this fight is pretty gimmicky. One has to
concede that Mayweather has dispatched many fighters that are all
(probably) better than McGregor. Because although McGregor's hands are
good, his footwork is only slightly above average. You need to have
considerably above average footwork to box at the top level. Another
highly relevant detail is the difference between MMA gloves and boxing
gloves. In the UFC, fighters wear small 4-ounce gloves with fingerholes,
allowing most of a formed fist and knuckles to make contact with every
punch. Boxers lace up 10-ounce gloves that fully encompass their fists
with padding. This is quite an adjustment for a fighter, especially one
who's never boxed professionally.
McGregor will probably be
looking to put a lot of power into his shots, and is known as a deadly
accurate puncher, but he's never tried to punch Mayweather. McGregor is
likely to miss a lot of those power shots, and might over-exert his energy and punch himself out.
And no matter who Floyd is facing, Floyd is Floyd...this is the most
elusive, frustrating, do-anything-to-win fighter of all time. He'll
probably get his hand raised in the end because we've never seen
anything else from the man.
But this is a very different fight
than anything we've seen before. It's very different from any boxing
match, any MMA bout, any combat sporting event ever held, and it has to
be judged under a different lens. This is the biggest crossover fight
ever made. This is a conjunction of two massive and closely related
fighting organizations represented by two of its most recognizable
stars. This is history in the making, and the money will rain, not only
for the fighters, but for the commission, the city of Las Vegas,
Showtime, all the sponsors, and all the sporting outlets. In financial
terms, this event will move mountains. Considering the money and the
magnitude of the event, and considering how unlikely the occurance of
the fight was in the first place, the real fight is already won.
am I excited for this fight? Not extremely, or at least not for the
fight itself. Do I have high expectations for this fight? Not really,
I'm guessing it probably won't even be one of the 10 best fights of the
year when all is said and done. Am I invested? Oh, absolutely. I am
intrigued and enthralled and impressed more so than for any other fight
announcement ever made. I am absolutely on board, for the spectacle, for
the ride. And it seems as though the rest of the sports world is on board as
Edit #1: 2017/08/23, 3 days before the fight
A few significant changes and events have happened over the course of the past few months:
- The cost of the pay-per-view for this fight for United States viewers has been officially set at $89 USD. It costs an additional $10 to order the fight in Hi-Definition. These are the same cost values as the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
- The undercard is being headlined by one of Mayweather's star pupils, 22-year old Gervonta Davis. Davis has a professional record of 18-0 with 17 finishes (knockout or technical knockout). He will be defending his IBF Junior Lightweight title (130 lbs, 59 kg) against 23-year old Puerto Rican Francisco Fonseca, who is 19-0-1 professionally. Also on the undercard, Nathan Cleverly will be making the first defense of his WBA Light Heavyweight title (175 lbs, 79 kg) against Badou Jack, and Andrew Taviti will face Steve Cunningham for the vacant USBA Cruiserweight title (200 lbs, 91 kg). These 3 fights, as well as Mayweather-McGregor of course, make up the main card for the event and will be shown on the PPV.
The preliminary bouts for the event which make up the rest of the undercard are as follows: Thomas Dulorme vs. Yordenis Ugás (Welterweight, 147 lbs, 67 kg); Juan Heraldez vs. Jose Miguel Borrego (Welterweight); Kevin Newman vs. Antonio Hernandez (Super Middleweight, 168 lbs, 76 kg); and Savannah Marshall vs. Sydney LeBlanc (Super Middleweight).
- In July, Mayweather and McGregor embarked on a "World Tour" of press conferences and public appearances to speak publically and promote the event. To dub it a world tour might be a little excessive, as there were only 4 stops in 4 days between July 11 and July 14. First in Los Angeles, California, then Toronto, Canada, then Brooklyn, New York, and finally in London, England. To sum up the events, there was a lot of talk, a lot of antics, a lot of machismo and profanity, and a lot of people were excited or offended or both.
- Opening betting odds to the fight saw Mayweather as the -1100 favorite with McGregor as the +700 underdog. Those numbers have changed dramatically. McGregor's odds started to see significant drops almost immediately, particularly after the world tour and throughout the month of July. By the end of July, Mcgregor's odds were hovering between 4-1 and 5-1, and ESPN reported that 93% of betting tickets purchased and 76% of the total money wagered was for McGregor, which has shifted the odds considerably. As of this morning, August 23rd, Mayweather sits as a -460 favorite and McGregor comes in at a +340 underdog. From 7-1 to 3-1 for the underdog and from 1-11 to 1-5 for the favorite in the span of 11 weeks. That's pretty remarkable movement for such a high profile fight with such lopsided statistics.
- Mayweather suggested through social media that the fighters use 8 ounce gloves as opposed to 10 ounce gloves for the event. Although this change would seem to favor McGregor, Mayweather basically acknowledged this, saying in his post that he was willing to make the accommodation. On August 16, The Nevada State Athletic Commission voted in favor of the change in glove size, making the change official.
3 days away, and things are becoming more and more intriguing. It was basically expected that most of the public would be cheering for McGregor to win this fight, but now it seems as though they're counting on it, literally betting on it? So far the media coverage for the event has shown McGregor to be training hard with laser focus, and has shown Mayweather to be very lackadaisical, not seeming to take the fight very seriously at all. But of course, both men are professionals, both men are obviously training and preparing for the fight in their own ways, and it's foolish to simply believe what you're shown through video exclusives and media coverage, especially in fighters' training camps which are traditionally kept very low profile. There haven't been too many updates about the projections of the total gross earnings for the event or for the fighters, except for Mayweather saying in one interview he had the potential to make $350 million from this fight. But with the betting odds and earnings being what they are, I expect the PPV numbers and promotional/advertising/sponsorship revenue to follow suit in exceeding expectations.
So far so crazy.
Edit #2: Post-fight
So much for suspense. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. defeated Conor McGregor via technical knockout in the 10th round of a scheduled 12.
It was not without some measure of controversy. At the beginning of the 9th round McGregor opened with a flurry that seemed to hurt Mayweather and sent him backpedaling into the ropes. Referee Robert Byrd stalled the action of the fight, warning McGregor for throwing low blows, which he clearly did not. Mayweather seemed to gather his composure and finished off the fatigued McGregor in the next round.
Many of McGregor's fans and detractors alike were somewhat impressed by his showing, especially in the first 4 rounds. McGregor dictated the pace early, and narrowly missed some punches, most notably some uppercuts, that could've been devastating. With that being said, Mayweather gradually gained control and moved forward with his head tucked, working jabs, body shots, and counter punches that accumulated through the middle rounds of the fight. McGregor complained, though not vehemently, about the stoppage, saying in effect that he would rather go out on his shield than have the fight stopped without even having been knocked down. According to him, the punches Mayweather was throwing were not so damaging, it's just that McGregor was naturally fatigued in the 9th and 10th rounds.
The numbers in sales did not manage to eclipse the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but was clearly and dominantly the second most financially successful boxing match of all time. The total gross was more than $600 million. The event sold 4.6 million Pay-Per-View units, and broke sales records and viewership records in many international countries, including Spain, Ireland, and the United Kingdom where the event was broadcast at approximately 04:00 on Sunday morning, as well as Canada and Australia. The live gate for the event was >$55.4 million, still a whopping $17 million less than the Mayweather-Pacquiao event, but again still a clear second place and nothing to sneeze at.
In early 2018 the prevailing rumor, as teased by Mayweather on social media, is that he's planning to take a fight with Conor McGregor in the UFC's octagon in a Mixed Martial Arts fight. I'll believe it when I see it, but the reality and the success of the first event goes to show you never can tell.