You know what’s the definition of cruelty? It’s when you get screwed even when you’re getting what you want. With that in mind, The Cruelest Sport is more than living up to its name these days. And no, I’m not talking about the savage fight between Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov last Saturday, or the brutal knockout of Thomas Dulorme by Terence Crawford that same night. I’m talking about how fight fans are getting screwed left and right in their attempts to see the biggest fight of our time in Mayweather vs Pacquiao.
But at The Fight City we’re all about positive criticism, and to prove it to you we bring you six super-duper suggestions that would’ve made #MayPac an even more memorable, truly “for the fans” sort of event. Maybe it’s too late to implement these surefire fixes now, but at least they’ll be available for the rematch.
Stadium, not arena
By far, fans’ loudest complaint about Mayweather vs Pacquiao regards the lack of tickets available to the average fan. Let’s face it, celebrities and VIPs don’t sustain the sport, the average fan does, by shelling out their hard-earned money for cable subscriptions, pay-per-views, and for tickets. That’s why learning only 500 tickets would be made available to the public, with the nosebleeds starting at $1,500, felt like such a slap to the face for most boxingheads.
With an event of this magnitude, it defies belief a stadium-owning magnate like Jerry Jones wouldn’t have offered Cowboys Stadium to hold Mayweather vs Pacquiao. The NFL owner would’ve bent over backwards to make things as easy as possible to have the fight there, and over 80,000 fans–five times more than fit inside the the MGM Grand!–would’ve happily shelled out serious dough to be there in person. We’re way past the blaming game, but whoever is in charge of the next mega fight worthy of being called “The Super Bowl of Boxing” needs to remember to book a Super Bowl-sized venue to accommodate it.
Since we’re on the subject of venue, we might as well come clean and say that Mayweather vs Pacquiao would’ve been a much more fan-friendly event if it wasn’t held in Vegas. Let’s face it: Vegas is the biggest and most successful hustle in North American tourism, seeking nothing else than to part visitors with their money as quickly and efficiently as possible. Even if you don’t gamble, you’ll have to say good-bye to a lot of green if you find yourself in Sin City.
So why not hold the biggest fight of the century in a true metropolis, one that’s actually inhabited by thousands, or even millions, of boxing fans? L.A., New York, or any big city in Texas would fit the bill. Media would have a much easier time covering the fight, fans would find it easier to arrive to and stay in such a venue, and the lucky city would be taken hostage by the event much like Super Bowl-hosting cities are. Local businesses would also get a nice cut of all that action, which would make for a nice contrast to Vegas, where most of the casinos and resorts are owned by just a few corporations. If you want a mega-event to have a unique and local flavour, it has to get out of Vegas.
As tough as fight fans think they’ve had it with Mayweather vs Pacquiao, in fact they’re lucky they had any chance at all to buy tickets. Back in 1999, a total of zero tickets were made available to the public for the fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad, with all of them being distributed by promoters and casinos to the lucky few on their VIP lists. Needless to say, the 500 tickets available through Ticketmaster for Mayweather vs Pacquiao were sold within less than a minute. But what’s more disturbing, is it’s likely most of them were bought by scalping agencies, who will resell the tickets at exorbitant prices.
If our suggestion of changing the venue is not plausible for whatever reason, then a good way to ensure at least some real fight fans get inside the MGM Grand would’ve been to hold a ticket lottery. This is how the NFL ensures that not all Super Bowl tickets are hogged by the rich and famous, and it’s what would’ve lent some credibility to #MayPac’s “for the fans“mantra.
Willy Wonka Golden Ticket
If even a ticket lottery is too much to handle for the promoters and the MGM Grand, then what about a Wonka-like Golden Ticket giveaway? It would’ve been so easy for Tecate to print a few coupons and place them in their twelve-packs for a few lucky fans to find. If you find a coupon, you get a ticket to #MayPac. It’s that simple! Imagine all the publicity this stunt would’ve generated not only for the fight itself, but also for the sponsor. That no one thought of this speaks to how poorly organized this event is, and makes you wonder how much money is being left on the table because of a lack of creativity. Short of having live Oompa-Loompas serving as Floyd’s and Manny’s cornermen, the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket is the best marketing idea Mayweather vs Pacquiao never implemented.
Early start time
We’ve heard over and over how Mayweather vs Pacquiao is the biggest fight in boxing and how everyone’s looking forward to it. This fight is so big even Dr. Phil is counseling Pacquiao. It’s so big that a bunch of celebrities–some of which have never even seen a boxing fight before–are stepping over each other to give a prediction on it. It’s so big that every revenue record for a sporting event is about to be shattered into a million pieces.
Then why, oh, why do fight fans, not a young demographic by any means, have to stay up beyond midnight to watch it? Every other major sports event has very decent starting times, ranging from noon to about 7 or 8 at night. The Mayweather vs Pacquiao broadcast, however, has a starting time of 9 p.m. Eastern, which means the main event won’t begin before 11 p.m.
And before you say that this is the complaint of an old geezer who just wants to go to bed early, think about how many children won’t be able to watch the fight with their parents because of the late start time. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that if boxing wants to recapture the market share it had in decades past, maybe courting the younger generations is a good place to start. Take a poll among fight fans you know and ask them how they became fans. Chances are at least half of them will tell you about the first fight they saw when they were kids. The short of it is if #MayPac turns out to be a good fight, by denying kids the chance to see it, boxing will be denying itself the chance to attract thousands of new life-long fans among its ranks.
Lower PPV price
And now that we’re talking about this mega-fight reaching the masses, how about lowering that PPV price tag a little bit? Most of those who supply a good or service set a price that maximizes revenue only after a careful study involving supply and demand curves, price elasticities and so forth. Honestly, the haphazard way in which The Money Team, Top Rank, HBO, and Showtime put together this fight doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence regarding whatever analysis they conducted to arrive at their $100 price.
If you think about it, despite being the huge event it is, #MayPac looks like it was made with Lincoln logs and is held together with duct tape. Allegedly the fight wouldn’t have happened had Floyd and Manny not met by chance at a basketball game. Bob Arum himself complained time and again about contracts being delayed and not getting signed. The Pacquiao and Mayweather teams fought over drug testing well into their training camps. The tickets were only printed and distributed less than two weeks from fight night. What kind of megafight is that? Answer: a very disorganized one.
I suspect the promoters and networks only stamped the $100 price on the PPV because it sounds like a cool, record-shattering number. Given the magnitude of the event, however, I would be willing to bet that the amount of viewers would increase more than enough to make up for a lower price if the PPV tag was reduced. Really, if you’re not going to give fans the chance to see the fight live, the least you could do is make it easy for them to watch it at home. And I know for a fact that this guy, a boxer himself, would’ve opted to watch at home if the PPV was cheaper. Doesn’t it seem wrong that an undefeated professional boxer, just like Mayweather himself, can’t even afford to see the biggest boxing fight ever? Karl Marx wouldn’t be proud at all.
Showtime’s and HBO’s producers may think otherwise, but there’s really no need to keep harping on about Mayweather’s and Pacquiao’s luxurious lifestyle and swollen bank accounts. We’re all very impressed with Floyd Mayweather’s car and jewelry collections, to say nothing of Manny Pacquiao’s astounding unpaid tax bills. But you know what would impress the world even more than that? To see the richest prizefighters in history donate a little bit of that mountain of cash they’re about to earn to a worthy cause. As an added benefit, wouldn’t that be a great way to generate at least a tiny amount of goodwill towards a controversial sport that sorely lacks it?
Despite the mainstream media’s best efforts, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Mayweather’s been jailed for domestic violence and arrested or cited for a slew of abusive incidents against women. A nice contrast to Floyd’s unrepentant behaviour would’ve been to see Money May donate some cash to an organization that supports victims of domestic violence, an act that wouldn’t fully make up for his criminal actions but which could in some way be interpreted as an apology to society. The fact that neither him nor anyone on his team even thought of the idea speaks volumes about their complete lack of shame, as well as to an unbelievable degree of avarice.