Conor McGregor has set plenty of gate and pay-per-view records in MMA, and he might just achieve similar things in boxing.
The UFC lightweight champion has been booked to fight fellow megastar and boxing all-time great Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing contest on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. This is a never-before-seen kind of matchup. McGregor and Mayweather are by far the biggest names in their respective sports. Many believe that the Irishman and Mayweather can set the record for the most successful pay-per-view event in combat sports history, which is currently held by Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was built up for almost five years, and their highly anticipated fight finally became a reality in 2015, setting the a new mark in combat sports with around 4.5 million pay-per-view buys and a gate of $72 million. Despite the jaw-dropping numbers, the men behind the McGregor-Mayweather super fight are confident the record can be broken.
“Of course, why not?” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said on the Mayweather vs. McGregor media conference call on Wednesday. “You have to understand, obviously, with Mayweather and Pacquiao – and Stephen [Espinoza] can attest on this – is that that was a fight that fans had talked about for years. There’s not one place that I go to that, that Floyd goes to, or that anyone affiliated with Floyd that asked the question, ‘Floyd, are you going to fight Conor McGregor?’ This is a very, very, very hot fight, and it’s a fight that the fans want. It’s going to be a tremendous event.”
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager at Showtime Sports, believes that McGregor and Mayweather are attracting a different kind of audience that the fight with Pacquiao wasn’t able to reach. Espinoza believes that to be the reason why this boxing contest on Aug. 26 will top the previous record.
“We’re not only drawing fans from the universe of boxing and the universe of MMA,” Espinoza explained. “We’ve actually tapped into the audience that really doesn’t follow either sport. This is such an unprecedented event that people that have never really been interested in boxing or MMA are interested in this event due to the nature of the competition and the nature of these two personalities. That’s an untapped part of the market that not even Mayweather-Pacquiao touched.”
Immediately after Espinoza’s comments, UFC president Dana White added that the fight with McGregor would also benefit off the mistakes made by Showtime, HBO and Mayweather Promotions in the making of the superfight with Pacquiao.
“They could’ve not f*cked that thing up worse with how late they got these tickets out,” White said. “I was actually a guy who got tickets and I couldn’t get the tickets the week of the fight. It became this thing were it was so impossible to get tickets, that after you already paid for them, that people started canceling their rooms and all kind of things.
“The beautiful thing about the disaster that was that fight, was that I think everybody learned from it, and it won’t happen again. I think that fight was so big and everybody was going so crazy about it, that a lot of mistakes were made that cost them money, which is hilarious to say because that’s the biggest money-making fight of all time. So I think that we gain from the mistakes that were made and the knowledge that they have now of what went wrong with that fight.”