Mayweather vs. McGregor: Will We Ever See a Bigger Fight?
Unless you live on Saturn, you are probably aware that Floyd Mayweather ran his record to a perfect 50-0 by defeating Conor McGregor in the year’s most highly-anticipated fight last Saturday in Las Vegas. Boxing may no longer be as popular as it once was, but these kinds of once-in-a-decade type of matchups still garner massive worldwide interest.
All eyes were on Vegas over the weekend when McGregor, who typically plies his craft in the octagon, decided to try and become the first man to defeat Mayweather in a formal setting. He came up short, of course, but the fight was more hotly-contested than most anticipated beforehand. McGregor wound up losing on a TKO decision in the bout’s 10th round.
Despite historically long odds, bettors were not afraid to back the bombastic Irishman in his first boxing match. Kevin Bradley, who is the manager of Bovada SportsBook, said that the match was the biggest betting event in the history of his book. Yes, even bigger than any Super Bowl:
“As predicted, the amount of money and bets we took on the fight well surpassed the Super Bowl and it was our biggest wagered event ever, our biggest number of players ever, and also was our biggest single event win ever. As much as a rematch could be just as big, we will currently take our win,” Bradley told MMA Fighting.
Bigger Than the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is what typically brings the most action to sports books on an annual basis. However, every now-and-then we’ll get a marquee fight that gives the NFL’s championship game a run for its money. That was certainly the case with Mayweather-McGregor.
While most of the big money bets were on Mayweather, the vast majority of bettors decided to put money on McGregor to pull off the upset of a lifetime. ESPN reported that 92 percent of the 1,200 bets placed on the fight at Caesars Palace sports book sided with McGregor. However, all four of the individual bets totaling at least $1 million were placed on Mayweather to defend his title.
Bookies had reason to be concerned about McGregor potentially pulling off the upset. With so many bets coming in on the Irishman, McGregor defeating Mayweather would have caused books to hemorrhage money. The VP of MGM Resorts told ESPN before the fight that the money flooding in on McGregor had a massive impact on the potential losses. Jay Rood said, “This is like hanging -3 on the Super Bowl and seeing the line move to -8. This could be the worst loss in the history of MGM Resorts.”
Fortunately for the books, Mayweather’s expected victory relieved the books of having their worst nightmares come to fruition.
As expected, the pay-per-view event made absolute bank on the fight. Dana White said afterward that the fight registered 6.5 million pay-per-view purchases at $100 a pop. The previous record was 4.6 million buys for the Mayweather fight against Manny Pacquiao back in the spring of 2015, so the Mayweather-McGregor bout absolutely blew that out of the water.
Viewership was driven in large part due to the fact that this was the first time a traditional MMA fighter decided to up the ante and take on a champion boxer such as Mayweather. Fans also wanted to see whether Mayweather could push his record to 50-0, which could put him one better than Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 career mark.
CNN Money reported that Mayweather likely earned about $300 million in total just for participating in the fight, which is quite the staggering figure, indeed. Business Insider, meanwhile, said that McGregor would earn about $100 million for his part in the event.
Each fighter also gets a cut of the $700 million generated by pay-per-view revenues, as well. Mayweather, who is 40 and really has nothing left to prove in boxing, essentially got a 70-30 cut of the profits overall in the end.
Despite McGregor coming up short, both fighters come out of this looking good. Mayweather added to his already legendary legacy, while McGregor showed he can at least put up a decent fight against the world’s best boxer. The exposure also helped make McGregor even more of a household name than he already was before.
The nonstop buildup to the event certainly didn’t do much to hamper interest, either. Mayweather and McGregor went on a worldwide promotional tour ahead of the event, and there were countless television and radio advertisements, to boot.
Given the smashing success of Mayweather-McGregor, one would imagine it would be in the best long-term interests of both boxing and mixed martial arts to hold crossover events such as this more frequently. Could Mayweather and McGregor even come together for a rematch sometime in the future?
It’s possible, though unlikely. As mentioned previously, Mayweather is 40 and literally has nothing left to prove. His nickname is “Money”, though, so passing on another monstrous payday like the one he just received may be tough for him to pass up. He announced his retirement from boxing after the match, but we see boxers make dramatic comebacks all the time.
McGregor’s next move will likely be a trip back to UFC to take on Nate Diaz.
Dana White even said, “I don’t even want to talk about my other guys in a boxing match, This was built from the bottom up, from the fans to the media and then up to us when we even started remotely considering something like this. It was just a really special event and a rare event. I’m not looking to do this again.”
Of course, it’s in White’s best interests for McGregor to go right back to UFC, because that’s where White’s interests lie. That said, can McGregor really turn down that kind of money if another boxer challenges him to a fight?
Mayweather-McGregor went down because there was literally too much money to be made for it not to happen. There’s a reason superhero movies have countless sequels: they generate tons of interest and cash. So, it would be silly to write this off as a one-off event.
Even if Mayweather truly is done, there are other noteworthy boxers out there that may be willing to take a shot at McGregor. What about Manny Pacquiao? Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank, said in the past that McGregor should fight Pacquiao when it looked like the Mayweather fight was nothing more than a pipe dream. Oscar De La Hoya suggested McGregor take on Canelo Alvarez, additionally.
Promoters will not hesitate to try and get McGregor back in the ring as soon as possible. While it may not be in the best financial interests of Dana White, there is still plenty of reason for the UFC boss to be interested in letting McGregor box again: exposure. People that may not have ever watched McGregor before got a chance to see him on the big stage, which can only help UFC in the long run.
What Other Sports Generate Huge Betting Interest?
While boxing may no longer really be a truly “mainstream” sport, the biggest fights still do generate tons of buzz and interest from bettors and fans alike. Obviously, the Super Bowl and the NFL, in general, remain on top as far as American sports go.
The Super Bowl essentially popularized the prop bet in the first place, and betting on the big game has only grown from there. More than $132 million was bet on Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, which set a new record for a single American sporting event at the time.
Another event that garners massive interest is the NCAA college basketball tournament. Interest in general college basketball may have waned over the years, but the tournament remains a massive draw for betting crowds and television interests, alike. The tourney lasts about three weeks every March. Last year, about $9 billion was bet worldwide legally and illegally on the tourney.
Floyd Mayweather himself, certainly a known betting man, has made headlines for betting on the NCAAs in the past. Back in 2014, Money Mayweather himself made a profit of more than $75,000 when he bet on Connecticut to beat heavily-favored Kentucky in the NCAA Championship Game.
It’s going to be a tall task to beat the Mayweather-McGregor bout in the world of fighting anytime soon. Those are the two biggest names in the sport nowadays, so it’s hard to imagine any other headline event topping it in terms of betting interest.