Gordon Gekko is Wrong
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (May 5, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in 1987's Movie: Wall Street
While the organizers of tonight’s fight between WBA junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather tell you this is the year’s most anticipated event and its host, the MGM Grand Garden Arena, is virtually sold out, there seems to be plenty of tickets floating around on the open market. In fact, whole rows are there to be had - and many below face value.
As you peruse ticket broker sites, you’ll see that tickets are available all over (http://seatgeek.com/mayweather-cotto). And this website is one I have always found to be very helpful in seeing just how well an event is doing on the secondary market (the truest indicator): http://www.tiqiq.com/Tiqiq/
Just click on the “IQ” icon on the right-hand side of the screen and it will tell you the base price of the ticket and, based on the price they are asking for, a percentage of how far above or below it’s going in market value and face value. Next to it, you’ll find a graph charting ticket prices in the last few weeks leading into the event. Remember, a fight can be “sold out” without having a single ticket really sold to the general public, as many times large chunks of them are never actually up for sale at face value from the box-office but handed straight to brokers.

So how is a fight that is so anticipated and involving one of the biggest (according to him, the biggest, bar none) attractions in all of boxing- facing perhaps the third best-selling fighter (at the gate and on pay-per-view)- struggling to move tickets?
Simple, they may have simply overvalued their promotion.
Ringside seats were priced at $1,500 (which for any fight not involving both Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the ring at the same time is exorbitant) and the second highest price point was $1,250. Uh, what did Gordon Gekko of “Wall Street” once famously say about greed? Well, that certainly isn’t the case in this instance. It seems that even the MGM Grand is having problems selling seats at face value to this fight: http://i49.tinypic.com/73o5fk.png
(In a side note, just because you’re on the lower bowl doesn’t mean you’re “ringside.” There should be some truth in advertising- especially at those prices.)
And as tickets went on sale a couple of months ago, you heard the same frustrations from boxing fans who wanted to attend this event live- they simply couldn’t get the tickets they coveted. As usual, many of the best tickets (in every section, no less) were pulled straight from the box-office, given straight to the brokers/scalpers on consignment and then jacked up in price. I’ve written about this issue in the past and perhaps the once-gullible public is no longer willing to play this game, so often stacked against them.
Or maybe there’s a few other factors at play:
-  Perhaps both Mayweather and Pacquiao are now feeling the public’s growing impatience of their avoidance of each other. Regardless of who’s to blame, they are both now starting to feel the effect that, maybe until they finally get into the ring with each other, there will be dwindling support for both franchises in their respective fights. It will be interesting to see how ticket prices fluctuate closer to June 9th when the “Pac-Man” faces Tim Bradley in the same building.
-  The Puerto Ricans are certainly a passionate base of boxing fans but, geographically, New York (where Cotto has been a consistently large draw) is a much longer, inconvenient and expensive flight to Las Vegas. I’m told it’s right around a thousand bucks for a round-trip airline ticket- and that’s before a hotel room for the weekend (which will have elevated rates), food and other miscellaneous costs (which, being in “Sin City” can be…well, use your imagination). And we’ve already mentioned the ticket prices. Make no doubt about it; if this promotion was held at Madison Square Garden, the secondary market for tickets would be robust.
-  It’s no secret there are certain sections the general public will never get access to- no matter what they are willing to dole out. And it’s well-known that, in the past, Mayweather’s adviser, Al Haymon, gets his own block of tickets that he sells through brokers in his own lucrative side business. But there were also other resorts on the strip that made purchases on large numbers of tickets for their players. That isn’t nearly as prevalent nowadays. I’ve also been told that the other casinos on the strip (which like to buy a good amount of tickets to these kinds of fights for their “whales”) are simply unwilling to purchase bad seats, risking the ire of patrons who spend $50,000 a hand at poker.
Casino buys are a large part of any successful Vegas promotion (Anyone remember the 1999 bout between Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya when almost every seat inside the house at the Mandalay Bay was bought up by the casinos?). When they aren’t there, a huge void remains. Wanna know why most crowds for major boxing matches are so late to arrive? Well, those are your casino comps. You can always tell who really purchased their tickets just by what time they are in their seats.
-  Empty seats aren’t a rarity at Mayweather fights but the pattern has been that while he may not do as well as Pacquiao in terms of tickets sold, he does better on pay-per-view. And you can do the math; while you can draw 16,500 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather has consistently done over a million pay-per-view buys at around 60 bucks a pop. Pay-per-view is where the real money is, in this instance.
-  And finally, there’s this factor: the economy. Need I elaborate?
As for the crowd on Saturday night, there will still be a sizable one, regardless. The guess here is that Mayweather Promotions will merely “paper the house” by paying the state taxes on some tickets and giving them out to various individuals. As long as that tariff is paid on a ticket, the full value of the tickets is listed on the gate report. The bottom line is that this is the price for holding up the perception that Mayweather is the sport’s biggest draw.
You have to wonder, if they just would’ve priced the tickets more reasonably and given the fans a legitimate chance to purchase them, would all this even be necessary?
I know I talk about this subject ad nauseam (hey, indulge me; some guys want to talk pound-for-pound ratings all the time. This is my pet issue since I believe it’s actually much more important) but for boxing to have a future- and I think it does- it has to become more affordable and accessible to the general public across the board.
This is why I’m such a big proponent of spreading fights around to non-casino venues in large metropolitan cities across the country. Usually, the ticket prices are much more in line with reality because there are no casino comps to be had. It’s been shown in places like Washington D.C. (where Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan played to a sold-out crowd) and San Antonio (where Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. did over a million-dollar gate for his fight against Marco Antonio Rubio) that if you put the appropriate fight in the correct market, pricing it reasonably, there is an actual audience that will show up.
Boxing cannot survive only catering to the one percent.
I highly recommend reading this submission to Maxboxing from Martin Wade on his thoughts on the HBO special featuring Floyd Mayweather and Michael Eric Dyson: What We Learned from “Mayweather Speaks Out” - By Martin Wade
Some would say that HBO now covers Mayweather the way Fox News reports on the Republican party but, to me, what I found the most head-scratching and odd about that interview was how when Mayweather talked about his rough, impoverished upbringing as a high schooler, he never mentioned Don Hale or his family. They basically took him in and treated him as one of their own, housing, feeding and clothing him for three full years while his own parents were persona non grata in his life. But maybe, Hale being a white man, that didn’t fit this show’s narrative or purpose.
What happened to “keepin’ it real”?
I asked Yvon Michel why he was able to cut a deal this time around for a bout between Jean Pascal and IBF light heavyweight champion, Tavoris Cloud, and he told me that Don King went from demanding three options on his guy to just one. Therefore, a deal was made for them to meet on August 11th in either Montreal or Quebec City...It’s ironic that many of those who proclaim to be part of the “Money Team” don’t have the money to get to Mayweather’s fight...Long live Junior Seau. Like everyone else, I was saddened to hear of his death. My first memories of him were at USC where he played alongside the likes of Mark Carrier, Tim Ryan, Dan Owens, Scott Ross, Cleveland Colter and Chris Hale on some very good Trojans defenses. Then, in San Diego, what Tony Gwynn was to the Padres, Seau was to the Chargers franchise in the ‘90s...Larry Merchant has said many times that athletes go through two deaths in their lives, one as an athlete and the other when they finally pass, the former being the more difficult to handle. I wonder if that was the case for Seau...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.
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