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Mayweather-Pacquiao fight packs an economic punch

Everything about Saturday's welterweight title bout in Las Vegas between the undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and challenger Manny Pacquiao is big, especially the money involved.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimates that the battle, for which boxing fans have been waiting for years, will have an economic impact on the region of more than $150 million, excluding gaming spending. Hotels are expected to be at 95 percent to 99 percent occupancy as fight fans fly in from around the world to watch the match.

"It's going to be a busy weekend," said authority spokesman Jeremy Handel in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch.

Revenue for the fight may hit a record $400 million, with about $200 million going to the 38-year-old Mayweather, who was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and with Pacquiao, a 36-year-old native of the Philippines, earning $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, which noted that the split was agreed to because of Mayweather's recent pay-per-view track record.


Fans who want to attend the bout, which some have likened to pugilistic classics like the 1975 "Thrilla in Manila" between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, are going to pay a pretty penny for that experience. Tickets have sold on average for $7,900, the highest price that ticket search engine Seat Geek has ever seen. That's 40 percent higher than the second-most-expensive tickets -- sold for last year's World Cup Final in Brazil.

The single most expensive ticket for Mayweather-Pacquiao fetched $17,850, another high for SeatGeek, according to company spokesman Connor Gregiore.

"Prices for the fight have come down relative to where they were before the public sale last week. The cheapest available seat right now is listed at $3,337, which is more than a $2,000 drop-off from a week ago, when you couldn't find a ticket for less than $5,385," he wrote in an email to CBSMoneyWatch. "Still, floor seats start at more than $18,000 each, and the 'least expensive' ringside seat available is priced at $336,266."

Gregoire's view was backed up by StubHub spokesman Cameron Papp, who noted that comparisons between the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and the Super Bowl have their limits because far more seats are available for the NFL's championship. Even so, StubHub estimates that the average ticket price for the fight at about $6,000, which is $2,000 more than the Super Bowl.

"This is such a unique event due to the low inventory, low arena capacity and on-sale taking place just nine days before the fight," Papp wrote. "It's essentially like holding a Super Bowl in an arena with 1/4th the normal capacity and only 5% of tickets going to the public on-sale."

Optimism rides high for pay-per-view sales. The PPV operations of Time Warner's (TWX) HBO and CBS' (CBS) Showtime, which are jointly showing the fight, are charging $89.95 to view the bout. An HD broadcast will cost $10 extra. Previous Mayweather fights cost $64.95. (CBS also is the corporate parent of MoneyWatch.)

According to one source connected with the fight, early orders to watch the telecast are soaring. "We are seeing tremendous, unprecedented numbers of early orders," the source said. "It is indicative of the fact that many of the people who are buying this event are first-time buyers for pay-per-view boxing. ... we have never tested the full capacity of the ordering system." Nonetheless, the source expects Mayweather-Pacquiao to meet or exceed the PPV sales record.

Whether all those fans get their orders processed will be known soon enough.

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