LAS VEGAS – If Richard Schaefer looked a bit nervous standing near his fighters on a massive stage this week at the MGM Grand, he had reason.
In a city of high rollers, the head of Golden Boy Promotions is taking the biggest gamble of all. He’s got $60 million on the line that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez will not only deliver a great fight Saturday, but deliver at the box office, too.
He’s betting the 152-pound matchup between two unbeaten fighters will be a blockbuster, perhaps the richest fight ever. And there are not a lot of wise guys in this gambling city who would bet against him.
“My goal is to break the record,” Schaefer said. “I think we will do 2 million homes, which will make it the single biggest pay-per-view in boxing.”
If it is, it will be largely because Golden Boy is charging the single biggest price for a boxing match, a whopping $74.95 if you want to watch in HD. That will give boxing fans at home not only the most anticipated fight in years but a 140-pound title fight between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse that would be a headline bout anywhere else.
Want to be there in person? You can still find a seat on the main floor for $9,422.
Schaefer said the fight is such a hot ticket for the celebrity crowd that they’re calling asking to buy tickets instead of getting them free.
“Saturday could be a $200 million night,” Schaefer said. “Boxing is hardly a dying sport.”
Not when it has the country’s highest-paid athlete. Mayweather will make at least $41.5 million for the 12-rounder, bringing his salary this year to $73 million in two fights. Alvarez, the red-headed star from Mexico, won’t do too badly himself, with a $5 million guarantee and a chance to make double that if the fight is a hit.
For Schaefer and Golden Boy it’s more complicated. They get a windfall guarantee from Showtime, which Schaefer says doesn’t even cover Mayweather’s purse. And after splitting with cable and satellite firms, they’ll end up with about $35 from every house that buys the fight.
Toss in a $19.9 million live gate and a few million here and there from sponsorships and foreign rights sales, and it could be a nice payday indeed for the company Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya founded.
“I’m going to obviously get some money Monday morning,” Schaefer said. “But I’m going to be out by the time the first bell rings well over $60 million.”
Those in boxing familiar with big fight promotions don’t think Schaefer will have to worry.
He begins to make money at about 1.5 million pay-per-view buys, and the indications are that this fight will exceed that, though getting to 2 million might be a stretch (Mayweather’s 2007 fight with De La Hoya is the biggest selling boxing pay-per-view at 2.4 million buys).
Mayweather is the big driver behind those sales, of course. But the 23-year-old Alvarez is already a huge star in Mexico and is seen as the biggest challenger to Mayweather.
Oddsmakers favor Mayweather by 21/2 to 1, narrow odds by his standards.