Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes the advertised final start of his illustrious career next Saturday night against Andre Berto on Showtime pay-per-view from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t realize it was happening that soon.
The level of fan anticipation and all-over hype that usually marks a Mayweather event has been subdued this time around, and nobody has given you anything close to a good reason why you should shell out a ridiculous $64.95 (10 bucks more for HD) to see this (loosely defined) fight.
It’s just not worth your time or money.
Mayweather and his team have resembled the worst type of salesmen in their attempts to drum up some (any) interest. But they’ve come off like those old carny folk who traveled from state fair to state fair promising miracle cures for baldness or to make your wheelchair-bound aunt walk again through their own personal line to the man upstairs.
By the time you realized you’d been had, they’re already on their way to the next town one thousand miles away with a fatter wallet and more empty promises for the next group of suckers.
Mayweather had this to say as justification for facing Berto, per Edward Chaykovsky of Boxing Scene:
When you look at the two divisions I fight in, there's one man who stands all alone. I looked at the division and asked who's always in a tough exciting fight, who has quick hands and who always gives it 100 percent, it was Andre Berto.
Loser of three of his last six fights (two to vanquished Mayweather foes and one to 10-loss gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass, by knockout, no less) Berto?
Not champions Kell Brook or Timothy Bradley?
Not rising stars Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter?
Not even former junior welterweight champion (and longtime Mayweather antagonist) Amir Khan, who, last we checked, has some pretty darn fast hands of his own?
And since when does beating guys like Steve Upsher Chambers and Josesito Lopez, the latter with some controversy, even in fights that were "tough" and "exciting," earn you a shot on this level.
Andre Berto was the one man who stuck out in the welterweight division?
Good luck using that as a selling point.
Mayweather is the sport’s undisputed best fighter and top draw. In his 19 years of professional prizefighting brilliance, he’s never been beaten, seldom challenged and established box-office records that will be virtually impossible to surpass.
Vanquishing longtime rival Manny Pacquiao in boxing’s richest fight this past May was supposed to be the crown jewel, the icing on the cake of a Hall of Fame career, but the fight turned out to be a humongous disappointment.
You could’ve bottled up fan anger and sold it with the reaction to what was really a typical Mayweather fight made all the more unsettling by an opponent too injured or bereft of a game plan to provide any resistance to becoming the latest to try and fail.
That fight had a selling point, a huge one that took the better part of a decade to percolate on social media and in endless message-board arguments and debates over which pound-for-pound fighter was the superior pugilist.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was still a hugely significant and great event, even if the fight itself turned out to be a complete flop.
Floyd did his job, yes, he won easily, also yes, but there was more than a fair shred of doubt before the fight to justify the PPV sticker price of a whopping $100 in HD, which produced a record 4.4 million buys, per Showtime and HBO (via ESPN.com's Dan Rafael).
What exactly is the narrative driving Floyd vs. Berto for 75 of your hard-earned dollars on PPV?
Mike Coppinger of USA Today reported back in August that the MGM Grand installed Mayweather as a 50-1 favorite at its sportsbook when the fight was announced.
For some context, Buster Douglas, whose 1990 upset over Mike Tyson is widely considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history, was a 42-1 underdog when the two fought for the heavyweight crown in Japan.
Odds Shark shows some shrinking of the betting line on some sites, but you’d still need to lay out between $2,400-$5,000 (as of this writing) on Mayweather to win back a paltry hundred bucks.
That reflects what most in the industry know.
It'd be a major surprise if Berto remains competitive throughout the fight, and if he wins?
That would be a historic upset on par with Douglas over Tyson.
Think about that for a second.
Sure, every now and then the bolt of lightning strikes and chops down even the most overwhelming favorites.
That's why many of us watch sports in the first place.
Appalachian State goes into the Big House and shocks Michigan.
Villanova topples mighty Georgetown to win the NCAA Championship.
The Miracle on Ice.
You might throw good money after what virtually everyone (rightfully) expects to be ba, and get to be one of the few who saw the shock of our boxing generation live if Berto somehow manages to pull the colossal upset.
Or you might really buy into the sales job Mayweather and his exceptional business team put forth that this is fight No. 49, and then off into the sunset he shall ride when it’s all said and done.
But it’s far more likely that Mayweather wins without breaking a sweat and then comes right on back in the Spring for another PPV windfall (when he’ll be able to command a King’s ransom as a network free agent for the chance to go 50-0) when the MGM Grand’s new 20,000-seat arena opens.
All you’ll have is the memory and a lighter wallet when the carnival leaves town.
Kevin McRae is a member of the Boxing Writer's Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter @McRaeWrites.