Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor: comms has 'turbo-charged' interest in fight

The fight between boxing legend Floyd Mayweather and Irish UFC champion Conor McGregor is "drowning in hype" and the role of comms has "turbo-charged" interest, according to PR pros.

Floyd Mayweather (r) to take on Conor McGregor in Las Vegas (via @floydmayweather on Instagram)
Floyd Mayweather (r) to take on Conor McGregor in Las Vegas (via @floydmayweather on Instagram)

Mayweather, the former five-weight world champion, is coming out of retirement to face McGregor on 26 August in Las Vegas.

The bout was confirmed on social media by Mayweather (below) and McGregor last week, following months of speculation in the media about a deal being struck between the two camps.

The light-middleweight contest, considered one of the most lucrative fights in boxing history, could see each man earn as much as $100m (£78.4m), according to various reports.

The fight is 'drowning in hype'

Paddy Hobbs, head of sport at PR firm Pretty Green, told PRWeek the countdown to "the biggest sporting event of the year" was underway. "Anyone who argues differently or protests that they have no interest in watching is lying to themselves," he said.

Hobbs added: "With Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, you're drowning in hype. No two athletes on the planet get the importance of generating it more than these two do, and that's exactly why this so-called 'first ever billion-dollar fight' is going to be huge."

PR should view the bout as 'a heavenly gift'

Echoing Hobbs' remarks, Andy Sutherden, global head of sports marketing & sponsorship at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, said 'hype' was the only currency that mattered when pay-per-view has to deliver "the most lucrative fight in boxing history".

He also said PR would have a big part to play in the fight, particularly during the build up. Sutherden said: "For an industry that sometimes struggles to demonstrate ROI, the PR world has to view this fight as a heavenly gift: help generate $100m per man or it doesn't happen.

"Given the amount of publicity this fight is already getting, largely thanks to the verbal grenades being thrown back and forth by each fighter via social media, it's fair to say the role of communications has turbo-charged interest and probable pay-per-view sales."

Boxing will take a reputation dent

Meanwhile, David Fraser, founder of PR agency Ready10, said the fight would excite sports fans around the globe and would therefore excite brands.

However, he said boxing "purists" were not happy about the fight "and from a credibility point of view, boxing will take a bigger reputation dent than UFC".

"But I don't expect that will deter sports fans and brands in their enthusiasm for this fight at all," said Fraser, adding that a number of the agency's clients were looking to be "part of the conversation" around the contest.

He also said that for McGregor, agreeing to the fight was "a complete no-brainer" – commercially and reputationally. "He is expected to lose and when he wakes up the morning after the fight he should find himself considerably richer and with an enhanced reputation and brand."

Fraser added: "Similarly, it will almost certainly be a win-win for Mayweather. Providing he doesn't lose, he will not only make more money than ever before but he will also head back into retirement with a perfect 50-0 record."

Each fighter will rely on his personal brand

David Alexander, managing director at Calacus PR, said that because competitors in individual sports did not tend to have such regular incomes as, for instance, top-flight footballers, they must rely more heavily on their own personal brand.

Alexander said: "That's why they work hard, using social media in particular to promote brands and engage with fans. Mayweather has more than seven million Twitter followers and nearly 13 million fans on Facebook, and more than 15 million fans on Instagram who witness his ostentatious displays of wealth and a lifestyle most can only dream of.

"McGregor, who let's remember has had a much shorter career so far, has nearly five million Twitter followers and the same number of Facebook fans. He has nearly 14 million followers on Instagram, a huge army of celebrities and everyday fans entertained by his outlandish outfits, musical bravado, Irish wit, family and friends time, training and general braggadocio."

Alexander said that as a result, the fight needs little in the way of promotion.

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