Morning Report: Floyd Mayweather will only fight against Conor McGregor, says it will be ‘record-breaking’
on May 16, 2016, 8:00a
Call up Rakim because Floyd Mayweather is thinking up a “master plan.”
In recent weeks the combat sports world has been abuzz with rumors of pound-for-pound boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. coming out of retirement to box UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor, who is currently in a dispute with the UFC, posted to his Twitter a mocked up fight poster showing himself and Mayweather facing off. Since then Mayweather and his team have stirred up interest by commenting about the likelihood of a potential fight. The talk quickly consumed the MMA world and UFC president Dana White responded saying that Mayweather should call him if he really wants to make the fight.
Well it doesn’t appear that Mayweather has taken White up on his offer yet, but he is still confident the bout with McGregor will happen. Over the weekend Mayweather, spoke to ESNEWS about the McGregor fight, why he wants to make it happen, and saying it is the only fight he will come out of retirement for.
“If I do fight, it’s only against Conor McGregor. That’s gonna be my only fight and not against nobody else because this matchup is just so intriguing. You have a fighter against an MMA fighter, one of the best MMA fighters to do combat and stand up and do it. He’s a strong fighter and when I look at him fight he’s a little faster than I thought he was so if the fight happens I can’t overlook the guy. I’m pretty sure – if we make the fight happen – I’m pretty sure he’s gonna push me to the limit.”
But how to make the fight happen is yet to be determined. McGregor is under contract with the UFC so any bout between the two (barring some intense legal battles) would have to be co-promoted with Zuffa, something the company has been wary of doing in the past. Mayweather offered no answers to that particular impediment but he did say that they had begun to get the ball rolling in preparation for the theoretical bout.
“I’m pretty sure we’re gonna have a master plan to make that fight happen. It hasn’t happened yet, but we locked down some dates. Me and my team, me and Al Haymon, me and Leonard Ellerbe we locked down some dates in different countries, in different cities in the United States. And you already know what my number is, 100 million [dollars]. That’s just the guarantee. We don’t talk about my number on the back end.”
In a separate interview with Steve Farhood of Showtime Sports, Mayweather mentions that neither venue nor compensation have been decided yet; locking down dates and possible venues is the first step in that direction. But the compensation may be a hang up. The 100 million guarantee plus back end compensation would likely be one major sticking point for the UFC who often appear reluctant to set precedents that future fighters can leverage against them. However, the sheer amount of money the superfight could bring in may override that sensibility. Mayweather certainly believes it would be enormous.
“He’s tough. He’s a tough competitor. You know every time he goes out there and fights, when he kicks ass he kicks ass in a standup position. So if the fight does happen, I truly believe it’s going to be record-breaking…With my numbers for the Pacquiao fight I know we was at 4.6, I know we’re somewhere around 5 million now. 5 million homes. Pay per view. And even if we’re not at 5 million it sounds good. I know we’re over 4.6 so we gonna say 5 million. We probably can break that number. It’s possible. Anything is possible.”
Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao is the highest grossing pay per view event of all time and while passing it seems unlikely, selling 2-3 million is plausible considering the star power involved and the casual intrigue of the match-up. Selling 2 million would still be the highest grossing pay per view the UFC has been involved with and 3 million would blow their most successful ventures out of the water.
But unlike those other ventures, the UFC would only be getting a portion of that lucrative windfall. As Mayweather noted, he would get paid on the back end of that as would his promotional team, and of course Conor McGregor would take home a goodly sum too. Zuffa has already shown a willingness to pass up on big paydays on principle (whatever those principles may be) when they pulled McGregor from UFC 200. Moreover, Mayweather even mentioned (while talking about Jon Jones) that not all promoters like his business.
“Jon Jones is with the MMA but we still gotta communicate and put some things together, me and him. We’d love Jon Jones to be a part of TMT. We steady growing. And it’s not just about us making money it’s about the talent winning. That’s what we believe and that’s why so many promoters hate us and dislike us, because we believe in the talent winning when it’s all said and done.”
And therein may lie the rub. The UFC believes in the UFC winning. Mayweather obviously stands an enormous amount to gain; he gets to make well over $100 million dollars, move past Rocky Marciano’s iconic 49-0 mark to an undefeated record of 50-0, and gets to do so while facing the easiest opponent of his boxing career, likely scoring his first KO since 2011. McGregor also stands to make a substantial amount of money, suffer no real detriment to his personal brand, and propel his Q rating even further through the roof than it already is. But the UFC has less to gain. They give ground to other fighters with regard to co-promotion and pay while also leading their biggest star to certain defeat. Quite reasonably, the UFC may view a fight between McGregor and Mayweather as a long term loss to themselves despite the immediate financial rewards. Regardless, Mayweather remains hopeful.
“I think it’s gonna be so entertaining if we can do it, if we can put a boxer with an MMA fighter, because I can’t overlook that guy. Me, myself, I’m not gonna overlook him. We haven’t made the fight happen yet but if we can tweak a few things I’m pretty sure we can get him, not a good payday but a great payday.”
You can view the entire interview below.