Tonight’s boxing fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is a gigantic fight. The sport of boxing is notoriously known for its ability to ‘hype’ the competitive nature of ‘man vs. man’, in which ‘survival of the fittest’ is more visible and determining than in team sports. This element has also proved itself in other of the greatest fights in the history of boxing. The media have labeled tonight’s fight as the greatest of all times and from my perspective it is among the greatest – definitely the greatest from an economic perspective – but fights like Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, Muhamed Ali vs. George Foreman and Muhamed Ali vs. Joe Frazier are boxing events that are at the same or a higher level from a sporting angle.
However, this is 2015 and the development over time has transformed the economy of sports into a commercial show, in which the junction between sports and entertainment takes a central role that justifies the above-mentioned label; this is valid with the commercial perception in mind. All boxing fans worldwide have an interest in fights like tonight’s show featuring Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao. There is a lot at stake in this fight and given the new technologies, the globalization of boxing (and professional sports in general) has changed, which both boxers but especially Mayweather Jr. have exploited in terms of pay-per-view. The contrast between the two boxers and the ‘fight outside the ring’ have intensified the interest for and the competitive elements of the fight. In that regard, it is a fight full of contrasts, which stages the representative of the working class and the people in the form of Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr., who reflects a jet-set lifestyle in the fast lane.
As mentioned above, it is significant to consider that there have been other great boxing fights, which measured on some parameters are greater than tonight’s fight. However, today’s postmodern business of sports has a character that gives tonight’s fight its own life with a reinforcing branding effect. This is due to the many media platforms, through which the fight’s importance and vitality are articulated and thus enhances the boxers’ and the fight’s reach. This process is a strong capitalization element. Current trends of the postmodern economy of sports point towards breaking existing conditions and records for what reason the conversations about the fight are fueled by the astronomic flow of money linked to the fight. The fight outside the ring also offers the traditional mocking comments and accusations from both boxers and their supporting organizations. These fights associated with tonight’s fights give the event a level of extra excitement and some of the drama, which according to sports management research are motivational factors for sports fans.
Additionally, there is a lot at stake from a formal angle, i.e. three World Championship Titles (WBA, WBC & WBO). The fight has been ‘hyped’ intensively and has reached a high level of exclusivity, which leads to an enhancement of the already strong demand to experience the fight live and via other platform; pay-per-view in particular has turned Mayweather Jr. into the world’s strongest sports brand measured on income at the moment. The amount of $89.95 that it costs to watch the fight via pay-per-view can be multiplied by the enormous interest globally so the two boxers will face a flourishing cash register. Fans will be exposed to lots of drama but there are no guarantees that the show isn’t over in a couple of minutes, which I experienced a lot when my parents woke me up to enjoy warm rolls while watching Mike Tyson fight some hopeful but nervous contenders. Before I had the chance to put butter and jam on my roll, the fight was over. That unpredictability is also a part of the charm of the fight to survive that takes place in the ring. Nonetheless, it helps to put the boxers’ hourly salary in the perspective of the extravaganza that symbolizes the highpoint of athletes within the postmodern economy of sports.
Both boxers have done well in terms of brand capitalization but Mayweather Jr. differentiates himself via his ability to capitalize on his popularity and that of boxing, which is a huge portion of the explanation behind the huge portions of money going to both boxers from this event. Both boxers are among the strongest sports brand in the world measured on revenue generation; Mayweather Jr. is no. 1. In that sense, tonight’s fight is very relevant, as it will ‘boost’ both fighters’ income in 2015 considerably. There is definitely a case of a gigantic payday for the two boxers. From this fight alone, Pacquiao will most likely see earnings between $80 and $120 mio. depending on the pay-per-view consumption. This fight is thought to outperform the record of Mayweather Jr. vs. De La Hoya for most pay-per-view buys of 2.48 mio. and Mayweather Jr. may see earnings that are 50-60 % higher than Pacquiao from pay-per-view. Mayweather Jr. is the king of pay-per-view and the importance of the fight and the following hype present reliable expectations for a new benchmark for pay-per-view in boxing, which will generate the above-mentioned revenues for both boxers. Corporate sponsorship agreements supplement pay-per-view revenues although sponsorships will not reach the level of pay-per-view. This way, boxing is differentiated from other sports, e.g. the best golf and tennis stars earn most of their money from corporate sponsorship agreements and cannot rely on pay-per-view and appearance money at the same level as these two boxers see from one fight or performance. Mayweather Jr.’s cash cow is pay-per-view and his previous fight against Canelo Alvarez marked a new revenue record from pay-per-view, ticket sales for the live event and the overall revenue generation and thus the capitalization from the his 6-fight deal with media supplier Showtime; this record will be broken tonight. On the other hand, Pacquiao’s down-to-earth attitude has been a greater success among corporate sponsors and Pacquiao has also experienced a fine economic return from controlling TV-rights to his own fights in his native Philippines. All in all, this fight is about who turns out to leave the ring as the strongest man and hence survives the brutal rivalry, to which boxing lovers worldwide will be exposed. The rhetoric, mental and physical meaning of survival linked to the two boxers in the ring acts as a fantastic ferocious, staging and fan-appealing aspect of boxing, which reinforces the massive fan identification. The latter is directly connected with the articulation and the consumption of the fight via all the world’s diverse media platforms, which underline a central reason for revenue potential of tonight’s fight and the two fighters. I am really looking forward to this fight, which will be the Super Bowl of boxing in 2015.
Check out the infographic above (source: USA Today).