Many seats still unsold for Mayweather-McGregor fight
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor are both apt to flaunt their wealth outside the boxing ring and UFC octagon. And with ticket prices set for their Aug. 26 fight at one of the highest price points in sports history, both fighters are counting on those attending to do the same. Ringside seats cost $10,000 apiece at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the same price for a ticket to Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015. A mid-level ticket in the 20,000-plus-seat arena’s upper bowl will cost $3,500, while the cheapest ticket offered was $500, with those selling out quickly. Mayweather had a prominent voice in setting the prices — despite some objections by those more astute in the ticket-selling business. Still, Mayweather, his powerful fight manager Al Haymon and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe had reason to aim high in what’s expected to be the 40-year-old fighter’s farewell from the ring against the charismatic McGregor, a 6-1 underdog making his pro boxing debut. Their four-city international press tour to Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and London last month proved they’d captured the world’s attention as more than 10,000 fans appeared at each stop to hail and jeer the five-division champion Mayweather and recent two-belt UFC champion McGregor. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said AEG president Dan Beckerman, whose company staged three of the tour stops and counts T-Mobile Arena among its sports empire. “I was blown away by the response for the press conferences. It was clear that the demand for this fight was going to be incredible.” The question now is will that enthusiasm fill the arena? Officials connected to the public sale of tickets said that as of late last week, 3,000 seats remain, with brokers and ticketing agents estimating 4,000 more are still available to buy on their secondary market. That’s potentially as many as 7,000 tickets to go less than three weeks before fight night. “This money-grab fight is a promotion to see how much can be made off one night. When you see their commercial, hear (the participants) talk about the gate … it’s all about money,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the fight promoter and former six-division world champion staging a competing Southland fight card that same night and the Sept. 16 middleweight title match between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. “Yes, this is a business, but everyone’s forgetting about the fight, which MayweatherM-cGregor (have) not.” Those involved in the sales aren’t expressing deep concerns. “It’s getting unjustly beaten up in the press, but I’m seeing people buying tickets every day,” said Ken Solky, former president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers who heads a powerful ticket-brokerage agency, lasvegastickets.com and 1-800-LAS-VEGAS. “Let’s be honest: The place is going to be packed.” Solky said Mayweather gave him “10 per cent of the house,” just less than around 2,000 tickets, to sell on the secondary market. On Friday, Solky reported, “I just sold a package of seats for $496,000 an hour ago.” He said the 48 tickets averaged $10,333, with 28 ringside for $19,000 apiece and 20 upperlevel seats at $2,000, for a “corporate order on behalf of international clients.” “I made a handsome, tidy profit between my cost and sales price that falls nicely between my normal average of 20 to 30 per cent.” He declined to say how much of that profit he shares with Mayweather Promotions. Solky said the fighters, their camps and fight host MGM Resorts, which sets aside a number of tickets for their invited guests/gamblers who travel in to stay and bet at MGM properties, “take up to 70 per cent” of tickets. The ticket price has already fuelled high live-gate sales that are expected to surpass the fight-record $72 million that Mayweather drew by defeating Pacquiao. This is despite a steep face-value price upgrade for UFC fans used to spending $500 for a good seat. It’ll cost quite a bit more for people looking to get a ticket this close to the fight. As of Monday afternoon, the cheapest ticket available on StubHub was $1,800 for the upper level of the arena. “Dude, we’re over $60 million in ticket sales,” UFC president Dana White said Thursday. “Do you know the best year ever for the UFC — for 44 events — was $80 million? “The biggest Super Bowl in history was $103 million. We’re going to be pretty close to the biggest one-day record. And if you think about the NFL ... it’s 32 teams selling tickets to their season-ticket holders, and the Super Bowl’s in a ... stadium and we’re in a ... arena. How the ... can you be disappointed in that? That’s insane. Amazing. And people are going to start coming into town and buying the rest of the tickets soon.” White admits there’s been far more discussion about the personalities of Mayweather and McGregor and the things they’re saying versus the typical dissection of how each man can win. Like many boxing purists scoffing at the matchup, De La Hoya takes satisfaction in the number of unsold Mayweather-McGregor tickets as his Golden Boy Promotions stages an Aug. 26 boxing match at StubHub Center headlined by former four-division world champion Miguel Cotto versus Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai. De La Hoya said he expects his card to break the StubHub Center attendance boxing record with more than 7,000 tickets sold. “The fact that the boxing fan is behind our promotion and that we’re going to do close to a million homes on HBO is proof boxing people still want to watch a pure, competitive fight,” De La Hoya said. “McGregor is stepping inside a ring he’s never stepped into in his life against the best boxer of our generation. “What makes me think he has a chance? Because he knocks out, taps out, chokes out or kicks MMA fighters? He’s not going to be able to do that against Mayweather. Because he hits hard? (In losses to Mayweather), Miguel Cotto hit hard. I hit hard. Manny Pacquiao and (Marcos) Maidana hit hard. It’s not about that. It’s about having experience in the ring and McGregor has none. He has no chance whatsoever.” Even Solky concedes fans “are spending a lot of money and I can’t even say it’s going to be because of a great boxing match.” “There’s no question this is a spectacle, a once-in-a-lifetime matchup between crossover stars that runs a lot of lines from USA vs. Ireland, African American and Caucasian, MMA fan vs. boxing purists.”
Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and UFC fighter Conor McGregor come face to face during the World Press Tour at SSE Arena in London, England, last month.