A fight for the fans…right?!
On Wednesday afternoon, a gala affair was held at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live to formally announce the May 2 bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Despite being the one and only press conference touting the event, the festivities were kicked off by a red carpet ceremony that had everyone from CNN (not sure if they sent out Wolf Blitzer) and “Entertainment Tonight” involved, along with the usual suspects who cover these functions.
This is much more than a prizefight; this is truly an event that has transcended not just the sports realm but pop culture as well.
A familiar mantra during the early stages of this promotion is how this fight is “for the fans.” Of course the reported $300 million the fighters will split (with a 60/40 split in favor of “Money”) had a bit of something to do with it; I’m sure.
Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, who presided over the event (as they are the lead promoter for this event), announced that tickets will be priced between $1,500 and $7,500 – no, my first figure is NOT a misprint. I didn’t add an extra zero – basically meaning this is an event for the “one percent.” What’s really maddening is that those who actually have the economic means really won’t have an opportunity to even purchase those tickets at face value because, if you look around, you’ll see that these tickets (which will be incredibly difficult to attain) are already floating around the secondary market and have been marked up significantly.
As Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum has mentioned before, unless you’re that whale who is dropping $25,000 a hand at Baccarat or any other table game and the type of hotel guest flown into Las Vegas on a private jet and chauffeured via limo, an A-list celebrity or a multi-millionaire, you aren’t getting into this event. Whoever the modern day Frank Sinatra is, he’d probably have to be a photographer for a website like TMZ to see Mayweather-Pacquiao up close.
You wonder just how many tickets will actually be sold to the public but there is a precedent for all this. Back in 1999 when Felix Trinidad faced Oscar De La Hoya at the Mandalay Bay, not a single ticket was made available. Instead all the casinos on the strip purchased tickets for their players. Based on what a dud that bout was, perhaps Joe Public got lucky in retrospect.
But even as tickets officially go on sale, you’ll still hear complaints from those who set up five laptops and had seven of their family members on their phones ready to go to call in for tickets from the very second they go on sale, only to be told less than five minutes later that no more are available. Hey, I respect the effort. I do wonder though how many of these same individuals are those who laugh or scoff as Arum, in the past, talked of taking a fight of this magnitude to a venue like Cowboys Stadium (where he staged two Pacquiao promotions) or just building his own makeshift stadium in Las Vegas. But yeah, imagine the nerve of this guy trying to actually encourage more fans and their interest in attending a fight of this nature.
Now, I realize other events like the Super Bowl and Final Four have a certain scarcity of tickets and are often brokered but there is a key difference here – those events are on free television.
Here, the only other alternative is pay-per-view and, speaking of which, while the price has not been announced as of yet, the rumor is it will be in the neighborhood of $100. Hey, someone has to pay for this five-year delay; it might as well be you working stiffs.
And why are they doing this? Well, it’s as simple as supply-and-demand. They’re doing it because they CAN.
In fact, word is there won’t even be an auxiliary media section (which is basically a section in the venue that’s not amid press row, where the media is typically seated). When tickets are worth ten of thousands of dollars, EVERY single seat at the MGM Grand is highly coveted. I’m told this might be the case because, due to the media interest in this fight (and nearly 700 credential requests were submitted for this press conference), your customary press row for this event will be made up of a lot of entities who cover boxing about once a decade except for a few (with enough circulation and a strong enough relationship to the fighters) who will be seated at their usual ringside perch.
The rest of us boxing peasants (and yeah, I know where I stand) will be sent to a room where they will watch the fight on monitors. There will understandably be a lot of hurt feelings and anger over this but I’m sure the same crew who will be relegated to this set-up will soon be pitched stories to do on the next “ShoBox” by May 4. Those who have loyally toiled, worked the beat and covered one forgettable card after another will be cast aside for the likes of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, that deemed boxing beneath them a long time ago. Hey, life isn’t fair. It is what it is (and for the record, I’m fully expecting to watch this fight with a group of friends in Los Angeles. Hey, at least this way, I can drink as much alcohol as I please and root openly for whomever I want on that evening. But yeah, I’m not going to Las Vegas to watch a fight on a TV).
But hey, we wanted Mayweather-Pacquiao for years.
We all asked for this.
RED CARPET FLURRIES
It was pretty civil during the actual presser. In fact, Bob had Floyd laughing at one point at which Bob looked over at Floyd and said, “See, Floyd? You missed me, right?”…They also served us media folks breakfast, which was nice. Next time, can we get some oatmeal?…Oh, yeah, if the Colts get both Frank Gore (who’s on board) and then Andre Johnson, I’m all-in on Indianapolis (yeah, that’s my Miami bias, admittedly)…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.