As recently announced, boxing’s highest grossing pugilist, undefeated WBC Welterweight, and WBA light middleweight world champion, Floyd Mayweather, (43-0, 26 KOs), 35, has signed away from HBO Sports in exchange for a contractional deal that will total up to 6 fights within a 30 month span. A lot of surprise arose throughout the boxing world, as Mayweather himself use to call himself “Mr.HBO”. He’s fought all of his championship bouts, including his 2007 record breaking WBC junior middleweight championship bout against Oscar De La Hoya, on HBO Sports. It’s a testament to the marketability of Mayweather’s combined ring brilliance, along with his polarizing persona, that he could find a company to have actually outbid HBO. Is it possible that Mayweather’s inactivity, over the years, in part, has been because of undisclosed, unheard of negotiation troubles with HBO? His 6 fight deal in a timespan of two and a half years is a complete 180 from his typical, one-fight-a-year schedule, hence the previous question being putforth.
Although many believe Mayweather is slighted in his accomplishments, there are just as many who believe he’s squandered opportunities throughout the past few years. With his new deal in place, Mayweather’s chances of mixing it up with the drawing board of clamored for opponents for the superstar should increase. He’s already signed to face the toughest challenge he can take on in the welterweight division in Robert Guerrero, (31-1-1, 18 KOs), 29, on May 4th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Filipino great, Manny Pacquiao, has just suffered a knockout defeat by the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, a fighter whom Mayweather has already dealt with in dominant fashion. That leaves Guerrero as the most logical, and worthy opponent for Maywether to finally recement his claim as the world’s lineal, and true welterweight champion.
If (note, not if and when) Mayweather is to defeat Guerrero, the next fight likely to be in high demand is a showdown with the winner of May 4th’s scheduled light middleweight unificiation bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and Austin Trout. Two undefeated fighters in their primes. If Mayweather is to fulfill all six fights, some fans may find one, or two bouts that they feel aren’t a challenge to Mayweather. But as long as Floyd fights the true career-defining bouts, it’s nothing different than what many all time greats have done. One possible, disastrous problem for Mayweather however: although he is still this publication’s number one rated pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, Mayweather’s 36th birthday is this month. With him now taking on a increase in activity, will his older body be up to the task against usually younger, potentially bigger foes?
Financially, Mayweather must be set. But if it’s a contract that binds him, and practically forces him to fight on even if he changes his mind, then would an unecessary loss be worth it for the enormous paychecks he’ll be receiving? Mayweather said before fighting Sharmba Mitchell, in late 2005, that he would never let old age defeat him. He’s always been reguarded as one of boxing’s smartest fighters, if not, the smartest. Mayweather’s intentions of his newly signed deal may spell wether or not it will enhance, or blemish his legacy. If he’s doing it soley for the money, and could care less about a possible slippage in his abilities, then a Mayweather supporter may indeed have to be weary. However, if in large part it is Mayweather being driven to achieve as much greatness as he can, then it stands as a better mindset for the unbeaten Mayweather to retire unbeaten when these next 30 months pass.
As for the sport of boxing, this deal opens up so many topics for discussion. Is it good for the sport, being the most prominent of them all. HBO for some 30 odd years now has in large part been the mainstay of boxing’s biggest stars, showcasing their talents to the world. And their productions have been done beautifully, and in this site’s opinion they have set themselves apart, and are superior to other sporting companies’ productions. Though not all of them. HBO is obviously premium cable, requiring extra cost for fight fans, or anyone for that matter, to watch many of boxing’s premiere bouts. Not everybody can afford premium cable, as they can regular programming, so yes, boxing losses some of the masses. But it’s called preimum cable for a reason, and as shallow as it may seem to some, with boxing being on premium cable, it separated it from other sports.
The Showtime-CBS Sports deal is somewhat confusing, it was announced that Mayweather’s first bout will be broadcasted on Showtime Pay-Per-View. But if Mayweather were to fight on the joint compnay, CBS, free of charge, just like Monday Night Football, would it gross more economically for the sport as a whole than the recent tradition of Pay-Per-View? Mayweather would be the perfect guinea pig for this experiment as he is the sport’s most highly reguarded competitor. If Mayweather fought on regular programming, would it set a trend of fighters fleeting premium cable networks for deals with regular cable broadcasting companies? If the sport gains more of the masses, because it’s best bouts would be free of charge, does it gross more money? Yes, more will be watching, but the biggest prize fights will always be viewed by plenty, and if each viewer has to pay 50, or 60 dollars to watch, then in the end which business tactic for the sport brings forth more of a surplus in financial gain?
Is it that ultimately the Pay-Per-View route is short sighted, and that in the future as more and more possibly decide to pocket their dough, the sport’s popularlity diminishes to the point where the numbers that purchase the Pay-Per-Views are no longer what they are now? Or is it simply the evolution of the sport? Something else to note: boxing fans are extremely passionate and knowledgeable, and like any other culture that people are endeared to, the people that love it don’t want to see it comprimised by more mainstream acceptance. Some fans may be turned off in a potential shift, along the lines of “I’ve watched my prize fights on HBO for decades. I like my boxing on HBO, and I don’t care if I have to pay extra to keep it there.” However, boxing’s golden age was on regular broadcasting networks, such as ABC. Maybe it wasn’t a coincdence that the sport’s best fights being free of charge came during that time. There are a lot of questions posed that only time can answer. Floyd Mayweather is a man who has transcended his profession, and his decision may transcend himself.