Boxing Edition: Mayweather Pacquiao

There’s a huge event happening in Las Vegas this weekend. Floyd “Money ” Mayweather is fighting Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. This match up sees two of the best and most popular boxers of their generation fight each other. Tickets are reportedly selling for $300,000!

Among boxing fans there’s a lot of discussion about whether this is the big boxing match ever. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t. It is certainly the first mega-fight without a purpose and the first mega-fight that is a luxury brand.

In the past, whenever their was a mega fight, the fighters represented something – they transcended the sport. Joe Frazier – Max Smelling is the best example. They were fighting for their ways of life (even if they didn’t really care). But in this fight it’s just two guys fighting. One admits to adultery, alcohol and gambling abuse and is reportedly not a fan of paying taxes. The other a convicted wife-beater.

So it’s fantastic marketing that they’ve sold this as a mega fight at all. And sell it they have. But in the process the fight has come to reflect some of the curiosities of modern consumer culture:

The fighters’ fame is based on celebrity as much as their achievements or personalities.

The fans flocking to Vegas. But in most cases they are paying to not attend the fight! Instead, they’ll pay to watch it on a screen near somewhere it is happening. Much like  comedy fans who pay £100s to watch comedians on screens in Wembley Arena. Experiencing the event is more important than the event itself.

Indeed, this is a fight which is a luxury brand. It’s not important whether you are a real boxing fan who cares about the fight, access to tickets is exclusive. Celebrity counts. Those tickets that went on sale were ridiculously expensive are conspicuously consumed.

I expect those watching the fight on TV will see celebrities and rich guys cheering, with their partners spending most of the time on their phones.

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