The world’s highest-paid athlete is headed for the biggest payday of his career. Floyd Mayweather announced Friday night via the Shots social sharing site that he will put his undefeated record on the line and face off against Manny Pacquiao in the ring on May 2 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The tortured negotiations between the two boxers and their respective camps have dragged on for six years, but the sport’s biggest draws will finally clash with HBO and Showtime both broadcasting the fight on pay-per-view. “What the world has been waiting for has arrived,” Mayweather wrote on the Shots app in which he is an investor.
The fight will be just the second joint PPV telecast between Showtime, which has Mayweather (47-0) under contract, and HBO, which counts Pacquiao (57-5-2) in its boxing stable. The fierce rivals in the premium cable business came together in 2002 to jointly sell Mike Tyson (Showtime fighter) versus Lennox Lewis (HBO) with HBO earning the rights to the replay after Lewis’ knockout win. The May fight will be co-promoted by Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions.Mayweather vs Pacquiao Live Stream
“Everyone involved, including Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, knows this fight simply had to happen. All of us are thrilled to be able to deliver this event to boxing fans around the world,” said Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza in a statement. Espinoza credited Les Moonves, the CEO of Showtime’s parent CBS CBS +0.29%, for the fight coming together. “He was really the catalyst for seeing this deal through and refused to take no for an answer from any side,” said Espinoza in a media call discussing the announcement. “This is the biggest boxing event of all-time,” said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman. “We look forward to May 2. It is going to be a spectacular night for this sport and for HBO and Showtime as well.”
Mayweather, who turns 38 next week, and Pacquiao, 36, had a chance encounter three weeks ago when both showed up at a Miami Heat home game. They were courtside and exchanged numbers at halftime. Pacquiao said it was the first time the two had ever met. They met privately after the game in Pacquiao’s hotel suite. Espinoza thinks the meeting was key to making the fight happen. “I believe that the direct line of communication between Floyd and Manny cleared up a lot of doubts on both of their minds and renewed their commitment to getting this fight done,” said Espinoza.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao will almost certainly shatter the records for PPV buys (2.5 million for Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya), PPV revenue ($150 million for Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez) and live gate ($20 million for Mayweather-Alvarez). Mayweather and Pacquiao will split the purse 60/40 in Mayweather’s favor. Reports have circulated that the fighters will earn $150 million (Mayweather) and $100 million (Pacquiao), but those figures might be optimistic unless PPV buys go crazy. The fighters are more likely to earn $120 million and $80 million, respectively.
The fight will mark the fifth bout in the blockbuster six-fight contract Mayweather signed with Showtime in February 2013. He earned $170 million for the first four fights of the deal, including his share of PPV receipts. Mayweather’s biggest payday of his career was for his September 2013 fight against Alvarez billed as “The One.” Mayweather pocketed roughly $75 million with Alvarez earning $12 million in a fight that was the top-grossing fight in boxing history with $200 million in revenue from PPV, tickets, sponsors and international media rights. The huge payday made Mayweather only the second athlete ever after Tiger Woods to earn $100 million during the course of one year. Pacquiao’s biggest purse was the $30 million he banked for his third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2011. The Ma2 fight is a one-fight deal and there is no rematch clause in the contract.
The PPV cost for Mayweather-Pacquiao is expected to approach $100 for the hi-def version versus the usual price of $75 for a boxing PPV event thanks to the heavy demand. Three million PPV buys at $100 would produce around $150 million towards the purse (cable operators keep roughly 50% of the cost and HBO/Showtime are entitled to a small sliver). Four million buys generates $200 million for the fighters.
There are other significant other revenue streams. The gate will top $40 million with all of the tickets likely to be priced somewhere between $1,000 and $4,000 at Mayweather’s home away from home, the MGM Grand, where he has fought his previous 10 bouts (Mayweather-Alvarez tickets cost $350 to $2,000 and sold out in a day). Expenses will also run high, but ultimately the final purses for the fighters will be determined by the PPV audience. Three million is certainly attainable. If the fight can draw in casual sports fans, then four million is on the table.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are the two biggest PPV stars of their generation with gross PPV sales of $1.6 billion from their fights on roughly 28 million buys. One thing working against the bout: two months is a short promotion time for a fight of this magnitude. “The One” was announced almost three months before Mayweather and Alvarez fought and two fighters engaged in a cross-country promotional tour.
Online sports book Bovada has had a betting line on Mayweather-Pacquiao for more than a one month with the caveat it must take place May 2 or May 3. Bettors are currently required to put up $285 on the favored Mayweather to win $100 ($100 on Pacquiao nets $225). The money angle of this fight will be almost as big a storyline as what happens in the ring. To that end, you can bet on the over/under of the PPV audience at Bovada with the current benchmark at 3.15 million buys.
Many details of the fight still need to be fleshed out like the announcing teams (HBO’s Jim Lampley and Showtime’s Al Bernstein are the favorites), ticket pricing (it will be high), PPV pricing, promotional shows (All Access vs. 24/7) and the replay rights to the fight, but the fight contracts are signed and sealed. The Mayweather-Pacquiao bout is taking place five years too late for some, but it still promises to be the richest fight in the history of boxing and will go a long way towards determining who was the greatest fighter of the era