LAS VEGAS (AFP) – Hype will collide with reality here Saturday as boxing legend Floyd Mayweather takes on mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor in a battle of combat sport kings tipped to be the richest fight in history.
A little over two months after the fight was confirmed in June, Mayweather and McGregor will touch gloves at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena in a 12-round boxing contest which will be beamed to more than 200 countries and territories.
Fight promoters have breathlessly talked about the bout surpassing the $600 million (508 million euros) generated by Mayweather’s 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao, insisting that interest has been off chart.
‘’This is the biggest event that has ever happened in combat sports,’’ said Dana White, the chief executive of MMA’s Ultimate Fighting Championship.
‘’This fight will reach over a billion homes worldwide.’’
Ringside seats were being offered on secondary ticket markets for an eye-watering $100,250 apiece as of Thursday, even though some 1,700 seats in the 20,000-capacity venue remained unsold.
Millions of fans across the United States meanwhile are expected to shell out $99.95 to watch the fight on pay-per-view television, the most important economic engine of the spectacle.
The sense of anticipation has endured despite an unrelenting chorus of disparagement across the boxing world.
Farce. Freakshow. Circus. Mismatch. Rip-off. Bad for boxing.
It has been impossible to follow the build-up to the fight without being made aware of the near-universal tide of derision.
A cursory glance at the tale of the tape explains the cynicism.
Mayweather, 40, is one of the most skilled boxers of his generation, a master of ringcraft who retired in 2015 after a glittering 21-year career with a perfect 49-0 record.