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WHO MAKES THE MONEY? THE BUSINESS OF MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO

March 11, 2015, Queens, NY  “I come from money-making Manhattan,” was the 1980s signature response from those calling in to a radio program when asked to identify from where they were calling. Sports marketing impresario, Kyle Greene, would slyly retort with a question, “Well, who makes the money?”

Good question.  On May 2, 2015, there will be more than a few parties that will be making the money.  Let’s start with the two fighters.  Projected figures indicate that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will be splitting (60-40) a purse of about $200 million.  Doing the math, that gives Mayweather a cool $120 million and Pacquiao, a less than paltry $80 million.

“Well, who makes the money?”  Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s long-time manager and confidant, revealed the ticket prices.  The nosebleed seats are going for only $1,500, and ringside seats will be priced at $7,500.  These tickets will probably fetch 5 to 7 times their face value in the “secondary market.” (Can anyone spell “scalping”?)  The MGM Grand expects to double its largest gate which was $20.3 million (when Mayweather fought Canelo Alvarez in 2013). Many of the area hotels have already been booked to capacity.  Airline flights to Las Vegas for that week as well as car rentals/service will increase exponentially.  The casinos will see unprecedented traffic, and the betting lines will resemble the food lines of the early 1930s.

“Well, who makes the money?”  Showtime and HBO are partnering for the broadcast.  Pay-per-view will cost about $100.  The rebroadcast on May 9 could possibly have the largest viewership for a premium cable broadcast.  Many bars and sports-themed restaurants throughout the country will televise the fight.  Pre-fight, behind-the-scenes, docu-dramas like “All Access” and “24/7” will have their largest viewership.  Websites and bloggers will have much to write about which should drive their advertising revenue.

“Well, who makes the money?”  Income-tax-return checks (in whole or part) will be wagered, Las Vegas employees who work in hospitality can expect huge tips, and those persons who work in the world’s oldest profession as well as sellers of illegal pharmaceuticals (I hate to, but have to bring up the seedy side) will have more than a few high paying customers.

“Well, who makes the money?”  There will be many clubs in Las Vegas and all over the country that will have post-fight parties.  Several people will throw their own parties which means plenty of cooking, plenty of eating, and plenty of drinking.  People like to dress up and put on their best duds, so apparel and shoe retailers will do well.  So will the barbershops and salons.

“Well, who makes the money?” Al Haymon (arguably the most powerful person in the sport of boxing) and Bob Arum (arguably the greatest promoter in the history of boxing) will receive a “bump” in their yearly earnings.  For licensors of fight-related apparel and other merchandise, Christmas will come early.

People who are “connected” to the fighters by blood, marriage, friendship, working relationship, charity/foundation, neighborhood/community, etc., can expect a little something extra in an envelope.

It’s not just the fighters who are going to “ease on down the yellow-brick road.”  A great tide will lift all boats, and a big fight will fatten many a wallet (or purse).

If the fight is highly competitive, has an ebb and flow, produces a few knockdowns, goes the distance, and has a somewhat controversial decision, the fighters can do it again in November.  Boxing’s last “big” fight was 13 years ago, Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson.  That’s too long between big fights.  When boxing was at its height in popularity, you had four big fights in a six-month period: Leonard-Duran I, Hearns-Cuevas, Ali-Holmes, and Leonard-Duran II (from June 1980 to November 1980).  The following year you had Leonard-Holmes and Ali-Berbick.  In 1982, you had Holmes-Cooney.

The currency, and I mean the real currency, is in the media coverage, barbershop banter, water cooler talk, viewership, local fight attendance, participation in the sport, and popularity of the boxers.

Well, who makes the money?  The entity with the most to gain: The sport of Boxing.

Professor Clifford Benton can be reached at cliffb@puresportsny.com

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