After making nearly $300 million dollars for 36 minutes of work already this year, what is one to do for an encore? If you’re Floyd “Money” Mayweather the answer is simple, keep fighting and making history and the money will follow.
On Sept. 12, Mayweather, the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, will make his grand return to the ring for the first time since embarrassing Manny Pacquiao in May. Mayweather will try to match the iconic 49-0 career record of Rocky Marciano against fellow American Andre Berto in a bout where he will be putting his pound-for-pound crown on the line.
“Two decades at the top of the sport, but you know what’s most impressive? Is his work ethic,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager for Showtime Sports. “Almost 20 years of a work ethic that is unmatched in the sport of boxing. Never in his 19 years has Floyd showed up less than 100 percent prepared, 19 years of unwavering discipline. Once he got to the top, the work ethic didn’t change. That will be the legacy of Floyd in this sport, it is something I will likely never see again in my lifetime.”
Mayweather, 38, has won 12 world titles over five weight divisions and has defeated 22 world champions in his career on his way to becoming the world’s highest-paid athlete under the TV deal he signed in 2013. Unlike Pacquiao, Berto is not a future hall of famer and is looked at as B or C level fight at best in most boxing circles. With quality contenders like Amir Khan, Shawn “Showtime” Porter and my personal favorite Keith “One Time” Thurman eager and willing to get in the ring with Mayweather, why is Berto the guy to punch the million dollar ticket?
“Andre Berto is a tough competitor, a former world champion,” said Mayweather, who is 48-0. “Every time he goes out there, he gives it 100 percent. I chose Berto because he’s very exciting and is going to push Floyd Mayweather to the limit. That’s one thing I do know.”
In what Mayweather claims might be his final fight, and what is the last bout on his rich six-fight Showtime television deal, the reigning World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council champion will risk his crowns against a two-time world champion who has lost three of his past six fights. In promoting the bout, Leonard Ellerbe, president of Mayweather Promotions, wasn’t slow to mention that this might just be the last time the boxer steps into a ring.
“Come Sept. 12, this is our last opportunity to see Floyd Mayweather. I know many people doubt that, but trust me,” Ellerbe said. “This gentleman to my right, you better take a look at him, because the things he’s accomplished in this sport, you will never, ever see again.”
Many boxing experts including myself plan on the “Money” man returning to ring in May 2016 despite all the talk about retirement. Because there’s just too much Mayweather would leave on the table and that’s simply not his style. If Mayweather were to retire, he would be leaving another $100 million dollar pay day on the table and would still be in a tie with Marciano for the most career wins for a champion who retired undefeated.
One thing boxing purists know, Mayweather is all about his money and his legacy and lacing them up one more time probably will be too much to pass up. The conspiracy theorists which include me, believe this is nothing more than a ploy to milk his contract finale and to try to convince people to watch (pay for) a fight just because it is supposedly the end of Mayweather’s career – before the comeback, of course!
The MGM is building a new 20,000-seat arena on the Las Vegas Strip that is due to open in April 2016. Executives there would love nothing more than to throw a ton of money at Mayweather for him to help open the building with, say, a spring rematch against Pacquiao, which, no matter how upset the public was (and still is) about that $100-pay-per-view boondoggle in May, still generated more than $500 million. If a rematch generated half that, it would be the second-highest grossing fight ever.
All this could be a moot point if Berto were to someway somehow replicate Buster Douglas’s win over Mike Tyson – the biggest upset in boxing history, which took place 25 years ago at the Tokyo Dome.
“I bring that rare combination of speed, power and explosiveness to the table,” Berto said. “The last person he fought with that combination was Zab Judah. I’m younger, I’m hungry, and I’m strong and fast. I’m focused on what I’m coming to get.”
Despite the rare chance of that happening in the sport of the sweet science you never know what is going to happen until the gloves comes off.