IF ever a fighter personified what Don DeLillo once wrote about stardom – Fame requires every kind of excess – it was Floyd Mayweather. When Mayweather outpointed Andre Berto on September 12 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a lackluster farewell, he put an ellipsis (not an exclamation point) on one of the most polarizing careers in boxing history.
With the exception of Oscar De La Hoya (who peaked before the social media revolution) and Manny Pacquiao, who is,
after all, Filipino, no fighter in America has earned mainstream coverage like Mayweather has in the last decade. What makes his lurid/lucrative run over the last few years truly extraordinary is the fact that it began in the midst of The Great Recession, when disposable income had flatlined from coast to coast, along with the Dow Jones, the GDP, and the housing market.
In 2009, when Mayweather ended an 18-month hiatus by facing Juan Manuel Marquez, unemployment in the United States was hovering around 10 per cent, time-warping the nation back to the dreary early-1980s. Naturally, while millions across the country lost their homes to foreclosure or found themselves on the dole, Mayweather was parading his bottomless collection of wrist watches, luxury cars, and sneakers as often as possible. That Mayweather could sell one million pay-per-view units regularly during an economic crisis is a testament to his unique drawing power.