In a boxing match that is mostly about money, the first major wager on Floyd Mayweather Jr. has surfaced in Las Vegas. It’s not a $1 million bet, but it’s close.
A bettor who asked to remain anonymous walked into the South Point sports book on Friday and put $880,000 to win $160,000 on Mayweather as a minus-550 favorite over Conor McGregor.
“We knew the Mayweather money was coming,” South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said. “It’s starting.”
Fifteen days out, all signs point to the Mayweather-McGregor showdown on the Strip breaking Nevada’s boxing wagering handle record.
It could be said the Aug. 26 fight at T-Mobile Arena is all about money. But it’s also about the circus-like hype of a never-seen-before event and the unique fascination of an undefeated boxer facing a bold, charismatic UFC superstar who’s predicting a shocking upset by knockout.
“If McGregor wins, we will be cashing tickets for 48 hours straight. It will be ridiculous,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said.
As of Friday, Rood said, MGM’s books had written 4,700 tickets on McGregor to only 186 on Mayweather. The largest bet on Mayweather is for $90,000. The largest bet on McGregor is for $50,000.
After the South Point took the $880,000 wager, sports book director Chris Andrews moved the line to minus-575, the same price currently posted at MGM Resorts.
“It’s interesting. I didn’t think we would get it at minus-550, but we were the best price on Mayweather,” Vaccaro said. “We took what I would consider a fairly big bet. We were happy the gentleman came in here.”
The large Mayweather bet helped even the South Point’s liability on the fight, Vaccaro said. Most other books are facing possible lopsided losses on McGregor.
“Our liability is quickly approaching the $2 million mark on McGregor, but I’m not too concerned at this point,” Rood said. “We have not taken anything huge. It’s slow, steady McGregor money. I think the Mayweather buyback will come in about 10 days.
“I have not seen a handle and ticket count on a fight this strong this far out, and we’ll take 90 percent of what we do in the 36 hours before the fight.”
Mayweather-McGregor is projected to top the wagering handle from the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match at MGM Grand Garden in May 2015. Mayweather danced to an uneventful win that drew a record handle of about $50 million in Nevada. Rood said MGM’s books drew a handle of more than $20 million on Mayweather-Pacquiao, while Vaccaro said the South Point did $4 million on that fight.
Rood said he considers the minus-575 price on Mayweather (49-0) to be “incredible value.” However, speculation persists the price could drop below minus-500 the week of the fight when UFC fans, the anti-Mayweather crowd and McGregor backers from Ireland converge on Vegas.
The line already represents a dramatic drop. In mid-February, the South Point opened Mayweather as a 27-1 favorite and the Westgate opened 25-1. When the megafight was finalized in mid-June, the line had dropped to minus-1,100.
“This is just the kickoff. There’s no telling where this is going to go,” Vaccaro said. “It’s not the British — the Irish are coming. We’ve never witnessed anything like this.”