The long-anticipated boxing match between the great prize-fighter Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will go ahead on August 26 in Las Vegas.
Both fighters announced the event on Wednesday, after months of speculation about whether Mayweather would return at the age of 40 to face a mixed martial arts fighter who has never had a pro boxing fight.
The contest will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission having approved the date for a Mayweather Promotions fight, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett confirmed.
Bennett did not confirm as yet that McGregor will a get a boxing license from the state administrators, though that now seems a formality.
Mayweather was immediately placed 11-1 favourite in a fight that will take place in a boxing ring and be governed by boxing rules. It will take place at 154 pounds.
McGregor, the two-weight MMA star, is making the move into boxing to face Mayweather, who retired in September 2015 with a record of 49 wins no losses.
The event is expected to generate more than half a billion dollars and has every chance of breaking the pay per view record of 4.5 million buys, set when Mayweather met Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.
What remains to be set are the terms for the fight, the rounds to be boxed, and how and where the fight, bringing two different sports together, will be aired.
“This is really an unprecedented event,” said Stephen Espinoza, who heads Showtime Sports, which will handle the pay-per-view.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Espinoza said: “There was a significant impediment that was removed a couple of weeks ago and that was the UFC going on record saying they didn’t want Conor to participate. They have reached some kind of accommodation to allow that to happen.”
Espinoza said that Showtime, who had a promotional deal with Mayweather, were keen to be involved in the business. “Our understanding is that Floyd continues to have a relationship both personally and business wise with us. We will be involved. It will be a ppv event in the US,” said Espinoza.
Espinoza added that he understood why the contest was taking place, even though many boxing purists were against it. “I understand it completely. I’m of the mind that variety is the spice of life to some extent. There are some scientific fights I love, and some brawls I love,” explained Espinoza.
“Everyone knows what this is. It’s a spectacular event. For the boxing purists the main event is not going to be something they are attracted to. But in terms of a spectacle and entertainment and some excitement, I think there will be no shortage of that.”
Most dismiss McGregor’s chances under boxing rules against one of the greatest defensive fighters in history. Adding to McGregor’s challenge the fighters will be using 10-ounce boxing gloves instead of the smaller UFC gloves and he will not be allowed to use the leg kicks or takedowns that are used in mixed martial arts.
Asked whether he thought Mayweather could lose, Espinoza said: “You never know. It’s been two years since we’ve seen Floyd in the ring. We don’t know what those two years have done to him. So you can never assume we know what’s going to happen. But ultimately I’ve never been on the mind that Mayweather Pacquiao, for example, had a hangover. I think that was a convenient excuse for a lot of people whose ppvs didn’t perform.”
People know, though, what they are getting with Mayweather-McGregor, the television sports execrative added. “There were quite a few fights that didn’t need to be on ppv and they were. When they didn’t perform, you look for a scapegoat and the scapegoat was Mayweather Pacquiao.
“I don’t think anyone is sitting at home saying I’m not going to buy the Terence Crawford ppv because 18 months prior I really didn’t enjoy Mayweather Pacquiao. I doubt people will have the same takeaway from a Mayweather McGregor fight. There’s no one who buys that fight that doesn’t know what they’re getting.”
“It’s definitely the biggest fight ever in combat sports history, and probably going to be the biggest payday ever,” he told Fox Sports. “Let’s just put it this way – all sides involved are pretty happy with their deals!”