For nearly six years Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and their respective camps traded jabs outside the ring as the public yearned to see the sport’s two biggest stars face-off. The two boxers finally squared off last month after a series of tortured negotiations. Was it worth the wait? Most boxing fans would argue no, as Pacquiao delivered a listless performance, no doubt impacted by a torn rotator cuff, and Mayweather put on his usual defensive clinic. But for the fighters and everyone involved in the bout, it was an absolute knockout from a financial perspective.
The fight smashed every financial record in the boxing books. The gate, with tickets ranging from $1,500 to $10,000, finished at $73 million despite tickets not going on sale until nine days before the May 2 fight. It was more than three-and-a-half times the previous high of $20 million for Mayweather’s 2013 fight against Canelo Alvarez. Total sponsorships clocked in at $13 million with brewer Tecate paying $5.6 million and outbidding Corona for branding rights to the center of the ring. The foreign TV rights sold for $35 million guaranteed, but the huge international viewership will push that to $50 million once all the eyeballs are counted.
The pay-per-view audience provided the biggest bonanza with everyone eyeing the 2007 Mayweather vs. De La Hoya bout, which generated 2.5 million buys. “We were expecting three million U.S. homes,” says Top Rank chief Bob Arum, who co-promoted last month’s fight with Mayweather Promotions. The insatiable appetite for the event instead delivered 4.4 million PPV buys in the U.S. and 700,000 in the U.K. Those numbers will continue to climb and will approach five million domestically and should top one million in the U.K., according to Arum. The record price tag of $100 for the HD version of the fight ($90 for standard-def) meant roughly $430 million in PPV revenue. It crushed the previous record of $150 million for Mayweather-Alvarez.
The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will generate $600 million in total once everything is counted from tickets, PPV, sponsorships, merchandise, closed-circuit and international rights. It was a record tally for a one-day sporting event and triple the previous high for a fight. The only thing comparable is the Super Bowl, which produced $500 million in revenue last year and ranks annually as the world’s most valuable sporting event brand.
The biggest winners of the May 2 bout: Mayweather and Pacquiao. Both fighters more than tripled their previous career-high paydays. Pacquiao grossed $125 million for his 36 minutes in the ring. Mayweather’s payday will top $240 million. “Floyd Mayweather just pulled off the biggest score in the history of sports and entertainment,” says Mayweather’s longtime confidante Leonard Ellerbe, who heads Mayweather Promotions.
Mayweather heads Forbes’ annual look at the world’s highest-paid athletes for the second year in a row and third time in four years. His $300 million in earnings over the last 12 months shatters the previous high of $115 million earned by Tiger Woods between June 2007 and June 2008.
What’s next for boxing’s dynamic duo? Pacquiao is sidelined for the rest of the year recovering from shoulder surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff. Arum says he will likely be back in the ring in March or April and potentially fighting in the Mid East. “We’ve had extremely productive discussions with people in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” says Arum.
Mayweather has one bout left on the blockbuster six-fight, 30-month contract he signed with Showtime in early 2013. “The deal has exceeded our wildest expectations,” says Showtime Sports chief Stephen Espinoza. “We couldn’t have predicted what a good partner Floyd would be in terms of his support of the events and his ability to market and promote not just his own programs but Showtime and CBS.” Espinoza says an announcement on Maywweather’s next opponent should come by the end of June. The champ says the Sept. 12 bout will be his last and he’ll walk away from the sport potentially with a 49-0 record matching Rocky Marciano.
source: forbes.com by Kurt Badenhausen