ASSOCIATE, CALIFORNIA LAW PARTNERS, APC
Then, it happened; the two accidentally met face-to-face at a Miami Heat basketball game last January. The two prized fighters stared each other down knowing that a fight between the two would define their careers and their legacies: a fight to the finish for the two gladiators. What was it all about? Greed? Guts? Or, Glory? Intense negotiations began with the two warring camps with larger-than-life egos. However Pacquiao, caring more about making the fight itself happen than the terms of the bout contract, agreed to take second billing in the promotional materials and a lower payout. The Mayweather name is listed first, and Mayweather will walk out to the ring in the all-too-dramatic second spot. Mayweather will choose which corner of the ring is his, and Mayweather will choose which locker room at the venue he prefers. In short, Pacquiao is letting Mayweather run his own media circus and take home more bacon to ensure this fight happens.
Since the announcement made earlier this year of a signed deal between the two camps and a set date of May 2, the sports world has collectively chewed the fat over every plausible aspect of the upcoming bout. But this Saturday, the white noise of speculative chatter will stop. It's time for the two to stop the talk and walk the walk; the constant speculating in the news stream about promoter negotiations, sponsorship deals, and fighter paychecks will finally culminate with the two legends stepping into a brightly-lit boxing ring and physical action will replace the endless chatter. This Saturday, what Bob Arum and sports analysts alike have dubbed the "Superbowl of Boxing" will go down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In a battle of wills with millions of dollars on the line, this fight contract was still unsigned a mere ten days out from the fight itself. Last week, the two promotions behind the fighters found themselves in a last-minute dispute regarding contract terms about who could sign the agreement. This kind of timeline for an unsigned contract in this kind of deal is unprecedented; tickets for the fight had not gone on sale until less than ten days out from the fight. So what exactly was so vital that the two fighter's camps had to hold up ticket sales and raise a contract dispute at this eleventh hour? Specifically, Mayweather Promotions wanted to back out on its apparent promise to make Top Rank (Pacquiao's promotion) a signatory on the $400 million Mega-Fight contract. In contract law, a signatory is a person or entity that signs a document, personally or through an agent. By signing the contract, the signatory becomes a party to the contract. What does all of this mean? It means that Mayweather's camp was dragging its feet on routine matters in business contract finalization. Whether or not Top Rank, Pacquiao's promotion agent, would be a "party" to the fighters' contract is a no-brainer. From a business law perspective, asking whether Top Rank should be a signatory is like asking if the fighters will use gloves or bare fists; the answer is all-too-obvious and not something to hold up ticket sales over. However, by trying to shut out Top Rank, Mayweather Promotions attempted to assert control of the “purse” prior to the disbursement of any monies to Pacquiao’s Top Rank group.
Yet, as of April 21st, the camps of the two fighters mediated and finalized the contract, and tickets went on sale. Not that you can still buy a seat at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for this Saturday - even if you're an A-list celebrity. Because of the unprecedented demand for tickets, the promoters have told media that no free tickets or "comps" to celebrities will happen for this fight. For those of us not attending the event live, we can still watch the Pay Per View at the price of $89 for regular quality and $99 for high-definition.
For the fighters, this headlining bout is quickly becoming known for being the "richest boxing match in history." In a fight expected to bring in more than $400 million in revenue, largely from Pay Per View profits, the fighters will split approximately $300 million. Mayweather will receive the lion's share of the profits in this fight at a total of sixty percent, regardless of who wins. Manny Pacquiao will receive forty percent. Bob Arum, Manny Pacquiao's promoter, has promised to wire transfer Manny a $50 million check the very next business day after the fight. The IRS will take a humble thirty percent of this wire transfer, or about $16.6 million.
However, after all of the taxes are taken out and other deductions done, each fighter is expected to take home over $100 million dollars, nearly doubling the current record for the biggest payout to fighters from a boxing main event. HBO and Showtime, two rival networks co-producing and co-distributing the pay-per-view for the fight, have come to a rare agreement in order to logistically handle all of the money pouring in. HBO and Showtime will use a central accounting system to handle all of the money. According to Bob Arum, the central accounting system co-run by HBO and Showtime will "distribute the revenue in accordance with the contracts of the two fighters, so that there is no side money. We felt that this was the most reasonable way to go. It's the way we've done it to prevent the accusations that we usually get, that this promoter is stealing from that promoter."
While money is on the minds of many following the drama surrounding this upcoming bout, it's not on everyone's mind. True to form, when asked about how he will spend the money, Manny Pacquiao told the press, "I don't know yet...right now I'm just focusing on the fight, how I get in shape, one hundred percent."
The pre-fight contractual negotiations seem to predict what may be in the heart and soul of each fighter: Mayweather demonstrating his greed and Pacquiao, his quest for glory. No matter what happens in the ring, one thing is certain: the long-awaited fight is here with each having the guts to fight to the finish. No more talk, no more negotiations. It is simply time to listen for the first bell of the first round to ring. “Let’s get ready to rumble!”