It’s one fight that doesn’t need more fireworks to draw attention to it, but with fans spending so much for a seat, why not maximize the arena entertainment?
Promoter Bob Arum said Friday he sought to bring a more attention-grabbing arena show to Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight at the MGM Grand Hotel, where the prices of face-value tickets range from $2,500-$10,000 and the average secondary-market ticket price on StubHub was around $6,000 on Friday.
“What has happened here in this promotion ... a lot of it has been inexplicable,” said Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter. “We wanted to present this fight with hoopla, great lighting, all of that, so we wanted to do a special with the lights.
“We went to Showtime, said we’d like to do this, and were asked how much it was going to cost -- legitimate question -- and we said $400,000.”
Arum said he was told, “To do it is just vanity.”
Arum said Todd duBoef, the president of his company, Top Rank, discussed the situation with HBO, which has paired up with Showtime to offer pay-per-view of the fight, and was told the premium cable network would share the cost with Arum.
“We went to [Showtime vice president Stephen] Espinoza, said, ‘Problem solved, we’re going to make this really great,’” Arum said.
The reply was no, Arum said.
Espinoza told The Times on Friday that “Mayweather Promotions would not agree to turning over control of the in-arena experience to Top Rank’s team to implement Top Rank/Pacquiao’s signature look.”
Mayweather is the lead promoter of the fight.
“I had concerns about scrapping our existing lighting plan and starting from scratch with a new plan and completely different personnel with just a few days to go before we started load-in,” Espinoza said.
Arum said he isn’t sure the existing lighting plan could’ve matched his company’s, and he speculated that Mayweather’s powerful manager, Al Haymon, had a strong voice in the decision.
“Why no? Who is no? Do I really know why he said no? I think so,” Arum said.
Haymon’s new Premier Boxing Champions series, which has already televised fights on NBC, CBS and Spike TV, presents a sharp, visual package in the arena.
“The guy pulling the strings at Showtime, just like he is at MGM, is Haymon, and Haymon doesn’t want this to be a great-looking promotion because then it might show up his PBC,” Arum said.
“It’s as insidious as that. This is a serious cancer on the sport of boxing.”