LAS VEGAS -- On fight day, it was a buyer’s market. The tickets flooding the secondary market immediately after they went on sale April 23 were being sold for face value and below. And for those in town willing to play the waiting game, what had once been a pipe dream -- actually being inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao -- became a reality. Ticket brokers who had been dreaming of financial windfalls were looking to unload their inventories.
Chev Odom and his friend, Chuck Perry, drove into town from Los Angeles Friday without tickets, but hopeful they could make something happen. Hotel rates fell precipitously during fight week, and Odom said he booked two nights at the Treasure Island Hotel for $250 a night. Two hours before the first nontelevised undercard bout began, Odom and Perry were hanging around the MGM concourse looking for a deal.
“We realize that it if doesn’t come to fruition, it is what it is,” Odom said. “We’ll walk The Strip, see if people are selling.”
Two hours later, a text arrived from Odom: “2 @ 400 each.”
With the lowest face-value tickets priced at $1,500 apiece before the fight, Odom and Perry appeared to have gotten one of the day’s best bargains (assuming the former was telling the truth). The ticket-buying public, shut out nine days earlier, had the upper hand on fight night.
The scenes that played out at the MGM Grand were high-dollar cat-and-mouse games.
A man approached a broker wearing a “TMT” hat.
“How many you need?” asked the broker.
“One,” the man replied.
When the broker opened with $2,500 for an upper-level seat, the man did not hesitate to walk away. A broker attempting to unload a pair of closed-circuit tickets for $500 each also had little luck.
And that’s how it went for much of the afternoon.
The casino floor was packed with ticket brokers huddled alongside slot machines. A broker who called himself Mac said he and his colleagues obtained tickets through the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps and that the market was less robust than expected. The sheer number of tickets available, combined with the number of brokers peddling them, created competition among the sellers.
“Everybody in here is trying to make a dollar,” Mac said.
Another ticket intermediary, called Bob the Broker, bemoaned the fact people weren’t willing to spend big money. By 3:30 p.m. PDT, 30 minutes after the first undercard bout began -- a welterweight contest between Brad Solomon and Adrian Granados -- face value was a castle in the sky.
“Nobody wants to spend nothing,” Bob the Broker said. “I’m worried the market is dropping. To make a long story short, they priced the tickets too high.”
One of Bob the Broker’s colleagues mentioned in passing that the asking price for $5,000 face-value tickets had dropped to $3,500.
Meanwhile, Lully Gold of Edinburgh, Scotland, was looking for a better deal. Gold and three friends spent $520 each to watch the fight at the MGM’s TAP Sports Bar, but, since Thursday, they had been in search of tickets for seats inside the arena.
Gold said he had contacts with Mayweather’s "Money Team" who were selling tickets. According to Gold, tickets that were being offered for $5,000 apiece Thursday were $2,500 each Saturday. He said he was waiting for the price to drop to $2,000 before pulling the trigger.
For people such as Gold and Odom, a boxing match of sorts was taking place against the likes of Mac and Bob the Broker. This match even made its way to social media: In one of the oddest ticket-selling attempts of the day, pro boxer Adrien Broner tweeted the phone number of his assistant in an effort to sell four ducats during the final undercard bout. By that time, the arena was nearly full. The celebrities/high-rollers with the connections and the bargain-hunters who exercised patience were ready for the fight to begin.
Inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, 12 rounds and a promotion worth hundreds of millions of dollars led to Mayweather’s execution of a brilliant defensive game plan and a win in the defining fight of this generation by unanimous decision over Pacquiao. Mayweather could pocket $200 million in what will undoubtedly be known as the biggest moneymaker in boxing history.
It was far from thrilling inside the ring, but Mayweather and Pacquiao made their money. The ticket brokers were not as fortunate.