The business of boxing: Your Mayweather vs. McGregor questions answered

Everyone is going to walk away a winner.
Everyone is going to walk away a winner.
Image: Reuters/USA Today Sports
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The showdown of the summer will happen this Saturday (Aug. 26) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Undefeated five-weight boxing star Floyd Mayweather Jr. will fight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Conor McGregor in a boxing match to determine once and for all which sport’s fighters reign supreme.

Anticipation is reaching a fever pitch. Mayweather is one of the best boxers of all time, and the Irish superstar McGregor has dominated the relatively new sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). The two have been trading public insults for months and McGregor vowed to “badly hurt” Mayweather at the pre-fight press conference earlier this week outside the T-Mobile Arena, where the fight will take place.

“Listen, last time I checked nobody has walked me down,” Mayweather, who is unbeaten in 49 professional contests, said at the press conference. “It’s called smarts, it’s called having the IQ and having patience.”

McGregor shot back: “I believe he’ll be unconscious inside one round.”

The match has been dubbed “the Money Fight.” The battle between the superstars of professional boxing and mixed martial arts is estimated to be one of the most lucrative fights in boxing history and 50 million people in the US alone are expected to watch.

Here is a breakdown of Saturday’s big match, in case you’ve been living under a rock this summer:

What’s the big deal about the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight?

The fight has been billed as the ultimate showdown between the top athletes in boxing and MMA, but is as much a media event as it is an athletic competition. There is a lot of money to be made, not just by fighters, but also promoters, broadcasters, fashion designers and others who are cashing in on the public’s feverish excitement.

The match is especially interesting for fighting fans because while McGregor is a UFC champion, he’s never boxed professionally. Mayweather, on the other hand, has an undefeated 49-0 professional boxing record.

But while 29-year-old McGregor is a current UFC champion, the 40-year-old Mayweather has been semi-retired for years, so he’s not in the same shape he was at his professional peak. Boxing fans are confident Mayweather’s decades of experience and winning record guarantee he will come out on top, while UFC fans argue MMA fighters are stronger overall.

Fans are calling the match the “Fight of the Century” but the stakes are actually pretty low for McGregor: If the Irish fighter loses, he’s still a UFC champion. Mayweather’s undefeated record would be tarnished if he lost. There is also a curiosity factor involved, because no one knows exactly what kind of boxer McGregor will be when he’s in the ring.

What are the Vegas odds for the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight?

Mayweather is the odds-on favorite to win the match. Since Mayweather has an undefeated record and McGregor has never boxed a professional round in his life, opening Vegas odds before the fight was even officially announced set Mayweather at -2250 and McGregor at +950, according to Odds Shark.

These types of odds are called moneylines. A +950 line means that for every $100 bet you place, you will win $950 ($1,050 total), and -2250 means that you need to bet $2,250 to win $100 in profit.

Because McGregor’s win offered such a big payout, betting money poured in for him, causing the odds to move closer. The day after the fight was announced, McGregor’s odds jumped to +400, while Mayweather’s dropped to -600. Right now the odds are even tighter, with Mayweather at -450 and McGregor at +325.

Beyond the basic who-will-win odds, Odds Shark has a complete list of current odds for all the prop bets associated with the fight, including method of victory, timing, and total rounds.

What are Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor’s net worths?

There’s a reason Floyd Mayweather’s nickname is “Money.” Mayweather was the highest paid athlete in the world in for 2012, 2013, and 2014, according to Forbes, which also ranked him #34 on its list of America’s richest entrepreneurs under 40 for 2016.

Forbes estimated his net worth at $340 million in December 2016, and experts say he could be worth well in excess of $400 million with the money he’ll earn from Saturday’s fight. Besides earnings from his fights, Mayweather owns a promotional company, Mayweather Promotions, which promotes live entertainment such as sports and concerts, as well as film and television productions.

Though McGregor is the highest paid athlete in UFC, his net worth is significantly smaller than Mayweather’s—Forbes pegged it at $34 million as of June of this year, but that number is sure to go up after his take from the fight this weekend. The Irish fighter is known for his extravagant purchases, often taking to social media to show off his expensive cars and gold lion statues.

How much will each fighter make?

Mayweather is expected to make at least $100 million from his and his promotional company’s participation in the fight this weekend, which also includes sponsorships and merchandising. But he could make four times that, depending on ticket sales, pay-per-view purchases, and other monetary metrics. Mayweather Promotions is arranging the undercard fights for this Saturday’s match, and partnering with entertainment company Fathom Events to broadcast the fight live in movie theaters around the country.

McGregor’s purse won’t be too shabby either: He’ll likely walk away with at least $75 million, which is much more than he’s ever made from a single UFC event. And if he wins the fight, he’ll take home a lot more than that.

According to Forbes, Mayweather’s purse could be as high as $400 million and McGregor’s $147 million. Depending on the final purse amount, Mayweather’s total career earnings could hit $1 billion after his payout.

Who is the referee for the fight?

Veteren boxing referee Robert Byrd will ref the fight from inside the ring, with judges Burt Clements, Dave Moretti, and Guideo Cavalleri. Moretti and Guideo are Americans, and Cavalleri is Italian (McGregor’s camp requested an international judge.)

Byrd was selected to referee the fight by a unanimous decision from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The well-respected boxing ref is a 74-year-old retired police officer from California who also has a good working knowledge of MMA fighting thanks to his wife, who has worked as a UFC judge.

Who is on the undercard?

The undercard is round of matches between lesser-known fighters before the main event. It introduces fans to new players and also serves as a kind of insurance policy in entertainment for spectators in case the main round end underwhelms (as Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao famously did in 2015).

Mayweather’s promotional company, Mayweather Promotions, is arranging all of the undercard matches for the fight. The main undercard event will be between Mayweather’s undefeated 22-year-old protégé, Gervonta Davis, and 23-year-old Costa Rican boxer Francisco Fonseca, who has 19 wins and 1 draw under his belt.

Here is the full undercard list:

  • Gervonta Davis vs Francisco Fonseca
  • Nathan Cleverly vs Badou Jack
  • Andrew Tabiti vs Steve Cunningham
  • Shawn Porter vs Thomas Dulorme
  • Juan Heraldez vs Jose Miguel Borrego
  • Kevin Newman vs Mark Anthony Hernandez
  • Savannah Marshall vs Amy Coleman

How can I watch the fight?

Showtime is broadcasting the match on pay-per-view, and there will be plenty of bars showing the fight on Saturday night. Check out Quartz’s guide for all of the ways you can watch Floyd Mayweather fight Conor McGregor live.