Mayweather vs. McGregor is expected to do historic numbers, but are those expectations too high even for showmen like “Money” and “The Notorious?”
The super fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is supposed to be the biggest event in combat sports this year, and arguably of all time. The bout pits the biggest draw in boxing against the absolute hottest ticket in mixed martial arts. Both men are experts in their craft, and brilliant showmen and promoters in their own right. They have become household names by galvanizing fanbases in ways very few fighters have ever been able to do and the collision between the two is expected to do historical numbers. Why then, does it feel as if there are now tentative expectations as the super fight draws closer?
First, the reports of ticket sales doing poorly are a sign that promoters overestimated the market. Prices are astronomical, even by blockbuster fight standards. By comparison, the hotly anticipated boxing match-up between Canelo Alvarez and “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin has been sold out almost since the tickets went on sale. Before conclusions are jumped to, it should be noted that prices for Canelo/GGG are far lower than those for Mayweather/McGregor.
Mayweather promoter Leonard Ellerbe has stated that sales are doing well, and adjusting for inflation they most likely are. Ticket prices are significantly higher. As such, the super fight does not need to sell nearly as many tickets in order to surpass the gate of Canelo/GGG.
This does not change the fact that increasing reports do not bode well for a sold out T-Mobile Arena. There are still hundreds of seats available with the fight now two weeks away. More recently, the re-sale market has spiked indicating that demand to go to the fight in person is lower than anticipated. On another note, reports that tickets are now available at Costco feel more like a prank than a way to boost sales. Simply put: if the fight was sold out, would there even be a chance that tickets found their way to Costco regardless of whether that was the plan or not?
The $100 dollar tag for the pay-per-view has many fans balking at the price. The previous $100 super fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao left many fans feeling cheated as the bout failed to please fans. That fight was between two of the best boxers of a generation. McGregor may yet become an all-time great mixed martial artist, but it does not change the fact that he is 0-0 as a boxer taking on the man many believe is the best of his era. Getting fans to cough up that price again with less of a guarantee of fireworks is going to be a tough sell, even if the salesman is “The Notorious.”
Even Mayweather has seen the need to address the issue, speaking to ESPN in an exclusive interview in which he states he will push the action against McGregor to make it an exciting fight. He even states that he feels the obligation to do so for those who criticized the Pacquiao fight.
In the last week, promotion has hit more of a frenzy. The dissolution of the partnership between McGregor and former two-weight champion Paul Malignaggi has led to the now exaggeratedly discussed video of the apparent knockdown. While the story has played out like a reality show, it has all been in favor of McGregor. Fans and professionals alike are declaring the exchange in question a knockdown, which boils down to more faith in McGregor’s boxing skills at the end of the day.
Finally, the undercard has been released for the super card. Unlike the bout with Pacquiao which featured only two other televised fights beside the main event, this card features several matches involving several of the top up-and-coming stars in boxing. While fans will certainly appreciate more boxing for their hard earned money, it is yet to be seen what impact it will have when it comes time to buy the fight.
The final factor may well be timing. The UFC is coming off an incredible July in which they put on their annual Independence Day weekend event and the stacked UFC 214 super card. Just three weeks after Mayweather vs McGregor will be Canelo vs Golovkin. With mixed expectations for McGregor’s boxing debut, will fans have decided to invest their money on a safer event by the time the summer is over?
The fight has been projected to do historic numbers, breaking the Mayweather vs Pacquiao record and setting a new precedent for what a constitutes a super fight in the modern era. The question will be, can McGregor inspire enough confidence to get fans to shell out that much money for PPV? It is far easier to have faith that “The Notorious” will find a way to catch the boxing legend with a powerful shot than to think that Mayweather will miss a step for the first time in 50 fights. If there is any fighter who can inspire that kind of belief in a fan base to spend that much money, it is McGregor. Will he be able to get a historic number of fans to tune in, however, is the real question.