All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they all have their exits and their entrances…
When William Shakespeare wrote that line, he had a pretty casual attitude about people coming and going, but he might have spiced it up considerably if he had ever witnessed one of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s entrances.
Mayweather’s parade to the ring on Saturday night just might be more memorable than his scheduled 12-round brawl with Marcos Maidana.
After all, Mayweather is an 11-1 betting favorite against the lightly regarded Argentinian, according to OddsShark.com. But it’s likely Mayweather will be escorted to the MGM Grand ring by company that’s far more impressive than his opponent in this battle for the WBC and WBA welterweight titles.
Mayweather’s entrances have become a main event unto themselves. This big hitter has more swagger climbing through the ropes than any baseball slugger who’s trekking to the plate. And when he marches to his workplace, his accompanying cast is sometimes worthy of center stage at the Grammys.
For last September’s bout against Saul Alvarez, Mayweather had a rapping Lil Wayne as one wingman and Justin Bieber as the other.
Justin Bieber? Indeed.
The teen heartthrob was doing a throwback imitation of Johnny Cash, clad in all black, but he still has a long way to go to fit the macho image of boxing. Or did you miss his 2011 appearance on the cover of Love magazine’s androgyny issue?
No matter where one stands on the issue of whether Mayweather has purposely ducked a fight with Manny Pacquiao, the man’s showmanship and broad appeal has to be admired. Mayweather is his own promoter, and why more fighters haven’t gone that route instead of subjecting themselves to the stewardship of Don King and Bob Arum is one of boxing’s unsolved mysteries.
By tapping into the glamorous market of those who adore Bieber and Lil Wayne, Mayweather demonstrates he has a deep understanding of the value of cross-promotion to go along with his left cross.
More importantly, Mayweather has lived up to his “Money” nickname in ways that even an oil baron would have to admire.
He had two mega-rich fights in a 12-month span in 2011-12 that grossed him $85 million and earned him the title of "World’s Highest-Paid Athlete" from Forbes. That money magazine's website also says Mayweather’s business plan gives him take-home pay that’s about double what Pacquiao gets per fight.
Forbes says that’s because Mayweather collects all of the revenue from tickets, pay-per-view and sponsorships and foots all the costs himself, including the purse for his victim, uh, opponent.
Perhaps it says something about the state of boxing that Mayweather’s promenade into the ring is one of the sport’s biggest moments these days. (Like in 2006, when he was made to look like a gladiator as he rode in on the shoulders of an Egyptian-style crew that looked like it was hauling a pharaoh. That entrance, before Mayweather fought Carlos Baldomir, starts at about the 10:55 mark of this YouTube video.)
Boxing still has its high-rolling, hardcore fanbase that loves being in Vegas on fight night, but most mainstream sports fans would be hard-pressed to get in double digits if asked to list prominent boxers.
But they do know Mayweather, in part because of his pristine 45-0 record and showmanship, and also because he knows how to keep himself in the headlines during the long lulls between fights.
One of the ways he has accomplished the latter is with lavish bets on major sporting events, the most recent of which was putting about $75,000 on underdog Connecticut to win the Final Four matchup against Florida and the NCAA championship, both of which the Huskies did.
Vegas naturally loves it when Mayweather sparks interest in being a big player at the sportsbooks, and the champ has done that even when he doesn’t lay wagers. During the week before this year’s Super Bowl, a rumor floated in Vegas that Mayweather bet $10 million on the Denver Broncos, which would have been a losing proposition of epic proportions.
After Peyton Manning’s team was hammered by the Seattle Seahawks, the record was set straight by Mayweather, who told Mashable.com: “For the record, I did NOT bet $10 million on The Broncos. As a matter of fact, I didn't bet at all. I can't control what rumors are put out there. But good or bad publicity keeps me relevant.”
So does the big entrance, like the one he made while entering the ring against Arturo Gatti in 2005. Mayweather was on a throne toted by a crew dressed as Roman centurions while Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” was piped in.
Better yet was his walk-in from 2007 to face Oscar De La Hoya. That fight took place on May 5, and Mayweather perhaps won over some of De La Hoya’s Mexican fanbase on that Cinco de Mayo date by wearing an oversized sombrero.
Whether we’ll see Bieber by Mayweather’s side on Saturday night remains to be seen. But would anyone be shocked if his place was taken instead by Beyonce, Rihanna or some other superstar?
We know something of note will happen during those five or six most ridiculously intriguing minutes of the night.
It’s like Bieber wrote in a tweet directed to Mayweather last week:
Tom Weir covered numerous championship fights as a columnist for USA Today.