3,360 diamonds, 600 sapphires, 300 emeralds mounted in 1.5 kilos of solid 24k gold and set in green Italian alligator leather. It’s funny how well the gaudy, gimmicky ‘Money Belt’ embodies the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor contest. Not only is it an unintentional, three-decade old throwback to professional wrestler Ted DiBiase’s ‘Million Dollar Championship’ strap, it’s also needless.
Mayweather once said “boxing is tainted, watered down because of too many belts, too many champions.” By adding another belt, WBC has followed into the Nevada Commission’s footsteps to try and legitimise Saturday’s bout. The Sin City fight administrators first allowed a non-boxer to go a possible 12 rounds with a great defensive boxer, then passed an exemption to let them wear 8oz gloves, even as the Association of Ringside Physicians believe the fight puts McGregor’s health in danger.
It is even more injurious to UFC’s health.
In past, the MMA promotion has always struck down any notion of their stars trying their hand in other combat sports. Now, motivated by a short-term financial gain, they’ve allowed McGregor to box and put the proverbial golden goose at risk. Reports suggest that the UFC will get 20 per cent of McGregor’s purse and half of his PPV profits. If the fight manages to draw the target 5mn buys, UFC could end up $70mn richer. But this one swallow is not going to make their summer.
Last year, WME-IMG purchased UFC for $4.2bn from Zuffa, LLC (who bought it for $2mn in 2001), taking on more than $1.8bn in incremental debt. With a sizeable monthly service to be paid, the promotion needs huge pay-per-view numbers, which in turn requires white-hot stars. And McGregor is the biggest they have.
Ronda Rousey appears to be out of the game after two brutal defeats. Jon Jones, who headlined last month’s UFC 214 — the most successful outing in what has been a slow year for UFC — failed his third drug test this week and stands to be suspended for three years. Brock Lesnar — Jones’ potential opponent for another mega-fight — is 40 and already serving a suspension for failing drug test. To make matters worse, UFC’s need for big names and bigger fights and stunt-matchmaking has left many deserving fighters disenchanted and jumping ship to rival promotions.
McGregor, who has never even made $5mn in prize purse in the octagon, stands to make 20 times more against Mayweather. To keep him, UFC would have to pay up or accede to the Irishman’s demands for an equity stake. “I find it hard to believe that Conor will go back to UFC,” says pro-wrestling and MMA journalist and historian Dave Meltzer. “Boxing paydays are bigger than UFC paydays. It all depends on the fight. If he goes out there and embarrasses himself, he may have to go back. But if he does decently, he will look for more boxing paydays. I get the impression that he’s looking to box (Paulie) Malignaggi.”
Malignaggi, of course, has got a lot of mileage out of a sparring stint with ‘Team McGregor’. Tasked to help train McGregor, the former double world champion boxer alleged that he was set up and used to bolster the fighter’s image. He left the camp after a 12-round sparring session, photos and footage of which showed him being knocked down by McGregor. On Wednesday, the two got into an altercation at a press conference and two days later, Mayweather hinted that he asked the 36-year-old Malignaggi to work with McGregor to spy on him.
“My friend, it’s my friend, Paulie,” said Mayweather on Friday. “My friend Paulie has always been my friend. You know what, I even told my friend – my friend called me and said, ‘Floyd, do you want me to go to camp?’ I said, ‘Abso-f***ing-lutely’.”
Malignaggi earlier called McGregor “one of the biggest dirtbags I’ve ever met in my life — bar none. I don’t care if we never speak again. My life is fine if I never see Conor McGregor again,” — which could be boxing-speak for “I want to fight him and make some money.”
Aside from a grudge fight against Malignaggi, nothing’s stopping McGregor from calling out the winner of the Gennady Golovkin-Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez world middleweight championship bout — an actual boxing contest which could be hurt by its proximity to Saturday’s event.
“For the boxing fans, the GGG-Canelo is the biggest fight,” says Meltzer. “But it is only two weeks later (September 16). The Mayweather-Pacquaio fight affected other PPV sales for two months. Some simply might not buy another PPV so soon after spending $100 on one. If this fight is really bad, it could also put some boxing fans off.”
UFC president Dana White earlier said that the fight “will not damage the brand or Conor McGregor at all. The fact that this kid who has so much to lose is willing to step in and is absolutely confident that he will win this fight, I think is one of the many reasons that people love Conor McGregor. Whether he wins or loses, he will come out a much bigger star.”
Precisely why UFC should be alright with their guy losing quickly on Saturday.
Boxing purists and pundits have rightly denounced the fight as a joke. Mayweather and McGregor are the ones laughing all the way to the bank. Exact numbers and splits are tied up in a confidentiality agreement, conservative estimates expect total revenue to be around $700million (4,480cr) with a split of 70-30 in Mayweather’s favour.
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas has a capacity of around 20,000. The ringside seats are going for between $20,000 and $40,000. Ticket sales have been slow, but the number could touch the $90mn for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
The fight is being sold on PPV at $100 and is expected to break the Mayweather-Pacquiao record of $4.4mn.
A fight that began with Mayweather an 11-1 favorite is now 5-1 or even less in some sports books, thanks to a legion of MMA fans going for a longshot on the Irishman.
Rs. 2,556 crore & 640 crore
Mayweather should get a total around $400 million (2556 cr), enough to pay off his tax debts. McGregor should pocket at least $100 million (640cr) — a payday equivalent of 33 Wimbledon or 50 PGA Championship wins.