A fight between retired boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and UFC star Conor McGregor appears set for August. (Steve Marcus / Associated Press)
LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor posted on their social media Wednesday that, “It’s Official!!!” and “The Fight Is On,” hours after an Aug. 26 fight date at MGM Grand was approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Mayweather Promotions secured the Showtime-televised pay-per-view date, setting up a novel and much-talked-about showdown between the 40-year-old Mayweather (49-0), who retired as boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, and McGregor, the UFC’s only simultaneous two-division champion.
While Mayweather’s supreme skill, seen in his one-sided victory over Manny Pacquiao in 2015, is viewed as the top reason why McGregor is considered more than a 25/1 underdog, the brash Irishman’s verbal ability and striking power creates sufficient intrigue in selling a fight that could potentially challenge Mayweather-Pacquiao’s 4.6 million pay-per-view buys.
Thanks to months of taunts, McGregor goaded former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo into pursuing a quick knockout in their 2015 meeting. Instead, Aldo rushed into a left-handed punch and was finished in a title-fight-record 13 seconds.
McGregor later avenged a loss to heavier Nate Diaz with sharp boxing skills, and he decked then-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez repeatedly en route to finishing him in November.
Mayweather’s resume includes boxing sessions against the talented likes of world-class pugilists Oscar De La Hoya, Diego Corrales, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Pacquiao.
The deal came suddenly and surprisingly.
A late-night phone call from Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe to re-attach the agenda item of the Aug. 26 date to Wednesday’s Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting was agreed upon , as was the slotting of the date.
MGM Grand was also the venue for the record-shattering $72 million live gate for Mayweather’s victory over Pacquiao.
Mayweather, his manager, Al Haymon, and UFC President Dana White were said to be still negotiating purse splits and pay-per-view percentages when McGregor first posted his news, creatively flashing a picture of Floyd Mayweather Sr., instead of his son in a side-by-side Twitter post.
While some insiders speculated the date was too soon to meet, given the talks and the necessary training time, both fighters have recently posted social-media photos of themselves back in the gym, and the date is ideal for McGregor, who has told White he’d like to fight once in the UFC, as well, before the end of the year.
While Mayweather, 40, has been sidelined since announcing his retirement following a victory over Andre Berto in September 2015, McGregor has been off since producing the striking clinic in winning the lightweight (155-pound) belt from Alvarez in November in the main event of the UFC’s first Madison Square Garden card.
McGregor has taken this year off to tend to the birth of his first child, a son.
The placement of the fight at MGM Grand might seem odd considering that T-Mobile across The Strip seats about 4,000 more fans, but a fight promotional expert said MGM Grand is ideal because it allows Mayweather and Haymon to dictate prices to ticket brokers.
“They know the formula, know what the supply and demand will be,” said the official, who declined to be identified because he’s employed by a rival promoter.
“By adding in 4,000 extra seats, the brokers might’ve tried to say, ‘We’re not paying that … ,’ but now they really have no choice.”