Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor fight: What you need to know about the build up
Everything you need to know ahead the Aug. 26 boxing pay-per-view in Las Vegas
The sport of boxing has itself a rather unlikely superfight asWednesday from a two-year retirement to face UFC champion Conor McGregor on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The announcement of such a circus boxing pay-per-view left in its wake an almost surreal feeling as Mayweather, 40 and the greatest boxer of his era, will face the trash-talking cash register that is McGregor in a fight that's expected to be.
Only a smattering of details were released once Mayweather announced the fight on Instagram, leaving a number of legitimate questions unanswered. But the major participants took part in a media conference call late Wednesday to help fill in the blanks.
Consider this an FAQ of sorts with information from UFC president Dana White, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe and Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza.
What weight will the fight be contested at? Mayweather and McGregor will fight at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, where Mayweather has fought three times. McGregor has won UFC titles at 145 and 155 pounds, and fought twice at 170 in 2016.
But Ellerbe revealed Mayweather has "no issues at all" accepting McGregor's preference for the higher weight.
What about drug testing? USADA, which has handled the majority of Mayweather's recent fights and signed a partnership with UFC in 2015 to create an out-of-competition drug testing program, will be in charge.
"I have so much respect for Floyd Mayweather because when we were in the negotiations talking about it, I said Conor is right now in the USADA program and is being drug tested right now," White said. "They didn't even flinch about drug testing so much respect to Floyd about that."
How much will the PPV cost? "We haven't [set the price] yet," White said. "The deal got done and then all the business will be handled now."
But in reference to the fact that Mayweather's 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao was sold for $100 a pop, White agreed that "for a superfight like this, you can't charge what you would normally charge for a pay-per-view." So get ready to spend for this one.
How will the fight purse be split? Ellerbe revealed a confidentially clause that was in place preventing either fighter from sharing financial specifics but said with a laugh that "everyone is happy."
What sort of penalties are in place should McGregor use any illegal MMA strikes during the fight? "Oh yeah, that will not happen," White said. "That will not happen. That is absolutely in the contract, number one, and number two, this is a boxing match under the Nevada State Athletic Commission under the rules of boxing.
"You talk about a guy of Floyd Mayweather's value in the sport, the lawsuit if that ever happened -- Conor likes money and Conor would depart with a lot of money if that ever happened. That will not happen."
Who will promote and televise the fight? Mayweather Promotions, which secured the Aug. 26 date at a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing hours before it was announced, will be the promoter of record. Showtime, which broadcast Mayweather's final six fights after signing him to a record-breaking deal in 2013, will handle the pay-per-view.
"Showtime is the exclusive distributor of Floyd Mayweather's fight but they were kind enough to open the gate and let us do some stuff too," White said. "We are going to do UFC Embedded like we do for our fights and we will have other things. But at the end of the day, Showtime is running this show."
Although information regarding the likely possibility of multi-city promotional tours was not addressed, Espinoza said, "It's going to be a massive promotion."
Will the broadcast feature a mix of boxing and MMA commentators? Although Espinoza reiterated that Showtime is controlling production, he said it is very much a collaboration.
"Mauro [Ranallo] is our go-to guy and has a history in both boxing and MMA, but we are going to sit with Dana and his colleagues and Leonard and put together a team which makes the most sense for the good of the event."
White said he has no problem with whatever Showtime decides and wouldn't necessarily push for his own talent to join the team.
Will the undercard feature boxing or MMA? Ellerbe said he plan is for boxing only, with Mayweather himself saying in recent weeks that he hopes to use the platform to showcase the top talents in his company. Espinoza hopes to create a large and extended undercard with "entertaining fights in both he afternoon and evening."
How does this boxing match affect McGregor's future in the UFC in 2017? "I'm pretty confident in the conversation that I had with him, he's fired up to fight again and defend his title at the end of the year but nothing is ever guaranteed," White said. "You can't be guaranteed anybody is ever going to fight again."
Will the UFC consider counter promoting the card in any way or televising an MMA event earlier in the day? No. White was quick to shoot down any notion that this would be true, saying, "There will be no UFC that day, this is a boxing day."
Has White been approached by other UFC fighters hoping to cross over to boxing? White revealed he assumed it would be much more difficult to make a deal with Mayweather and Showtime, and was pleasantly surprised. But he laughed at the notion that this was the beginning of further collaborations (despite UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic's desires).
"It was the right fight at the right place at the right time," White said. "Yeah, I don't want to be doing this every weekend."
What were the biggest points of contention in the deal between both sides? White was quick to jump out and say there wasn't any at all, calling it "really smooth," which was instantly supported by both Espinoza and Ellerbe.
What about the thought process that new UFC owners WME-IMG only allowed McGregor to take this fight so the company could help pay off debt accrued from last July's $4 billion sale? White was animated about this one, largely calling it a stupid question while correcting any misconstrued thought that he ever attempted to prevent McGregor from pursuing it.
"As far as the debt goes, Conor can fight twice this year and we're going to do fine anyway," White said. "This is a fight that Conor wanted, Mayweather wanted and the fans wanted it. So we're doing it."
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