Showtime Exec: Mayweather-McGregor Could Surpass Reach of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

By Tristen Critchfield Jun 15, 2017
When it comes to pay-per-view numbers, money and overall impact, all parties involved believe that Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor has the potential to be among the biggest fights ever in combat sports.

The measuring stick, of course, is Mayweather’s 2015 bout against Manny Pacquiao, which drew more than 4.4 million pay-per-view buys and generated more than $400 million. While Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was a matchup that took years to make, “Money’s” looming showdown with McGregor has a different feel.

“We’re not only drawing fans from the universe of boxing and the universe MMA fans. We’ve actually tapped into the audience that doesn’t follow either sport,” Showtime Sports Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza said during a recent conference call. “This is such an unprecedented event, such a spectacle that all of a sudden people who have never really been interested in either 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.”

Added UFC President Dana White, “I think this fight is bigger globally than Mayweather-Pacquiao was.”

The fight itself did not live up to the hype that preceded Mayweather-Pacquiao, as “Money” cruised to a unanimous verdict in a bout that was lacking in terms of memorable action. Still, the the pay-per-view buy rate suggests that plenty of people were willing to shell nearly $100 to witness the bout. Floyd Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, has noticed enough interest in the McGregor fight to be convinced that it could financially surpass that landmark contest.

“Why not? Obviously with Mayweather-Pacquiao..that was a fight fans had been talking about for years,” Ellerbe said. “There’s not one place that I go to, that Floyd goes to, that anybody associated with Floyd Mayweather [goest to], that [someone] doesn’t ask the question, ‘Floyd, are you going to fight Conor McGregor?’ This is a very, very hot fight, and this is the fight that the fans want. It’s going to be a tremendous event.”

The interest in Mayweather vs. Pacquiao led to an $89.95 pay-per-view fee — with a $10 upcharge for high definition. While prices haven’t yet been set for Mayweather-McGregor, all signs point to it being more costly than the average UFC or boxing event. White disputed the notion that viewers balked at the high price of the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout, using the pay-per-view figures as evidence.

“When you talk about superfights, this is a superfight. Two different guys from two different sports going in and putting it on the line,” White said. “Obviously you can’t charge what you normally charge for a pay-per-view, I get it. Saying that there was pushback on the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight? There was anything but. It’s the biggest fight ever in the history of pay-per-view.”

Although nobody can predict exactly how well Mayweather vs. McGregor will draw, expectations are understandably high. Both fighters have consistently performed well at the box office and are the biggest stars in their respective sports. With that in mind, Espinoza isn’t putting a cap on what kind of numbers the fight can produce.

“To tell you the truth the sky is the limit. We have what is truly an unprecedented event. There’s nothing to compare it against,” he said. “We’ve never seen this kind of competition in the ring. We’ve never seen these types of personalities get together in promotion. And we’ve never seen a combat sports event, or really a sporting event of this magnitude. What that means, we’re gonna have our calculators ready and all the batteries charged. The sky’s the limit.”

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