They say all good things come to an end, and that appears to be the case for Floyd Mayweather's empire.
Still the king of the hill, Mayweather is gradually losing his grip on his popularity. Now 37 years old as his career winds down, Money figures to reach 49-0 or 50-0 and hang up the gloves for good, but the question is not whether or not he will do so—he will through smart opponent selection.
Instead, the question has morphed into something unexpected—will anyone care?
It seems harsh, but Mayweather has done away with the good will of fans over the years by seemingly ducking a fight with Manny Pacquiao, instead booking easy opponents, hyping them to death and then routinely dismantling them, leaving audiences feeling unfulfilled.
Case in point: Saturday, after a laughably bad card that saw the best match of the night given away for free on Showtime before the pay-per-view (John Molina vs. Humberto Soto), Mayweather walloped Marcos Maidana in a rematch.
It was a rematch that nobody really cared for in the first place, although Maidana landing a few lucky shots in the first fight while throwing more than 800 punches justified its existence.
It's a badly kept secret that Mayweather's pay-per-view numbers are on the decline, and now another important area seems to be slowly losing interest: Vegas.
According to ESPN.com's David Purdum, the numbers are ugly:
William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich described the betting handle on Mayweather-Maidana II as 'horrible.' The Wynn, Westgate SuperBook, CG Technology and South Point also said the action was light.
'He's a draw, but it's not translating to the betting window,' Rood said of Mayweather.
The report goes on to note that "the rematch attracted less than 50 percent of the betting action that Mayweather's fight with Canelo Alvarez drew in September 2013."
To be 100 percent fair, some of this has to do with the sad state of the sport itself. There is no interest in comparison to other major sports. The violence, lack of a clear title structure, allegations of corruption and a downright lack of star competitors mean Mayweather has been subjected to some slim pickings as far as opponents over the years.
But the majority of the blame falls on Mayweather's shoulders.
It won't change, either. Saturday was proof of that, as the Mayweather Promotions event was downright awful, as SI.com's Chris Mannix notes:
To top it off, victory in hand, Mayweather completely avoided confrontation in the final two rounds, which only angered onlookers in attendance and those who dropped a rather large sum of money on the pay-per-view:
Now add in the fact his reputation out of the ring continues to take a hit based on a number of factors, along with silly allegations such as not tipping waitresses the night of making a cool $32 million, and it's no wonder things are degrading quickly.
Mayweather seems to understand this. Perhaps that is why he sounded more ready than ever to make a fight with Pacquiao a reality (It still won't happen, though, due to an overarching promotional rivalry.). Perhaps it is why he wants to fight in Wembley Stadium in London against Amir Khan, a move that will appeal to his fans across the pond and generate a renewed interest in his brand.
Is it too little, too late? It sure seems like it. We may see money take a backseat to legacy over the course of the next year and change as his career fades to black, but right now, Mayweather is losing while winning.
More than anything else, Mayweather has himself to thank. In-ring ability takes a fighter far, but everything else certainly plays a factor in the long run. Unlike Maidana's errant blows in the waning rounds Saturday night, Mayweather cannot outrun what seemed destined to catch up to him.