WHETHER or not Floyd Mayweather fights again after beating Andre Berto on Saturday night is up for debate, but one thing is certain: his money-spinning six-fight, 30-month, contract with Showtime/CBS will have reached its end.
Mayweather has delivered fights the fans wanted in the shape of Manny Pacquiao and Saul Alvarez showdowns, but has faced criticism for the other outings. The broadcasting giants, who have shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to the now 38-year-old, will only ever say that the agreement was a success, and Mayweather’s astonishing wealth would suggest he’s been happy with the deal too.
In May 2012, Floyd appeared to be exhibiting the early signs of physical decline against Miguel Cotto in an entertaining light-middleweight tussle. Mayweather thoroughly deserved his 12-round decision win, but there were fleeting moments during the contest that seemed to prove that the Las Vegas resident may not have long left. He claimed afterwards that the entertainment, and the brief exchanges, were a consequence of wanting to please the fans. Few bought this explanation.
And then in February 2013, after a stint behind bars, he announced a six-fight, $200 million deal that changed the face of the boxing world as we know it.
ROBERT GUERRERO, May 2013
Mayweather had been out of the ring for almost a year since looking vulnerable in patches against Cotto, making some believe that Guerrero – in the form of his life after defeating Berto over 12 rounds – might have a chance. Throw in that old nonsense about Mayweather struggling with southpaws (“Hey, Zab Judah nearly knocked him OUT, man!”), and we had an intriguing contest. Perhaps that now sounds ridiculous given what transpired, but before the bout, one or two members of the media – suffering from the symptoms of Floydaphobia (a strange condition that can make Mayweather’s opponents seem unbeatable during fight week) – were picking Guerrero to win.
For that reason, the choice of Guerrero as a challenger to Floyd should not be criticised too harshly. No, it wasn’t Manny Pacquiao, but at that moment “The Ghost” was an elite fighter, and highly-regarded to boot.
What happened? Guerrero lost every minute of every round, and landed just 19 per cent of his punches, and some fans – the unappreciative who were bored out of their brains – left the MGM Grand long before the official cards were read out.
A success? Probably not the greatest advertisement for what can be the most thrilling sport in the world. But a typical exhibition from Mayweather who proved there was quite a bit of life left, and Showtime – under pressure to deliver some thrills after unofficial PPV buys of 840,000 were reported – realised they needed to find an opponent capable of bringing out the best in the old dog.
SAUL ‘CANELO’ ALVAREZ, September 2013
Those who can’t look at images of Mayweather without spitting and swearing about his shortcomings often overlook this mega-fight. It was absolutely huge, and Mayweather won at a canter against a rival many thought might beat him. Alvarez was hot property, fan friendly, and being groomed by Golden Boy Promotions to take over from Mayweather as the next superstar of boxing. The public believed that Saul would at least trouble the leader, while Floyd, nothing if not smart, knew plenty about young “Canelo”, and picked exactly the right time to take him on.
Again, going by the expectancy beforehand, one has to say Alvarez was an excellent choice of opponent. Prior to the contest, that broke all records at the MGM Grand and on PPV, everyone wanted to see it.
What happened? Mayweather turned in one of the best performances of his career and appeared to win widely. The scores were kind to Alvarez, particularly CJ Ross’ infamous 114-114 card, which was akin to handing a football team a point after they had just lost 6-0. Thankfully, the other two judges picked the right winner.
A success? Mayweather yet again, by winning so effortlessly, had failed to appear in a fight of the year contender. Floyd was brilliant, but it was largely viewed as a disappointment from those that paid to watch, but commercially, it was a roaring success as it notched 2.2m buys in the US, and generated $150m in revenue.
MARCOS MAIDANA, May 2014
With his ego and wealth inflated immeasurably by the Alvarez beatdown, Mayweather – by now a social media master – told the fans they could decide who he fights next. It was a straight fight between Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana. The British fighter gets the most votes but Mayweather chooses the Argentinian slugger anyway.
The overriding reaction was one of disappointment. Maidana had beaten Adrien Broner, but was considered no match for “Money”.
What happened? The most exciting Mayweather fight since Cotto two years before. The savage and arguably unhinged Maidana roughed up Mayweather during the first half of the contest, before losing a majority decision. Again Floyd deserved wider margins of victory but this time, unlike against Alvarez, both he and the fans knew he’d been in a fight.
A success? The manner in which he chose Maidana as an opponent was obnoxious in the extreme and did little to endear him to new fans. But the fight itself was entertaining enough, and reportedly generated 900,000 buys. Not a disaster, but short of the magic 1m.
MARCOS MAIDANA II, September 2014
Even though their first outing was better than expected, it did not warrant a rematch, particularly at this stage of Mayweather’s career. “Money” claimed it was the fight the public wanted. It wasn’t, and was perhaps the least anticipated Mayweather outing of the Showtime contract to this point.
What happened? Again, Maidana’s erratic style made life uncomfortable for Mayweather at times but, besides a moment when he got clocked at the end of the third, Floyd looked like the winner from the start. He won unanimously after 12 rounds.
A success? The fact it managed to achieve 925,000 PPV buys showed, that whoever Floyd fights, people will pay to watch. Despite beating the numbers the first fight generated, it fell a long way short of the Alvarez superfight, and likely below Showtime’s targets.
MANNY PACQUIAO, May 2015
Six years in the making. It was, without question, the sporting event of the year. Las Vegas was caught up in the hoopla of the occasion, perhaps more than ever before, and the whole world was desperate to see ‘The Fight of the Century’. Showtime and HBO teamed up to deliver a joint broadcast, Sky PPV broadcast in the UK, and a sprawling tent was erected alongside the MGM Grand to accommodate the amount of media. Showtime, and Mayweather, had delivered.
What happened? Mayweather was largely dominant bar a moment in the fourth round when Pacquiao drove him to the ropes. The thrilling spectacle never occurred. It was yet another example of Floyd’s superb ability to drain the life out of even the most threatening of foe. After 12 rounds, each one progressively less exciting than the last, Floyd was announced the winner. After that, Pacquiao – very much the hero throughout – revealed an injury to his shoulder which left a bitter taste.
A success? Raging from a financial point of view. 4.4m PPVs sold. A reported $600m notched in revenue. And let’s not forget, this was the matchup that the whole of boxing craved. From the point of view of the fans the fight was a roaring dud, but quite simply, Mayweather was masterful while Pacquiao was a disappointment.