Many seats still un­sold for May­weather-McGregor fight

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - BY LANCE PUGMIRE

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, lasve­g­a­stick­ 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.

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