Back in February, Floyd Mayweather’s advisor, Leonard Ellerbe, told ESPN.com that Mayweather had signed a six-fight deal with CBS/Showtime. When the monumental boxing deal was signed, many people—including myself—were a bit skeptical of Mayweather fighting six times over the next 30 months. But with his recent dominant performance versus Robert Guerrero, it doesn’t look like Mayweather is set to stop anytime soon.
A major question now is with the reported "low" number in pay-per-view sales versus Guerrero, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, will Mayweather’s star power last through his entire Showtime contract?
The answer is yes, and here's why.
In the latter part of his boxing career, Floyd Mayweather has learned how to blend his dominant skills in the ring with a must-see bad guy persona outside of it. By creating the “Money Mayweather” identity, Floyd has effectively become a bigger star than he ever would’ve been simply by being a skillful and dominant boxer.
What Mayweather has come to understand and tap into is that successful promoting can be summed up in one word—drama.
You can have all the athletic gifts in the world, but generally speaking, nice and squeaky clean images don’t sell tickets. It’s the reason boxers typically don’t smile and shake hands during the build-up to their fights.
It’s why Carl Froch said he would kill Mikkel Kessler in the ring if he had to, and it’s also why trainers like Ruben Guerrero use the press conferences to go WWE and bark for weeks on end, yet hug it out Ari Gold style once the fight is over. Pre-fight hype and drama sells.
The main point here is that no matter who Mayweather fights from today until the day he decides to retire, he will continue being the singular most marketable star in the sport of boxing—and perhaps all of sports.
For two consecutive years, Mayweather has been named No. 1 on Sports Illustrated’s Top Fortunate 50—a list that ranks the top paid athletes in the United States. And Mayweather also tops Forbes World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes list for 2012. He’s been able to do this all while not receiving a single cent from endorsements.
For as much as detractors complain about the fighters Mayweather decides to face, they still tune in and show up at his fights. Whether it’s over a million pay-per-view sales—like Showtime boss Stephen Espinoza told USA Today—or if it’s closer to the 870,000 range as ESPN’s Dan Rafael believes, the Mayweather vs. Guerrero fight still sold a large amount considering it featured an opponent who wasn’t a mainstream attraction.
The added factor is that as he gets older, people will want to tune in even more to see if Mayweather’s skills are deteriorating and if he can still back up his big mouth. If a Guerrero fight can sell, imagine how well a Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight will do?
According to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, as reported by BoxingScene.com, Mayweather still intends to fight in September and will announce his next challenger in the upcoming weeks. Possible opponents include Amir Khan—who told BoxingNews24.com that a matchup against Mayweather could be next or one fight away for him—Devon Alexander, the aforementioned Alvarez or even Lucas Matthysse.
Matthysse recently scored an impressive third-round knockout over Lamont Peterson. Following the fight, he was interviewed by Argentinean website, Ole.com/ar, and stated that if a fight with Mayweather was offered to him, he would move up in weight.
At least three of those four opponents would bring a large international following with them, which would bring more focus and sales to a bout with Mayweather. And of course I can’t forget to mention that if the stars ever were to align, a Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao bout would draw huge numbers.
Regardless, with a handful of realistic big fights still left to be made, coupled with his high-drama promotional antics, Mayweather will continue to hold his star power in boxing until his Showtime contract expires.
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