Conor McGregor vs Manny Pacquiao? Sportsbooks Will Explode

A 2021 meeting between Irish UFC champion Conor McGregor and Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has been confirmed by both parties, lighting up the boxing world. What started as a rumour has now become a fight with “serious talks” in the works according to McGregor’s manager, Audie Attar, although an official deal has yet to be announced.

McGregor’s first foray into boxing was three years ago against boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather, ending in McGregor’s defeat. Despite statements that he would be retiring in June, he says that he’s ready for another go in the ring, taking to Twitter to say that he’d be “boxing Pacquiao next in the Middle East”.

Head to Head

The Mayweather vs. McGregor fight had the second highest pay-per-view buy rate in history and earned the nickname “The Money Fight” because of its immense success. Both boxers reportedly walked away with a combined $410 million, with the fight coming to a close in the tenth round.

Part of the popularity of this face-off in 2017 was the prospect of the boisterous and, at times, problematic personalities of Mayweather Jr. and McGregor finally meeting in the ring. The same can be said for Pacquiao and Conor “Notorious” McGregor, who have cultivated followings in the wake of past controversy.

One Last Fight

The only eight-division world champion, Pacquiao is the only boxer to hold world championships across four decades. He has earned his reputation as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time and continued to box even after he became Senator of the Philippines in 2016. At 41, the match against McGregor could be a historic way to end his boxing career while pocketing a decent paycheck on his way out.

A large portion of his earnings would go to coronavirus relief for the Philippines, which has been hit hard by the virus. “For the sake of all the Filipino Covid-19 victims, Senator Manny Pacquiao will be fighting UFC superstar Conor McGregor next year,” Pacquiao’s special assistant Jayke Joson said.

Back in the Ring

Since his last fight in January against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone where he won by TKO in just 40 seconds, McGregor hasn’t seen any action in the ring or the octagon. His tentative retirement announcement was short-lived, an echo of two previous retirement announcements: one in March of 2019 and one in April 2016. Then, in true Conor McGregor fashion, the MMA star was arrested in Corsica in September on suspicion of attempted sexual assault and indecent exposure in a local bar.

Although UFC’s Dana White says he’s “working on some fun stuff” for McGregor for the start of the next year, the event against Pacquiao could be a redeeming step into boxing for the volatile fighter–as long as he can stay on his best behaviour.

Big Money

Nevada sportsbook numbers in the month of “The Money Fight” were an all-time high, with an estimated $65 million wagered on the match. In the UK, Betfair, an online casino company and betting exchange, relayed a whopping $79 million traded on the fight. “This fight was a tremendous event from a gaming win perspective for not just sports wagering but also table games and slots”, said senior research analyst for Nevada Gaming Control, Michael Lawton.

Now, with a $20-33 billion increase in sportsbook market value since 2016, there’s no telling how a fight of this magnitude will affect sportsbook wagering. One thing is for sure–this is going to be the fight of the year.

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