Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor have not reached agreement on terms for a fight despite an Irish tabloid report, but McGregor is in Las Vegas and interested in furthering a discussion beyond public banter, according to officials in contact with the fighters.
Mayweather, who retired from boxing in September 2015 with an immaculate 49-0 record, was said to have been surprised Tuesday to learn of an Irish Sun report that the pair have agreed to terms for a fight that the tabloid reported could be announced this month.
He’s expressed interest in a boxing match against the popular UFC lightweight champion McGregor, who has relied on his stand-up striking to repeatedly knock down both Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez in his last two fights.
But unlike the chance cross-court encounter at a Miami Heat game that pushed Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao talks across the finish line for their long-anticipated May 2015 bout won by Mayweather by unanimous decision, no such personal meeting has happened between the boxer and the UFC champion.
McGregor, in Las Vegas on other business, is interested in possibly accomplishing that sit-down within the next 48 hours.
Part of that discussion would likely touch on purse-split percentages. UFC President Dana White has said he’d pay each fighter $25 million, but that figure seems low for both fighters considering the interest in the spectacle and the fact Mayweather once collected a $250-million purse for a big fight.
“No deal is even close to being done,” White texted The Times early Tuesday afternoon.
Although there has been hinting by those around the fighters that White has met with Mayweather’s longtime advisor, Al Haymon, White did not immediately respond when asked if he’s met with Haymon, who does not speak to the media.
A White-Haymon meeting “is the only way this is going to happen, not the two fighters getting together,” said a veteran fight official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly on the matter due to business dealings.
The UFC can’t let its biggest star participate in potentially the richest pay-per-view of the year without being involved, the official said.
“This is about [the UFC] protecting its franchise and about those who invested $4 billion in the company [in a July sale] -- protecting their investment. There’s much more at stake here than $100 million for Conor McGregor. This is about $4 billion.”
White has made it clear McGregor’s under contract to the UFC, insisting the UFC would be part of any promotion, and smartly proposing that an undercard could be stacked with intriguing UFC bouts, as the three-title-fight UFC debut card in November was.
Mayweather has said he wants Showtime involved in the broadcast after the premium network handled his final six boxing matches.
The bottom line is each fighter wants to maximize what they will earn.
That’s an undertaking that’s easier for Mayweather, considering his freedom from a promoter, the value of which was seen when he collected nearly $250 million on the Pacquiao fight with a far greater percentage of the purse.
Thus, McGregor wants to retain as much control as possible about ensuring his price.
What’s it mean that he’s in Las Vegas on Tuesday?
“It looks like things are picking up and trending in the right direction,” answered a confidant, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because there was no clearance to speak publicly on the matter. “Nothing's done. Nobody's agreed to anything. That's smoke."