The enigmatic Floyd Mayweather extended his streak to 49-0 with a comprehensive points victory over Filipino multi-weight champion, Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas back in May. As the Mayweather circus show rolled into Vegas, many thought it was a formality that the unbeaten American would defeat the Filipino, regardless of his challenger’s stature in the sport of boxing.
Mayweather was said to be earning a reported $200 million from his latest fight at the MGM Grand as reported by International Business Times. The news website stated Mayweather was getting paid a flat $100 million for his show money and then he would receive add-ons via sponsorship deals and PPV sales.
However, it’s not only the welterweight world champion that benefitted from fighting in Sin City. Without doubt, Mayweather made his name in the city over the years, as Vegas became his primary fight destination. The pound-for-pound great might not be the most loved fighter of all time, but Vegas certainly became reliant on his pulling power during the early 2000s and more so in recent years.
Mayweather was once quoted as saying that he brought in around $1 billion to the Vegas casinos, resorts and business during his fight weekends. Now, that figure might have been embellished a little, but his pulling power could never be questioned regardless of how polarizing a character.
There’s arguably no bigger star in world sport than Mayweather, regardless of whether he just recently announced his retirement. Forbes once again had Mayweather as the #1 highest earner in sports with him reportedly raking in $300 million in his last year of fighting. His earnings eclipsed the likes of boxing rival Pacquiao ($160m), soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo ($79.6m) and Lionel Messi ($73.3m), as well as tennis great Roger Federer ($67m).
While Mayweather has announced his retirement, many feel that he could yet make a return to the ring. That’s not to say the money hasn’t stopped rolling in. He earned $15 million from endorsements this year alone and will continue to in the coming years in the same way as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson have as they embraced retirement. Both Jordan and Johnson’s brand could be argued as timeless due to their legacy, and Mayweather will look to follow this blueprint.
But, with Mayweather’s HBO deal now finished, Vegas is still reeling from losing the city’s biggest sporting draw. Remember, Vegas doesn’t have a professional sports team, and the boxing star’s fights were the highlight of the annual sports calendar in the city.
With around 39 million visits to Vegas in 2014, it resulted in the city’s gaming industry being worth a cool $6.5 billion. This figure will undoubtedly to take a huge hit if Mayweather stays retired. The actual reported amount that Mayweather brought to the gaming capital of the world is around 100 million per fight according to Bleacher Report.
Yes, Vegas has taken its knocks over the years, most notably because of the advent of Internet gambling. When the first casino portal emerged in 1996 a flurry of online poker rooms followed which had an adverse affect on land-based casino’s revenues. Now, Vegas casinos have to contend with reputable online websites taking a bigger slice of gaming industry pie, year-on-year. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that leading betting exchange & casino Betfair published profits of $92.9 million. And it’s portals of this stature that are impacting physical casinos.
Although many casinos recouped these lost revenues by diversifying what entertainment they offered the consumer. Things like boxing helped the likes of the MGM cater to new audiences and appeal to a wider or new market. That’s not to say that online gaming hasn’t greatly impacted the industry – it has. And what with their golden boy hanging up his gloves, this comes as more bad news for Vegas.
However, it’s not just the initial $100 million per fight that Vegas casinos will be missing when Mayweather retires. They will also miss the exposure that a global star such as Mayweather provides the city. So, as Vegas longs for its favorite son to return to the ring, let’s look forward to ushering in a new generation of sporting stars that can make casinos the revenues Mayweather has over the years.
Is this possible? Only time will tell. But, with the UFC now establishing roots in Vegas, is it time for Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor to take up the mantel of the biggest combat sports star in the world?