The unorthodox nature of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor’s super-fight will make it the richest boxing match in history, leading industry figures have predicted.
After months of speculation, unbeaten icon Mayweather has agreed to come out of retirement to take on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star McGregor in his boxing debut at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on 26 August.
Despite the fact that 40-year-old Mayweather is an overwhelming favourite — his odds are as short as 1/12 with some bookmakers — the level of interest in the fight is expected to generate more revenue than the $600m (£470m) made by the American’s meeting with Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
“It’s definitely going to be the biggest fight ever in combat sports history and probably going to be the biggest pay day ever,” said UFC president Dana White.
It is the unique nature of Mayweather - McGregor that make it an even better sell than any other boxing fight in history.
“We have actually tapped into the audience that doesn’t really follow either sport,” said Stephen Espinoza, vice president of the fight’s broadcaster Showtime Sports.
“All of a sudden people who have never really been interested in MMA [mixed martial arts] or boxing are interested in this due to the nature of the competition.”
As talk of the match has evolved from insults traded back-and-forth between the two fighters to a more concrete reality, some — including McGregor himself — have tipped it to be the first $1bn fight in history as boxing and MMA fans come together to watch the one-off spectacle.
Mayweather’s hotly anticipated 2015 bout against Pacquiao is estimated to have pulled in a record 4.5m American buyers of its $100 pay-per-view package, $79m in ticket sales at the MGM Arena, $20m from commercial deals, $70m from betting.
All totted up, that amounted to over $600m. For the Mayweather v McGregor fight to hit the $1bn mark it would likely need to double its pay-per-view sales.
The “Notorious” Irishman is UFC’s biggest draw yet his best-selling fight, last year’s rematch against Nate Diaz, sold 1.7m pay-per-view buys.