Not all of Manny Pacquiao’s profits from Saturday’s fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. will come from his work in the ring. The world champion also has hard-won endorsement deals that will pay him an additional $8 million no matter what happens in the ring.
And for that he can thank Lucia McKelvey, the executive vice president for new media and marketing with Top Rank, which promotes Pacquiao’s fights.
McKelvey, a former IMG executive, brought a background in endorsements to Top Rank when she joined the company four years ago. So Chairman Bob Arum asked her to clean up Pacquiao’s promotional portfolio.
She did more than a little housekeeping, though, signing the fighter with megafirms such as Hewlett-Packard. In the last five months she has added deals with Nike, Foot Locker and Nestle as well as a super-secret campaign with a company she won’t name.
"It is the biggest deal that he’s ever had,” she teased. "If anyone can pick up on the clues, they can figure it out. And that’s kind of what they want to have happen.
"It’s actually happening right before your eyes."
Pacquiao won’t be the favorite going into Saturday’s fight, but McKelvey says even that works to his favor because the public loves an underdog.
“Win or lose, Manny is the fan favorite. So I think brands feel really comfortable saying, 'Hey, even if he’s knocked out in that ring, we still love him. We’re still supporting him,'" said McKelvey, who said she was careful to have Pacquiao sign three- and six-month deals that can be renegotiated this summer. "If he wins, it’s going to upgrade his stock no matter what.
"But if he loses, I’ve never seen one of his sponsors just back away and say, 'I don’t want to have anything to do with him.'"
That’s happened with other athletes, McKelvey said, referencing Tiger Woods, who made the management consulting firm Accenture a household name before a series of extramarital affairs forced the company to cut ties with the golfer.
"Manny is not free from human error," McKelvey said. "I think Tiger Woods showed that no one’s free of human error.
"So the same person that kind of gave rise to athlete ambassadors -- personal endorsements -- gave fall to it a little bit."
Read the Los Angeles Times’ special edition Flipboard digital magazine Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.