THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 1/15: The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor potential superfight undergoes public “feeling out process”

By D.R. Webster, MMATorch contributor

Conor McGregor (photo credit Joshua Dahl © USA Today Sports)


After a year of rumors and what seemed to be a farfetched idea that would never come to fruition for some, the first steps may have been taken this week in what could be a long journey towards a superfight between undefeated Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr and MMA’s top star and UFC moneymaker Conor McGregor.

Thus far, most of the talk of a possible Mayweather-McGregor boxing match has come from McGregor. The biggest move made so far included him putting his money where his mouth is regarding his desire for the fight, by obtaining a Boxing licence in California last year.

This week, however, Floyd Mayweather finally got serious about the rumors and on ESPN named what he sees as a suitable figure to him for the fight, putting the ball in McGregor’s court this time.

“We tried to make the fight,” he said. “They know what my number is. My number was a guaranteed $100 million. We’re the A-side and I don’t know how much money he has made? I’m pretty sure he hasn’t even made $10 million from an MMA bout. But we are willing to give him $15 million and then we can talk about splitting the percentage, the back-end percentage, on pay-per view.”

“But of course we’re the A-side,” he said. “How can a guy talk about $20 million or $30 million (per fight) if he’s never even made $8 million or $9 million?”

A $15 million payday would be the biggest one of McGregor’s career so far, with his biggest in the UFC for one fight coming at UFC 202 for his bout with Nate Diaz. He made a disclosed $3 million, tied with Ronda Rousey now for the highest amount for a fight.

McGregor claimed that he would have earned about $40 million by the end of 2016, earlier last year, something which he could blow out of the water with one fight against Mayweather on PPV points alone, most likely.

Mayweather, on the other hand, split a purse 60/40 with Manny Pacquiao in his second last fight in May 2015 for an event which drew $4.6 million and a record revenue of $410 million. After PPV points, Mayweather’s share reportedly rose to somewhere between $250-300 million and, for his last fight against Andre Berto, he earned a reported $32 million before PPV points.

McGregor may be a proven draw now, but Mayweather so far is in a different league when it comes to PPV numbers and earnings.

However, if Mayweather wants to fight again and make the real big money, he needs McGregor.

The big name options to go against in boxing is very limited and, although Manny Pacquiao wants a rematch with Mayweather, after a disappointing first fight as well as the anticipation of their first fight being gone, the money or interest would not be the same and it’s not something Mayweather is interested in at this point.

“The only thing I’m probably interested in is the Conor McGregor fight,” he said. “I’m a businessman, and it makes more business sense.”

Also, Mayweather would be looking to surpass the 49-0 record that he currently shares with Rocky Marciano to go 50-0, McGregor is the biggest option to do this on a grand scale. Under boxing rules, it could be an easy way for Mayweather to do so, making it a win-win for Mayweather, provided the upset doesn’t happen, which could be disastrous for Mayweather’s legacy.

McGregor has yet to respond to everything that has gone on this week regarding Mayweather. However, UFC President, Dana White had his say, going so far as to make an official offer to Mayweather, after saying previously that the fight would never happen, in a classic Dana White U-Turn.

Of course, Conor McGregor is signed to the UFC and if this possible fight happens, the UFC want to make as much money off of their guy as possible when it does, so White made the public move to get the ball rolling.

On “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” White said: “I’ll tell you what, Floyd, here’s a real offer, and I’m the guy that can actually make the offer, and I’m actually making a real offer. We’ll pay you $25 million, we’ll pay Conor $25 million, and then we’ll talk about pay-per-view at a certain number. There’s a real offer.”

White claimed that Mayweather is asking for this fight because he knows it’ll pay massive dividends. He criticized the boxer’s star power. The UFC chief is also contending that the gap in popularity between the two fighters is not as vast as Floyd thinks it is, citing his most recent PPV numbers. “To think that you’re the ‘A’ side? How are you the ‘A’ side?” White said. “The last major fight that you were in, you left such a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, nobody wants to see you again. His last fight did 350,000 pay-per-view buys. Conor’s last (two fights) did 1.3 and 1.5 million buys, so I don’t understand how you think you’re the ‘A’ side. There’s a reason you want this Conor fight so bad – because you know that’s your money fight.”

Mayweather laughed off White’s offer later on this week while talking to TMZ, calling White a “f—ing comedian!” then flashing is $200,000 plus his Hublot watch to the cameras.

He later commented: “The best thing to do is look at how much money Conor McGregor has made, then look up how much money Floyd Mayweather has made, and then we can make the fight happen.”

If the money is right, of course, both Mayweather and McGregor will want this fight to happen. Getting to that point will be the problem, Mayweather has made it clear he wants $100 million before PPV buys for it and, if someone is willing to meet or get close enough to that, then there is a high chance it will go down on his part. But if he gets $100 million, what will McGregor demand? That’s creates another spanner in the works.

Also, the issue that Mayweather is 40 years old. If it takes as long to make this fight as it did with Mayweather and Pacquiao then, the ship will have sailed by the time everything falls into place – and a lot has to in order for this to happen.

More importantly, if the UFC can’t agree to promote or co-promote the fight, then will they allow McGregor to do the fight outside of his UFC contract?

The payday will be too great for McGregor to turn down and, if they don’t want him to fight, then legal issues will soon raise their ugly head which could tie everything up.

Even if everything goes to plan, what if McGregor comes back and loses a fight or two in the time it takes to get the fight organized? Perhaps his star power diminishes slightly and it ends up not being the draw it once could have been.

It may seem like the possibility of the fight is more real than before, but there are so many variables involved that it still may be just a dream.

White responded to Mayweather via TMZ, addressing Mayweather’s claims about being a bigger draw than McGregor.

“First of all, Floyd thinks he’s so much bigger than Conor – he’s wrong. Floyd’s gone undefeated for 20 years; I give him all the credit in the world for doing that. Conor’s been around for three or four years. For him to think that he’s a much bigger star than Conor isn’t true. I’m not going to pay him way more money than I’m going to pay my guy,” White said.

He also made reference to Mayweather’s spending habits being the reason he should consider the $25 million offer from him and the UFC.

While McGregor’s last few PPVs have drawn more than Mayweather’s last, Mayweather in boxing and overall is the bigger draw and has done it for a longer time period successfully.

He made $32 million before PPV for his last fight, so taking $25 million and making the same money as McGregor – who has made at most $3 million for one fight – is never going to happen and White knows it. He is clearly just testing the waters and throwing the UFC name into the hat to promote any fight that does happen.

We have had offers of sorts and counter offers of sorts. No word from Conor McGregor yet on what has happened this week. Whatever happens from here will be interesting, and the media will have a field day with all the back and forth between McGregor and Mayweather as it unfolds. Even if the fight doesn’t happen, McGregor and Mayweather will continue to make headlines, and headlines make money.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 1/8: Mike Goldberg comments on his departure from UFC, thanks fighters and supporters

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