When undefeated WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. steps between the ropes on May 4 to take on challenger Robert Guerrero, it will be another in a long history of Las Vegas superfights. Just when boxing seems to be fading from the mainstream, it’s a reminder of its continuing importance here.
True, Nevada has evolved into a mixed martial arts mecca: In May, six MMA events are slated for the state, as opposed to only three boxing cards. But boxing still draws big money here. The May 5, 2007, bout at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya still holds the record for the largest-grossing event in state history, with a paid attendance of 15,432 and overall sales of $18.4 million. Fifteen fights since the late 1990s have had gross ticket sales of more than $10 million. Add to that the gaming drop from high-rolling boxing fans, and you get an idea of why Las Vegas continues to host championship fights.
By contrast, the biggest gate in Nevada MMA history was UFC 148, held last July 7, headlined by Anderson Silva’s successful title defense against Chael Sonnen. Drawing 13,600 paying fans, that bout grossed $6.9 million in sales.
Las Vegas has long styled itself the boxing capital of the world. A look at the numbers shows why the Valley’s resorts want to keep it that way.