Contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 (o), 978-758-4664 (c) or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
LOWELL, Mass. – On the eve of what is being called the biggest fight in combat sports history, a new UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll finds that the event, a match-up between boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor, is tapping into a new generation of sports fans.
More than three-quarters of Americans call themselves sports fans, 20 percent of whom identify as avid sports fans, according to the national survey. More than a third of all adults, 38 percent, said they like boxing, MMA or both. Of those who follow these two sports, the highest percentage (39 percent for boxing and 37 percent for MMA) came from the youngest group polled, 18- to 29-year-olds. The smallest percentage of fans (13 percent for MMA and 17 percent for boxing) was among the oldest group polled, age 65 and up.
Today’s results are the first for a new polling partnership between UMass Lowell and The Washington Post that will look at Americans’ opinions on a variety of sports, the new ways they are viewing them and some of the top issues in sports.
There’s more on the line tomorrow night than just Mayweather’s 49-0 record. As many as 50 million people in the U.S. and millions more around the world will watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight, according to estimates. The bout could break the record of more than 4 million pay-per-view buys, as viewers gather Super Bowl party-style to watch one of the year’s most talked-about sporting events.
Mayweather set that record for views in 2015 when he fought boxer Manny Pacquiao and McGregor is his sport’s top draw, with a high of 1.65 million views and multiple other fights over the 1 million mark. And at $100 per view, the Mayweather-McGregor face-off could bring in more than the estimated $400 million in revenue from the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
“About a quarter of Americans are fans of boxing and about a quarter are fans of MMA, but these are not all the same people. Because the sports have developed separate followings, the potential to expand the audience for a crossover event are pretty significant: Nearly four in 10 Americans count themselves as fans of at least one of the sports,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.
In addition to the high percentage of younger fans of boxing and MMA, the poll found that both are popular among African-American and Latinos. Twenty-nine percent of African-American respondents said they are fans of both MMA and boxing, compared to 23 percent said they are fans of boxing only and 9 percent who are only MMA fans. Among Latinos polled, 26 percent are fans of both sports, 35 percent prefer boxing and 5 percent prefer MMA only.
Both sports show greater popularity among diverse sports fans. More than half of white respondents, 52 percent, identify as sports fans but said they do not like MMA or boxing, compared to 31 percent of African-American respondents and 17 percent of Latinos polled.
Results of the Washington Post-UMass Lowell poll are based on live interviews with a random sample of 1,000 American adults conducted in English and Spanish via cellular telephones and landlines Aug. 14 through Aug. 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent for all respondents. Details on methodology and additional poll data and analysis are available at www.uml.edu/polls.
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