LAS VEGAS - Boxing trainers will tell you styles make fights, but as vice president of the MGM Resorts Race and Sports Book, Jay Rood has a different perspective. The magic ingredient that has turned Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight into the biggest moneymaker of all time is anticipation.
"If this event would have happened five years ago when everyone said these two guys should fight, it would have been a big fight, but it wouldn't have been what it is now. Not nearly," Rood said Monday. "I think the anticipation is what's really driving this event. That might have been by design. Mayweather and his team know how to manufacture money."
Pardon Rood's skepticism, but after all, his business is pure anticipation of the public appetite for sports action. When he moves the betting line, he moves money, trying to position his company to maximize the bookie's vigorish, or profit margin. Because of MGM's deal with Mayweather, Rood has seen "The Money Team," as Mayweather describes his business associates, up close and personal.
"After a while when the fight didn't happen, it was probably a strategy," Rood speculated. "Somebody in one of the camps said, 'Hey, the more we build this up, the bigger it may become.' Once Dubai started making inquiries about hosting the fight a couple of years ago, that's when the dollar figures really started going through the roof."
Pay-per-view buys for a fight with a record asking price of $99.95 are expected to go north of three million. Face value for tickets at the MGM Grand Garden Arena ranges from $1,500 to $7,500, but demand in the secondary market is driving prices into the tens of thousands.
Describing the anticipated handle at the state's legal sports books, Rood said, "My best guess is there's going to be $60 million to $80 million statewide for this fight, which is about two-thirds what we do for the Super Bowl.
"We're going to have viewing parties and we're going to have terminals there to take wagers. We've sold well over 50,000 tickets to viewing parties at all the different [MGM-owned] properties, predominantly ballrooms."
Throw in the fact that Kentucky Derby Day coincides with Fight Night, and it sets off all the bells and whistles in the Las Vegas Strip casinos like a pinball machine. "It's a cool weekend that these two things are coming together," Rood said. "If you look at American history, sports gambling is deeply rooted in horse racing and boxing."
Because the MGM always was hosting the fight, Rood had to wait until the contracts were signed to make a line out of respect to the fighters. "When this deal was signed, the line still was predominantly Mayweather -300, but I put up Mayweather -240," Rood said. "I thought the Pacquiao money was going to be stronger and was going to come in, and I didn't want to offer +$250 when I could get the same money at +200."
Now Mayweather has dropped to a -$200 favorite, meaning a bettor wagers $200 to win $100. Pacquiao is a +$170 underdog, meaning a bettor wins $170 for a $100 wager. So Rood was right that Pacquiao money would come in and that there was no need for more favorable odds.
"That's the best price these two fighters have probably ever been in their career," Rood said. "It's really the shortest price Mayweather has ever been, and you're getting Pacquiao as an underdog as a Hall of Fame boxer. So it's an absolute gem to bet if you like either one of these fighters."
The question now is whether it will be a gem of a fight or whether Mayweather's defensive style will turn it into a boring affair. "I think Pacquiao's got power to get to him," Rood said, "but if you ask me what I'm booking so that my company hopefully makes a little bit of money from a betting perspective, it's a Mayweather decision."