Boxing: Mayweather throws down the gauntlet to McGregor

Floyd Mayweather during the James DeGale & Badou Jack Head-to-Head Press Conference.
Floyd Mayweather during the James DeGale & Badou Jack Head-to-Head Press Conference.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Boxer Floyd Mayweather has said he will come out of retirement to fight Conor McGregor - but only if he gets paid US$100 million (S$142 million) and the Irish Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star is prepared to take a career-high US$15 million (S$21 million), plus a minor slice of the pay-per-view revenue.

Meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao, who had been hoping for a rematch with Mayweather, has agreed to defend his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) welterweight title against a little-known Queensland schoolteacher, Jeff Horn, according to reports in Australia.

It is the Mayweather-McGregor fight that would create the substantially bigger buzz, however, which says much about the state of boxing and the rise of mixed martial arts.

Regardless of the fact it would be a mismatch, it still might be the richest fight in either fighting discipline this year.

Mayweather, who retired undefeated in September 2015, has teased his fans for months with the prospect of having one more fight to match the 50-0 all-time career record of Rocky Marciano.

In an exclusive interview with ESPN, the American said: "I'm saying right here: Conor McGregor keeps telling everybody he wants the fight - let's make it happen."

"We tried to make the fight. They know what my number is. My number was a guaranteed US$100 million."

"I'm pretty sure he hasn't even made US$10 million from an MMA bout. We are willing to give him US$15 million and then we can talk about splitting the percentage, the back-end percentage on pay-per view."

"We're the A-side. How can a guy talk about US$20 million or US$30 million if he's never even made US$8 million or US$9 million (for one fight)?"

In his penultimate appearance in May 2015, Mayweather split a record US$340 million purse 60-40 with Pacquiao and boosted his take to an estimated US$300 million with his share of the pay-per-view clash.

However, the cachet of both champions has faded and Mayweather has little or no interest in a rematch. Given the reaction to a bout that inevitably disappointed after serial postponements over five years, neither is there a great hunger for it among boxing fans.

"The only thing I'm probably interested in," Mayweather said, "is the Conor McGregor fight. It makes more business sense."

McGregor, who recently acquired a boxing licence in California, has yet to respond.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'Mayweather throws down the gauntlet to McGregor'. Print Edition | Subscribe