Floyd Mayweather’s pride is now the only thing standing in the way of a Conor McGregor fight – Yahoo Sports
It would be one of the more ludicrous events in combat sports history, but it may also be one of the most lucrative.
A Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match has been bandied about for a while now. It went from farcical to mildly possible Friday, even if the Mayweather camp is already bashing it.
UFC president Dana White went on Colin Cowherd’s radio show and made Mayweather an offer – $25 million each for Mayweather and McGregor, plus a split of the pay-per-view numbers “at a certain point.” No details were given on the PPV money, but White said he projects such a fight could garner between 2.3 and 2.5 million sales – huge numbers. That could mean $50-60 million for each guy, maybe more, maybe a lot more.
The whole thing is ridiculous because this would be a boxing match and Mayweather is a 49-0, nine-time world champion boxer who would enter the ring as a profound favorite. For two decades, the best boxers in the world have tried and failed to land much more than a random glove on Mayweather. He’s slipped them all. He’s one of the finest in the sport’s history.
McGregor is a big-punching mixed martial arts star but far from an elite boxer. If the script was flipped and this was a MMA contest, then McGregor would hold the overwhelming advantage.
In other words, this is easy money for Mayweather. Or at least it should be viewed that way. And yet, the fight still may not happen because the pay would be equal between the fighters, which runs counter to the culture of boxing where the bigger star gets the bigger cut.
“That’s one of the silliest things I’ve heard in some time,” Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole on Friday. “Floyd is the biggest star in anything combat sports. Dana White or anybody else can’t offer Floyd Mayweather [expletive].”
Mayweather told ESPN earlier in the week that his number to come out of retirement is $100 million guaranteed. He said he would need that to fight McGregor and was willing to guarantee $15 million for the Irishman. Mayweather is holding to the culture of boxing where the bigger name fighter gets a bigger cut of the pie.
“We’re the A-side,” Mayweather said. “Of course we’re the A-side.”
White took issue with that, noting that McGregor’s last two pay-per-views drew 1.3 and 1.5 million respectively (although he isn’t the only reason they sold so well). Mayweather has fought just once since his bout with Manny Pacquiao that made huge revenue but infuriated bored customers. The Pacquiao fight did a record 4.4 million pay-per-view buys. Mayweather’s next (and last) fight against Andre Berto managed just 350,000.
“I don’t know how you think you’re the A-side,” White said.
Which is why White offered an even split. He knows Mayweather is unlikely to go for it. For the Berto fight, Mayweather was guaranteed $32 million and all of the pay-per-view money. It was a lopsided contract. So now he’s going to take a lower guarantee here? Pride matters to Mayweather.
Ellerbe claimed McGregor made just $3 million in his last fight, a number White disputed, saying McGregor had been paid over $10 million for UFC fights. Mainly, though, this is about who gets to control the negotiations.
“The last fighter who dictated terms to Floyd was Oscar De La Hoya (in 2007) and when Floyd beat him, we used that as a launching pad to become our own boss and dictate terms,” Ellerbe said. “Every fighter after that, we told them what they would be paid.”
Fine. Pride matters.
It shouldn’t though. Mayweather often acts in a reprehensible manner but he is a savvy businessman. His antics, resolve and hardline negotiations helped turn a light-punching, defense-oriented fighter into the biggest draw in his sport.
Now he ought to just cash in on it.
While it is unlikely Mayweather would make the fight under these terms, he’s a fool if he doesn’t – or at least doesn’t negotiate a little bit. There is almost no risk here. His skill level makes him virtually unbeatable against a non-professional boxer.
His work ethic is likewise unparalleled. As long as he takes this fight as seriously as the previous 49, then there are tens of millions of dollars sitting in a Vegas boxing ring for him to jab and move and win. He likely could get McGregor so twisted up that he could hit him hard enough to stop the fight.
Again, this is silly, almost as silly as when Ronda Rousey was trying to claim she’d beat Floyd Mayweather.
It’s a fight, so anything can happen. And McGregor is a crafty and excellent athlete. Still, there isn’t a more likely victory for Mayweather to get to 50-0 and retire again.
Mayweather’s prospects for $50 million (let alone $100 million) boxing matches are seriously limited. Rematches with Pacquiao or Canelo Alverez perhaps. It’s definitely there if he moved up in weight to fight Gennady Golovkin, but that presents all sorts of danger.
He can mock McGregor all he wants, but the UFC is a massive marketing force with a built-in global audience. McGregor is its biggest star, with a career and promotional style that mirrors Mayweather’s angle. He can attract an international audience from Europe to Brazil, not to mention smack talk his way into the pocket of every curious bystander.
The hype for this fight would be incredible, even if the fight itself looks so non-competitive. It’s a circus.
“We like making fights people are interested in,” White said, claiming that it wouldn’t hurt the UFC or McGregor if his guy lost to Mayweather in a boxing match. “We like putting on entertaining events. As long as people who buy the tickets or the pay-per-views are happy.”
White said he’d build an entire UFC card around the fight, including a major title fight from the promotion. That way he could assure customers the UFC’s typical three hours of entertainment even if the main event is a dud (which sometimes happens). Boxing tends to do nothing on prelim cards and then if the headliner is boring, fans are disappointed.
“Do I think Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is the best fight you’ve ever seen?” White said. “Not really. But it would be exciting.”
The chance of this going down remains remote. The hurdle is Mayweather’s pride. No one thinks he’ll take equal money with an MMA star that isn’t in his class.
He ought to prove them wrong, win easy and laugh all the way to the bank one last time.
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