Two Things You Should Know Before Buying Mayweather vs. McGregor or Any Other Blockbuster Fight on Pay-Per-View
By Paul “Paparazzi” Jones: On Saturday, Floyd Mayweather Jr. faces Conor McGregor in a potential billion-dollar fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Of course, Mayweather and McGregor are no strangers to blockbuster fights having headlined the highest-grossing pay-per-view (PPV) cards in UFC and boxing history:
(Photo credit: Chris Farina/Mayweather Promotions)
But, with a PPV price-tag set at $89.95 with a $10 high definition surcharge, many casual sports fans are probably wondering whether Mayweather vs. McGregor has any chance of living up to the hype?
Unfortunately, boxing has an inconvenient truth when it comes to high-stakes PPV blockbusters: History shows that bouts like Mayweather vs. McGregor are destined to underwhelm.
What History Teaches Us About Boxing PPV Blockbusters
One might think that when two elite fighters meet in the ring, especially for the first time, the fight will produce a compelling result. Classic examples include legendary match-ups between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (March 8, 1971), and Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns (April 15, 1985).
But the times and revenue models were different then.
Nevertheless, because enough data from modern-day PPV blockbusters have accumulated, examining these fights is possible and potentially informative.
In fact, a scan of boxing’s 11 highest-grossing PPVs reveals two big reasons why fans should not expect to get their money’s worth when they buy Mayweather vs. McGregor on PPV:
■ First, irrespective of the name recognition and skill level associated with the headliners of boxing’s all-time highest-grossing PPVs, most of these bouts were lean on action as shown in this table:
■ Second, and more important, notwithstanding a few controversial scorecards and decisions (e.g., judge C. J. Ross’ awful 114-114 score of Mayweather vs. Canelo and Félix Trinidad’s majority decision over Oscar De La Hoya), the promotion’s featured, or A-side, fighter won over 70% of the time in these fights. In several instances (e.g., Lewis vs. Tyson), the A-side fighter’s win was sewn up by the middle rounds.
What Are The Implications of These Findings for Mayweather vs. McGregor?
The major takeaways are simple.
History shows that, regardless of talent, power, speed, or size, headliners of boxing PPV blockbusters rarely produce compelling fights.
Therefore, if you’re expecting Mayweather vs. McGregor to produce action on par with a white-knuckle Hollywood thriller, think again. Boxing’s archives refute this kind of superficial thinking.
Instead, we should expect Mayweather to dominate McGregor in a boring, one-sided fight no matter how many times the future boxing hall of famer tries to convince us that McGregor will be “a tough fight” or how often McGregor insists that he’s going to “take over boxing . . . [and] shock the whole goddamn world.”
Don’t just take my word for it; consider the cautionary tale of Carlos Caballero, a 33-year-old engineer from Hayward, California who shelled out $100 to watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao at a local Dave & Buster’s Restaurant in 2015. Despite taking in over $400 Million in (adjusted) domestic PPV revenue, the self-proclaimed “Fight of the Century” was a colossal disappointment that left an indelible mark on many fight fans who expected more.
“I knew that Mayweather was more of a defensive guy,” explained Caballero. “However, I had high hopes that it would be an exciting fight and more of a brawl. It totally wasn’t.”
“My impression after watching that fight was that boxing PPVs are a total rip-off,” said Caballero.
Mr. Caballero’s point is well taken.
Naturally, there are some limitations to my analysis. For example, 11 PPV blockbusters is a modest sample.
Nevertheless, whether you purchase Mayweather vs. McGregor on PPV or you score tickets to watch the fight live, try to resist being persuaded by that inner voice that says, “You’ll get what you pay for.” When it comes to modern-day boxing PPV blockbusters, this simply hasn’t been the case. ■
Don’t forget to follow PAUL “PAPARAZZI” JONES on Twitter @boxingepicenter and Medium.com.