In the midst of a 19-year phenomenon, Floyd Mayweather changed his nickname to “Money.” And people started throwing it at him.
Mayweather said he and Manny Pacquiao were winners before they ever stepped into the ring May 2 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. And after most of the key financial figures were released last week from their welterweight unification, the reasons became clearer than ever.
It already is a half-billion-dollar event — more like $560 million actually, including records for live ticket sales, foreign television rights, and sponsorship — and when all revenue sources are counted, Mayweather-Pacquiao figures to top $600 million.
Mayweather is pretty close to a quarter-billion-dollar man, too, after a one-night windfall unseen in sports history. Two of them, in truth. Mayweather and Pacquiao both made the kind of money we are accustomed to seeing rarely, and only for the greatest stars, over periods of years.
If Mayweather actually does make $250 million from the Pacquiao fight — and he very well could — the only greater athlete contracts in sports history are Giancarlo Stanton’s ($325 million), Miguel Cabrera’s ($292 million), and two Alex Rodriguez deals ($252 million, renegotiated to $275 million). But those three baseball players all contractually committed for at least a decade to earn those massive sums.
Mayweather did it in one fight.
From what we know about the financial splits, the massive pay-per-view figures of 4.4 million buys and “more than $400 million” in domestic revenue, value of foreign television rights, sponsorship levels, and closed-circuit sales, Mayweather is at about $230 million in gross earnings, with Pacquiao at about $154 million, not including late-reporting pay-per-view, merchandising, and bars and restaurants, and the casino site fee which largely covered advertising. Those are ballpark figures.
A few things about that: A “ballpark figure” with this kind of money could be off by a few million dollars; and those “not including” items constitute an extraordinary sum by any measure before Mayweather-Pacquiao skewed all measures.
Untallied pay-per-view proceeds easily could top $20 million, based on traditional five- to eight-percent trickle-in after initial figures are released. Some 5,000 bars and restaurants reportedly purchased rights to show the fight at about $6,000 for a 200-seat venue, and while those values fluctuate greatly based on seating, that should have produced at least $20 million. Along with merchandising, those three revenue sources easily could add another $20 million or so to Mayweather’s take, and $15 million to Pacquiao’s, even after the various television interests take a cut.
Assuming those figures, Mayweather could make $250 million, and Pacquiao $170 million, and become easily the two most overpaid athletes in the history of mankind, not just because the athletic spectacle didn’t match the build-up, but because no athlete could match that kind of remuneration.
But that’s a market decision — uniquely so, in the case of pay-per-view — and the difference this time was that it wasn’t just boxing people buying, but the broader public, which might not have plopped down $100 for high-definition viewing to see a technical boxing match, though that’s what happened.
So while the fight might not have met the public’s thirst for more gladiatorial bloodlust than what occurs in the typical Mayweather bout, which is all this was, the periodic pay-per-view buyer continues to push the button more often than not when he fights.
Mayweather is believed to have earned about $70 million for his 2013 win over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the richest fight in history before the Pacquiao fight, and the biggest payday ever previously.
Mayweather had earned about $430 million before the Pacquiao fight. He increased his career earnings by more than 50 percent in one night. Mayweather fights now have produced the three biggest live gates, the three biggest pay-per-view revenue producers, and the three biggest raw pay-per-view sellers in boxing history.
Mayweather-Pacquiao did $72,198,500 in tickets, dwarfing Mayweather-Alvarez ($20,003,150), and Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya ($18,419,200). Mayweather-Pacquiao did 4.4 million domestic pay-per-view sales, far more than Mayweather-De La Hoya (2.48 million), and Mayweather-Alvarez (2.2 million).
Mayweather-Pacquiao produced “more than $400 million” in pay-per-view revenue according to promoters — and probably a fair chunk more, given that the $90 base price would have produced $396 million, even without the $10 high-definition tack-on — again outstripping Mayweather-Alvarez ($152 million) and Mayweather-De La Hoya ($136 million).
In 2002, Lennox Lewis was the first to gross $30 million for a fight when he defeated Mike Tyson.
It has happened 10 more times since then: Pacquiao did it for fighting Mayweather, as did De La Hoya, and the other eight times were by Mayweather in his last eight fights.
It makes one wonder how a fighter self-dubbed “Money” could walk away from so much of it.