The idea of a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor has been bouncing around for quite some time now. Mayweather and McGregor are two of the biggest names in boxing and UFC, respectively – a fight between them would certainly bring in a huge draw.
Would it be enough money to make this the most lucrative fight of all time? When Mayweather – whose nickname is, appropriately, "Money" – fought Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, the fight brought in $623.5 million. That's the current record; so, could a bout with McGregor have an even higher take?
A group of ticket brokers, sports marketers and boxing experts compared the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight with the potential Mayweather/McGregor fight to see which one would reign supreme. They looked at projected ticket sales, pay-per-view sales, merchandise sales, sponsorship sales, and betting in Nevada. How do the two fights stack up?
Mayweather/Pacquiao: $79.1 million
Mayweather/McGregor (projected): $77.1 million
The average ticket price for Mayweather/Pacquiao was $4,451. In total, 16,219 tickets were sold at MGM Arena. The pair made an additional $6.9 million from closed-circuit viewing.
Mayweather/McGregor would likely be at MGM Arena in Las Vegas, which has an additional 3,200 seats to fill. However, this isn't a title match, it's more of a spectacle. Celebrities will likely turn up in droves, but it might be harder to get true boxing fans to attend, which will cause the average ticket price to drop. One advantage for McGregor is that he has a large European following, so he can draw a bigger international crowd than Pacquiao did. But will they actually flock to Vegas for the fight?
Mayweather/Pacquiao: $455 million
Mayweather/McGregor (projected): $475 million
The average price of the Mayweather/Pacquiao PPV was $99. A whopping 4.6 million people bought that fight. Incredibly, Mayweather/McGregor might have even more people tuning in via PPV, with both boxing and UFC fans checking it out. The fight can likely charge a similar $100 PPV price tag.
The main deterrent here is that fans were disappointed by the May 2015 fight. Some Pay-Per-View fans sued Pacquiao and his promoters at Top Rank for a lackluster effort. That lawsuit gained a bit of ground after it was revealed Pacquiao had been fighting with a prior injury.
Mayweather/Pacquiao: $1 million
Mayweather/McGregor (projected): $2 million
Boxing fights don't often generate a ton of merchandise sales, so it's pretty impressive that Mayweather and Pacquiao were able to sell $1 million worth of merchandise. Of course, the driving factor is Mayweather's spectacular merchandising machine – he has trademarks and trademark filings for more than 60 phrases.
Expect to see plenty of "50-0" shirts, hats, and other merchandise if the Mayweather/McGregor fight happens. That will be Mayweather's record if he defeats McGregor, so he'll be sure to get a lot of mileage out of it. McGregor's clout casts a wide net, as well. Paired with the UFC's marketing power, this fight could reasonably double what Mayweather/Pacquiao made.
Mayweather/Pacquiao: $18.4 million
Mayweather/McGregor (projected): $22 million
Five different sponsors paid $13.2 million to sponsor the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight. Tecate dished out $5.6 million, and three movies – Terminator Genisys, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and Southpaw – sponsored the fight, as well. On top of that, Pacquiao received $2.25 million from his trunk sponsors. Mayweather also earned an extra $1 million from Hublot and FanDuel to make an appearance on his shorts and took home an additional $1 million from Burger King simply by having the King as part of his crew when he walked into the arena. It's unclear if the King ever served as a sparring partner with Mayweather.
That's already an impressive total haul, but Mayweather/McGregor has a crossover draw that could allow it to reach even greater heights. The fight will likely have an alcohol sponsor of some kind, either another beer company like Tecate or a whiskey company to capitalize off of McGregor's name. With both fans of boxing and UFC tuning in, as well as some casual fans that want to see if the fight lives up to the hype, expect several sponsors to try and get a piece of the action.
For the individual fighters and their trunks, Mayweather will likely live up to his nickname and don the logos of the highest bidders on his shorts. McGregor's potential earnings could be limited by what Reebok will allow him to do with his trunks. Even if they don't let him put another sponsor on his shorts, the sponsorship sales for Mayweather/McGregor should surpass Mayweather/Pacquiao.
Betting in Nevada
Mayweather/Pacquiao: $70 million
Mayweather/McGregor (projected): $30 million
This is the segment where Mayweather/Pacquiao blows the competition out of the water. It's difficult to pinpoint the exact numbers because boxing is part of the "other" category of the gaming commission report. However, in May 2015, the time of the fight, the "other" category total gambling pot was $81 million. A healthy estimate is that $70 million of that was put towards Mayweather/Pacquiao.
The Mayweather/McGregor fight, meanwhile, might not even make half of that amount. There are a number of reasons for this: Mayweather opened up at a 25-1 favorite, so bettors would have to pay a lot of money just to receive a small return. They would also have to be unsure of the crossover for both fighters, particularly with McGregor trying his hand at boxing. Finally, since this fight isn't for a title, fewer bettors will participate.
Mayweather/Pacquiao: $623.5 million
Mayweather/McGregor (projected): $606.1 million
Though it will likely have the advantage in a few areas, the fact that so many people bet on Mayweather/Pacquiao hurts the Mayweather/McGregor fight. It will still be an incredibly lucrative event, though, and the hype around it will only continue to grow.