It’s no secret to anyone that Floyd Mayweather is the face of the boxing. His fights draw the most attention in not only the boxing world, but the world of sports in general. It’s not just a boxing match when Mayweather fights. It’s an event with top of the line promotions, reality shows, documentaries, and multi-city tours. A Floyd Mayweather fight is the best-selling event in the history of the sport. Every time Mayweather beats someone, it takes not even seconds after the decision is announced for the fans and media to start talking about his next fight. By the time Mayweather retires he is going to be the best selling boxer of all time, and he will be the best selling PPV boxer in history.
Every time Mayweather fights on PPV it’s likely he’s going to get close to one million buys regardless of who is opponent is. Even with conflicting reports in his fight against Guerrero in May, where Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza said the fight did 1.1 million buys, while ESPN’s Dan Rafael and Yahoo’s Kevin Iole said that it did 875,000, no matter who one chooses to believe Mayweather will likely always get close to that one million mark every time. The question though, is that good enough for Golden Boy and Showtime? Is 875k, if the belief is that, good enough? Is 1.1 million good enough?
My guess, would be that Showtime is shooting for a 1.5 million PPV number every time Floyd steps into the ring. With that said there are some things to consider in planning out Floyd Mayweather’s final four fights before he rides off into the sunset. As discussions of his next opponent mildly begin there has to be a selling point. Something that is going to give that extra push to make the “casual” boxing fans buy his fight. First, let’s define the word “casual”. The word casual would be defined by someone that doesn’t follow the sport of boxing in general, but will buy a PPV fight if it’s worth it. They’ll buy a Mayweather or Pacquiao fight. They may tune into a Miguel Cotto fight on HBO, or even some other fights here and there. Basically, they are the fans that push a PPV buy from the 800k-1 million range to the 1.5 million range. So they need to find a way to intrigue the extra buyers. Unfortunately, his style of fighting isn’t enough. His style is what “casual” fans would call boring. I’ve talked to over a dozen “casual” fans since the Canelo fight and all of them have said the same thing. They won’t buy his next fight. They say that now, but if the next opponent is someone that generates hype it’s likely that when May of 2014 rolls around they will change their mind. And with Mayweather being an active fighter the job of Showtime and Golden Boy has surprisingly become harder.
The age selling point is dead, the prison selling point is dead, and the power of the reality shows has faded because everyone knows how Mayweather acts. The one selling point that will never die though, is that people want to see someone beat him. They want to believe that his opponent can win. This makes finding his next opponent very simple, yet impossible at the same time. How do you find an opponent that the public thinks has a chance to beat a fighter that no one believes can be beaten? The questions itself doesn’t make sense.
It’s no secret that the Cold War between Top Rank and Golden Boy has pretty much blockaded any attempt to make a Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight. That fight is the only other fight other than the Canelo bout that will do over 2 million PPV buys. The other potential matchup being deterred is a Mayweather vs Bradley matchup, a fight that with Bradley’s recent win over Marquez, and with right marketing and promotion, could perhaps do 1.5 million PPV buys. And putting the PPV numbers aside, those are also the two most attractive matchups to the boxing fans, which would leak over to the interest of casual fans.
But we all know those likely won’t happen. Unfortunately, that leaves Mayweather’s next fight to be against a guy that most people think won’t stand a chance against him, and therefore a very hard sell. Amir Khan’s name has been mentioned as a front-runner, and as a boxing website that has a twitter account with over 15k followers, that fight has been scrutinized more than any other matchup out there by the fans. Fans say if Mayweather fights Khan it will be the first Mayweather fight that they will not buy since 2007. Many have claimed a boycott. Years ago the fight had interest, but being that Khan has lost twice since then, and has a reputation for getting dropped by anyone that can throw a decent punch, a fight against Mayweather has been made into a laughing stock.
Whether or not fans go through with their claims would remain to be seen come May. A fight with Khan could be big in the UK, but with many US fans claiming no interest. If the hardcore boxing fans aren’t interested their negativity will roll over to the casual boxing fans. It’s not likely a Mayweather-Khan fight ends up in the UK either. I find it hard to believe Mayweather will fight outside of Vegas let alone outside of the country. I’m also not sure how UK PPV buys work but if there is money to be made there then it might be a great option. If not then one has to wonder if Showtime and Golden Boy will take the risk of losing hundreds of thousands of US PPV buys by making a Mayweather-Khan fight. And whether one believes Espinoza, Rafeal, or Iole, the one common denominator would be that a Mayweather-Khan matchup would likely do less than even the lowest report of 875k even with a great undercard.
The reality shows don’t matter anymore, the documentaries don’t matter anymore, the multi-city tour doesn’t matter anymore. Yes they help, but only if the opponent is interesting. The selling point now is no secret. Find someone that people “believe” can beat Floyd and the fight will do 1.5 million PPV buys or higher. Guy like Sergio Martinez, Manny Pacquiao, and even Gennady Golovkin fall into that mix. Here’s the problem, all of those fighters are tied to HBO at the moment.
Golden Boy has the best junior welterweights and welterweight stable in boxing. However, they are limited when it comes to fighting Mayweather. Alexander is not a great sell, Broner won’t take the fight, Garcia isn’t popular enough yet, Matthysse is coming off a loss, and Maidana isn’t someone that people think can beat Floyd. Mayweather has already beat Judah and Malignaggi is well past his prime. The biggest problem that Showtime and Golden Boy have is that the fans don’t believe any of the above opponents can beat them and therefore the fights lack a certain interest. The fans believed in Canelo, and he had a huge Mexican fan base, which is why the number doubled the Guerrero fight. It’s highly unlikely that unless it’s Pacquiao they break that 2 million mark again. If we are just looking at Golden Boy’s fighters then Mayweather’s next opponent is going to be a very tough sell, and it may be something that they have to take a hit on to set up a big fight in September of 2014.