LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor’s improbable challenge of Floyd Mayweather Jr. could be seen by a staggering 50 million people in the United States as fans and the curious gather in small and large parties.
Here's what you need to know about the Mayweather-McGregor fight:
Date: Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017
Time: 9 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
How to watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight:
On TV: Order Mayweather vs. McGregor on Showtime PPV
Stream it online: Showtime PPV online | Showtime PPV app
Here are the fight odds, per OddsShark.com:
Floyd Mayweather: 1-4 to win
Conor McGregor: 3-1 to win
Here's more background on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight:
The fight Saturday night threatens the pay-per-view revenue record set by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao two years ago and could dwarf it in viewership as people use the event as a reason to have friends and family over for a little escapism and controlled violence.
“It’s a cultural event that crosses all demographics and all social and economic factors,” said Mark Taffet, who formerly ran pay-per-view for HBO. “People are getting together to have a great time and we surely need an excuse to have a great time.”
Taffet said that while an average of 5-6 people normally watches a pay-per-view, he wouldn’t be surprised if the fight averages 10 people a household. If it sells 5 million pay-per-views as widely anticipated, the fight could be watched by nearly one in six Americans.
The fight will also be seen by millions more worldwide, with promoters claiming it will be available either online or on a TV screen to more than 1 billion homes in 200 different countries.
“If you are in Manhattan or you are on a desert island somewhere, if you have Wi-Fi, you can buy this fight,” promoter Dana White said.
Each pay-per-view sale means more money in the wallets of both fighters. Though estimates vary widely, Mayweather is expected to make some $200 million, while McGregor will likely pocket at least $100 million.
Though ticket sales have been slow in Las Vegas — largely because of astronomical prices — the fight is shaping up as must-see TV at a price of $99.95. People are expected to buy the fight in record numbers, with many sharing the cost of the telecast with friends and family they invite over.
Taffet said people will treat it much like a Super Bowl by getting together in larger numbers than usual.
“I think this is first and foremost a television event,” said Taffet, who oversaw 190 pay-per-views in his career at HBO. “The success of this fight in the financial record books of history will be made on pay-per-view. And I believe it’s going to deliver.”
Industry observers say it’s hard to judge how many homes will buy a pay-per-view until the day of the fight many times, as people often buy late. But the anecdotal evidence — primarily the chatter on social media — indicates a good likelihood of it smashing the 4.6 million record of pay-per-view sales set by the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
That’s largely because the matchup will likely cross over from being just a sporting event to a party night.
“We have definitely seen massive general market interest in addition to the sports fan,” said Stephen Espinoza, who heads sports for Showtime, which will televise the fight. “These general market viewers are often not part of the audience for even the biggest combat sports event. So the ceiling is pretty high.”
Espinoza said the very nature of the fight — a matchup between a UFC star who has never boxed as a pro against one of the greatest fighters of his time — will drive the pay-per-view sales.
“We believe this is an unprecedented event, quite frankly no one knows what to expect,” he said. “The element of these two outspoken personalities in one unprecedented event is compelling.”
An early indication of interest in the fight is the massive betting both in Nevada and in other places where it is legal. Bookmakers say it will be the biggest bet fight ever, with an overwhelming number of the early tickets on McGregor to pull an upset.
Still, there are plenty of tickets left in the arena itself, where prices originally ranged from $2,500 in the upper sections to $10,000 at ringside. Ticket prices have been dropping in the resale market — with some available for less than $1,300 on Tuesday — and are expected to decline more in the days before the fight.
What to make of the hype surrounding the mega fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor?
They step into the ring at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena Saturday with question marks surrounding the legitimacy of the fight; one of boxing's all time greats against an amateur and a novice without a professional bout to his name.
One bookmaker is so sure of a Mayweather victory that it has already paid out to customers who had bet on the US boxer.
Despite the apparent mismatch and disparity in boxing talent, the fight continues to generate worldwide interest. So much so, some pay-per-view packages in the US are being sold for upwards of $100.
While no titles will be on the line when Floyd Mayweather Jr. takes on Conor McGregor on Saturday, the winner will walk away with the newly created "Money Belt."
The World Boxing Council has created the special prize for the fight at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena.
The belt, unveiled at a news conference promoting the fight on Wednesday, features 3,360 diamonds, 600 sapphires, 300 emeralds and 1 1/2 kilograms of 24-karat gold on green Italian alligator leather, according to a report from The Associated Press
Mayweather, 40, held the WBC welterweight and super welterweight titles when he retired from boxing with a perfect record in the fall of 2015.
The 154-pound showdown has been long awaited by many fight fans, with Mayweather putting his 49-0 boxing record against reigning UFC lightweight champion McGregor, 28, who boxed when he was younger but has never done so professionally.
Despite the apparent mismatch, pay-per-view demand for the fight has been strong, with packages going for around $100. Tickets to see the event in person, however, remain available.
But the picture around ticket sales is more confusing.
Tickets are still available for the fight on the T-Mobile Arena website -- the cheapest is priced at $1,722 -- though Friday's weigh-in is sold out.
Despite the T-Mobile Arena hosting the event, the ticketing section on its official website links out to a secondary seller where prices are up to 10 times the original value -- $107,000 for a ringside seat.
However, earlier this month the Los Angeles Times -- citing officials connected to the public sale of tickets -- said 3,000 seats were still available for sale, with another 4,000 tickets available on the secondary market.
The T-Mobile Arena was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNN. Neither was MGM Resorts international and AEG Worldwide. The T-Mobile Arena is a joint venture between AEG and MGM Resorts.
Meanwhile, tickets on resale websites StubHub and Ticketbis are available for $1,100, though the former company told CNN that Saturday's bout wasn't proving as popular as Mayweather's fight against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.
"Mayweather vs. McGregor is so far the second best-selling fight ever on StubHub, after Mayweather vs. Pacquiao," a StubHub spokesperson told CNN.
"To date, ticket sales figures show that sales for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao outsell Mayweather vs. McGregor by over 10%.
"However, Mayweather vs. McGregor is attracting a slightly more international crowd, with 14% of sales coming from outside the US, compared to 12% for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao."
With just a few days until the fight, it would appear tickets for Saturday's fight are not only selling more slowly, they are also not as expensive as the bout between Mayweather and Pacquiao.
So far, the most expensive ticket sold on StubHub for Saturday's bout is $24,000, while the priciest ticket for Mayweather 's fight against Pacquiao went for $35,000.
At face value, the cheapest ticket for Saturday's bout was $500 and the most expensive, for a ringside seat, was $10,000.
StubHub say the average ticket price sold for Mayweather vs. McGregor on its website is $3,394.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor got their wish to fight in smaller gloves, but not before being chastised by a Nevada boxing official for using the issue to hype their fight later this month.
Nevada boxing regulators on Wednesday gave the two fighters an exemption to a rule requiring 10-ounce gloves for fights at 154 pounds, approving 8-ounce gloves for the Aug. 26 bout. Representatives of both fighters appeared before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to request the waiver.
Commissioners also approved veteran referee Robert Byrd as the third man in the ring for the fight.
Commission Chairman Anthony Marnell said he was comfortable with the fighters using smaller gloves, but unhappy that they used the issue to sell the fight on social media.
“I do not like the Nevada State Athletic Commission being used as a pawn in a social media battle,” Marnell said.
Under Nevada regulations, 10-ounce gloves are required in fights above 147 pounds and the bout is set for 154 pounds. But Mayweather has worn 8-ounce gloves most of his career, and McGregor has worn 4-ounce gloves in his UFC fights.
McGregor said the gloves will only speed up the end of the fight, which he earlier predicted wouldn’t last four rounds.
“I believe now that gloves are eight ounces I don’t believe he makes it out of the second round,” McGregor said. “I do not see him absorbing the blows in the first two rounds.”
Mayweather’s promoter, Leonard Ellerbe, said his fighter is also more comfortable in smaller gloves and would use them to stop McGregor.
“The fight is going to end in a knockout, I’m very confident,” Ellerbe said. “And it will probably be early.”
McGregor will be in a boxing ring for the first time as a pro when he takes on Mayweather, who is coming out of retirement for a fight that will make him tens of millions of dollars. They will fight under boxing rules, which will be enforced by Byrd, a veteran of many championship fights.
“The referee makes a big difference in this fight, which is the specific reason I chose Robert Byrd,” said Bob Bennett, the commission’s executive director.
Commissioners also approved Burt Clements and Dave Moretti of the United States and Italy’s Guido Cavalleri as judges for the bout. McGregor’s camp had asked for an international judge among the three.
Byrd will be paid $25,000 for the bout, while the judges will make $20,000.
The glove issue took up much of the commission meeting, though in the end all voted in favor of the smaller gloves. There was also discussion about the padding in the gloves, with both sides agreeing to be bound by Nevada boxing inspectors approving the foam padding.
Mayweather has fought 46 of his 49 fights with 8-ounce gloves, including his last six. McGregor has never boxed before, but quickly agreed to Mayweather’s challenge on social media to fight in smaller gloves.
UFC chief Dana White echoed McGregor in saying the smaller gloves will make a difference in the fight.
“It affects the fight big time,” White said. “When we were in our original negotiations it was something they would not even talk about. I don’t know what changed but I’m glad it did. It makes it so much more fun.”
Commissioners said they struggled with making an exception to regulations in place since 2006, but decided to approve the waiver because of the unusual nature of the event.
“The fight is not normal,” said commissioner Sandra Morgan.
John Hornewer, an attorney for Mayweather, said the unbeaten boxer would likely not be at the 154-pound limit at the fight weigh-in anyway.
McGregor holds strong on prediction of a knockout
Conor McGregor is convinced he will beat Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26, inside of four rounds.
And if the Nevada Athletic Commission approves the fighters’ request to use eight-ounce gloves, he said he will beat Mayweather in the first six minutes of the fight.
“He’ll be unconscious inside two rounds, really one round, only for the 10-second count I will give him maybe surviving into the second,” said McGregor, who enters the boxing world with a 21-3 MMA record. “But if it’s 10-ounce gloves, maybe four rounds. But under four rounds he’ll be unconscious.”
But if McGregor plans to fight the same way he worked out for the media on Friday at UFC’s exquisite headquarters in southwest Las Vegas, Mayweather shouldn’t have any problem improving to 50-0.
The 29-year-old Irishman simulated a 12-round boxing match by dancing around punching bags for roughly 47 minutes, at times looking like an out-of-sync boxer with wide swings that left his guard down, awkward combinations and unnecessary shuffling. Other times he looked like an MMA fighter eager to charge his opponent, something he obviously can’t do in a boxing match.
But with as much hype and promotion being thrown into the ring with both fighters, McGregor left plenty of intrigue and insists he didn’t show half the boxing skills he honed has a youth in Ireland, simply teasing anyone in attendance and everyone else who may have tuned into any livestreaming on social media.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve shocked the world, and I’m going to shock it once again,” McGregor said. “It’s not going to end well for Floyd. It’s not going to end well for all the people doubting me.”
The 29-year-old Irishman insists nothing has changed in his training, other than the fact he can’t use his legs or take his opponent to the ground, and he’s the same hard-working fighter that won two Ultimate Fighting Championship titles.
“I show up to the gym, I work hard, and through my hard work I gain my confidence - that’s been the same since day one,” said McGregor, the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion and former UFC Featherweight Champion. “The fundamentals are still there, I show up, I work hard.”
While speculation is McGregor will be the aggressor early on, his gameplan and strategy remain a mystery since this will be his first professional boxing match. What hasn’t been a mystery is the air of confidence he displays, combined with a clear disdain for his opponent that has him assured he will hand Mayweather his first professional loss.
“You can’t prepare for me, you can’t prepare for me, you can’t prepare for the movement, you can’t prepare for any of it,” McGregor said. “He can sit here and watch this (workout), and I’m sure he has been watching that. Let him watch, let him try and study, but you cannot prepare for this. There is nobody in the game that moves like me, that strikes like me and that has the confidence like me.
“This is a fight that has been in my crosshairs since Floyd’s been opening his mouth, simple as that. I see a beaten man in his eyes, in his body language, in everything he does. I’m going to knock him out bad, he’s too small. I know he’s fast, I know he’s got good reflexes, I know he’s experienced. I don’t care. I hit you, you fall, and that’s it. He will be unconscious.”
“He’ll be 150 pounds. That’s his best weight and there’s no reason to put on extra weight,” Hornewer said.
A McGregor representative said his fighter has been about 160 pounds in training camp and would likely enter the ring somewhere around that weight after making the 154-pound limit the day before.