Thousands of die-hard boxing fans will converge on Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena this weekend, ponying up big money to see "The Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya battle Floyd "Pretty Boy" Mayweather in the junior middleweight bout. The fight is the most highly anticipated boxing match up in at least a decade.
And for good reason. The bout pits the ring-wise, disciplined De La Hoya -- arguably the sport's biggest draw -- against the slick, catlike Mayweather, who is widely recognized as the best pound-for-pound boxer on earth. Total fight revenue could easily surpass $100 million at a time when the sport lacks a compelling heavyweight champion and broad media coverage.
But De La Hoya holds a stake in the match that goes beyond any glory he may achieve in the ring. The veteran superstar is also the fight's promoter, meaning he'll take home not just his bout earnings, but also cuts of ticket sales, pay-per-view revenue and merchandise sales. Live gate sales alone set an all-time record for the sport, coming in at a whopping $19 million and selling out in two hours. Tickets are fetching $20,000 on eBay.
"I know how to earn a dollar," De La Hoya told Michelle Caruso-Cabrera in an interview before the fight. "I know the value of a dollar, and I'm extremely happy about that and proud."
Golden Boy Promotions Chief Executive Officer Richard Schaeffer, who was lured to the company from investment bank UBS, helped concoct a $25 million marketing plan for the fight, which has included a four-episode reality series on HBO.
The most comprehensive sponsorship plan in pay-per-view history attracted companies ranging from Bally Total Fitness and 7-Eleven to Starwood Hotels and Southwest Airlines. That's not just good news for Golden Boy Promotions, Time Warner's HBO and MGM Mirage, but for the sport of boxing itself.
As president of Golden Boy Promotions, De La Hoya's learned to take some of the hard-won lessons he's gained in the ring and apply them to his ventures in the very hard-nosed business of matchmaking fights. "Always keep your guard up," De La Hoya says. "Whether it's in the ring or in business or anything."