Business of Boxing: May Date for Mayweather-Pacquiao Just Isn’t Practical


by Charles Jay

Most people would agree that you could probably announce a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather on a Monday and pitch a ring up somewhere on Saturday, and you would still have a hell of a live crowd and quite a few subscribers on pay-per-view.

However, if you are going to do something this big you have to do it UP big, and that means plenty of lead time to get everything ready.

Whoever is going to put up the money for a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao is going to want the best shot at recouping that investment, because, let’s face it, there aren’t going to be any bargains here. Whatever the purse guarantees are, it is most likely going to look like someone overpaid.

With Mayweather being the more stubborn of the two in terms of dollars, and Pacquiao very interested in purse parity, the prices are going to go through the roof if an agreement is ever struck.

You see, it is a lot more involved than a couple of fighters sending Twitter messages back to each other.

You might argue that a savvy investor might not turn to boxing in the first place, because of the volatility of the sport itself. But let’s imagine that there is a savvy investor who is interested, with real money, such as Eike Batista, the head of Brazilian conglomerate EBX, is purported to be. Someone like that may be the adventurous type, and no one ever got to be where he is by not rolling the dice. However, whether it is his organization or someone else’s, they would not be doing this for a vanity play.

The idea is to bring some kind of return, or if there is a residual benefit, to be in a position to maximize that and reduce the downside. When a group led by Jay-Z made a soft commitment to bankroll the Mayweather-Ortiz fight, they wanted the first $47 million back on their investment that was a few million less. It certainly wasn’t about boosting anyone’s ego.

Customarily, four months is considered healthy lead time to be able to a good job promoting a substantial pay-per-view in this business, So logically, it follows that for a pay-per-view event that stands to bring in more dollars than any other in history, extra time beyond that would be most desirable.

That is because when there is more money at stake, so much more is possible. It is, quite simply, a bigger production. Clearance through a mechanism such as HBO PPV is, of course, no problem, but there are so many other things to worry about. Both fighters would likely go on lengthy press tours. There might even be an international press tour, because of what would be a concerted effort to bring in a lot of foreign dollars, which, also, by the way, takes negotiation with foreign outlets. There is all the press and publicity that the promotion will try to squeeze out of the event, and all the press demands that have to be satisfied. There are sponsors to recruit and negotiate with. There are cross-promotional opportunities. There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of ticket sales, especially if you want to fill a stadium, which is what people like Bob Arum have been talking about.

And then there’s a lot more.

Basically, whatever is required for a championship-level show, or a “garden variety” pay-per-view event, the mountain of logistics surrounding a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would be about a mile higher.

And at this moment in time, May is just too soon.

“First of all, even if they were starting to talk about something like this in December, they would never get it done in time for a fight to be done in May,” said one insider who has negotiated with the parties involved before. “Sure, if they could sit down and get it done in one day, that would be one thing. But when you’re talking about someone like Mayweather, you’re talking about dealing with so much bullshit that it is going to drag on. And you’ve got Arum and Pacquiao, who are always weighing and re-weighing their options. Even if the money was all there, by the time you got around to getting names on the dotted line, you’re talking about weeks, even months, and that doesn’t leave enough time.”

So anybody who had the pipe dream that this is the fight that could take place on Mayweather’s “Cinco de Mayo” date, or even later in May should probably plan to be a little more patient.

It may yet happen, but not before Floyd walks the prison yard a few dozen times.

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