Leonard Ellerbe vows 'tremendous undercard' for Mayweather-McGregor show

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Floyd Mayweather (R) speaks to Badou Jack at a New York news conference. Jack may appear on the Aug. 26 Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard. (Getty Images)

Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, has yet to even begin assembling the undercard for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor show on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.

The show has the potential to be the biggest in history, which right now is the May 2, 2015, card headlined by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. That show set every financial record imaginable, including for highest gross revenue (more than $600 million); highest paid gate ($72 million) and most pay-per-views sold (4.6 million).

But the one thing that was most definitely not memorable about that night was the pay-per-view undercard. Promoters put on two blowout fights, featuring Vasyl Lomachenko against Gamalier Rodriguez and Leo Santa Cruz versus Jose Cayetano.

The favorites – Lomachenko and Santa Cruz – each won easily and neither bout was remotely competitive. Neither bout deserved to be on the pay-per-view undercard of a show of such a magnitude.

Already there has been speculation that heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua as well as Mayweather Promotions staples Badou Jack, J’Leon Love and/or Gervonta Davis will fill out the undercard.

Not so, said Ellerbe. At least, as of yet.

“I’m just getting ready to start working on it,” Ellerbe told Yahoo Sports. “Anything you may have seen or heard, that’s just speculation and nothing more, because I haven’t done a thing.”

There figure to be three slots on the undercard, which is usually how it is done on boxing pay-per-views. It would be highly entertaining if Joshua were on, but there is almost no chance of that.

But the promotion wants to find decent, television-friendly fights. It would make sense that at least one of the slots will be filled by a Mayweather Promotions fighter, perhaps two.

It would also make sense to include an Irish fighter on the undercard, as an inducement for McGregor’s fans.

But let’s start with Badou Jack, probably the most prominent name on Mayweather Promotions’ roster.

If Ellerbe could somehow find a way to get the WBC to sanction a bout between Jack and Adonis Stevenson for the light heavyweight title, he’d have a home run. Jack is ranked fourth in the division and a Stevenson-Jack fight figures to be incredibly entertaining.

Stevenson is managed by Al Haymon, and Haymon is Mayweather’s advisor, so there won’t be any promotional issues. Stevenson hasn’t made a mandatory defense in a long time, and that could be problematic, but WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman isn’t involved in this event yet and you can be certain he wants to be. This would be a way of accomplishing that while also providing boxing fans with a quality match.

Andy Lee (R) throws a punch at Peter Quillin on April 11, 2015, in their middleweight title fight. (Getty Images)

Middleweight Andy Lee, a former Irish Olympian, would make sense on the undercard in a bout against a contender. He fought a highly entertaining bout with Peter Quillin on April 11, 2015, and a rematch wouldn’t be out of the order. Lee would satisfy a goal of having an Irishman and since Quillin is from Grand Rapids, Mich., where Mayweather was born and raised, there is a connection there.

And Davis is a rising star who could use the spotlight that a Mayweather-McGregor show would bring.

Regardless of who makes it, Ellerbe is talking big. And while he’s a promoter and promoters promote, he sounds dead serious.

“I guarantee you I’m not looking to put on high-level mismatches,” Ellerbe said. “I can promise you this will be a tremendous undercard. We’re going to put real, competitive, good fights on there. I can’t say this enough: It’s going to be a tremendous undercard.”

Asked if the bouts he adds would be considered Showtime main event or co-main event status, he said, “Yes. Absolutely.”

If that turns out to be the truth, boxing fans might have something to look forward to on Aug. 26 rather than just seeing Mayweather run roughshod over someone making his pro debut in boxing.