Sarah Feldberg
Sarah Feldberg

The projections are astounding: $74 million in ticket sales, $300 million in pay-per-view buys, $10 million in sponsorship cash. Even attending the weigh-in will cost money.

The much-anticipated fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao on May 2 at the MGM Grand will almost certainly be the richest fight in boxing history and a boon to Las Vegas’ hotel, restaurants and nightclub tables.

But the fight may also raise boxing’s profile among audiences around the world and in America, where only 2% of adults who follow at least one sport claimed boxing as their favorite in the 2014 Harris Poll.

“Boxing’s the most resilient of all sports,” said Ultimate Fighting Championship Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner. “Every time they say the sport is dead, there’s always someone coming up and another big fight. The sport will always be alive.”

Ratner has a long history with boxing in Las Vegas. He joined the Nevada Athletic Commission in 1985, became its chief inspector in ’87 and executive director in 1992, before leaving in 2006 for the UFC. He’s a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame, the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao
Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao Photo Credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank

Mayweather-Pacquiao, Ratner said, “is the Super Bowl of the sport. This is not a sports-page fight, this is a front-page fight, and that changes everything. A lot of people think this is the biggest fight ever in the history of Las Vegas.”

While Ratner doesn’t expect boxing gyms around the world to suddenly fill with kids hoping to be the next “Money” or Manny, he does think ratings will grow, the attention trickling down to other upcoming fights.

“I think all the attention for Pac-Mayweather will definitely help the sport,” Ratner said.

The real winners, he added, are the MGM Grand and Las Vegas itself.

According to Bloomberg Business, seats for the fight are fetching an average of $11,922 on ticket aggregator TiqIQ, with prices as high as $67,600 for coveted ringside spots. So far, no tickets have even been released for public sale, and some are beginning to wonder if all the seats will be divided up between the casino and promoters.

Vegas.com reports that room rates at five-star hotels such as Aria and Wynn Las Vegas for the fight weekend are up $700 over average Friday or Saturday nights. Two-star hotels have seen a $200-per-night rate increase, and the announcement of the fight in February also fueled a massive booking spike on the hospitality website. The number of rooms booked for the first weekend in May leapt 954 percent from February 19 to February 20. While there are still some rooms available at the MGM itself, rates are starting at $1,600 per night for May 1 or 2.

“The attention right now on this fight is magnificent,” said Ratner, who will be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena May 2 when the fighters touch gloves and the bell rings. “They’re magnificent fighters. This is a tough sport. I’m very bullish on the future of MMA and the future of boxing.”

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