By Steve Kim: On early Wednesday evening, Floyd Mayweather sent out an announcement on his Twitter feed (@FloydMayweather) that he had chosen his next foe, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and that this eagerly anticipated match-up would take place September 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Just like that, it was done. No drawn out negotiations, no public posturing or back-and-forthing between the two parties. None of the usual machinations so associated with the boxing business took place here.
The biggest and most lucrative fight in all of boxing that can be made today is a reality.
The early odds have Mayweather a three-to-one favorite over the redhead from Mexico but make no mistake about it; this is the bout the public yearned for. It can be argued that this fight really came together on the nights of April 20th and May 4th.
It was at the Alamodome in San Antonio where “Canelo” played to a full house of nearly 40,000 (drawing an impressive $2.7 million gate in a non-casino setting) and defeated Austin Trout to unify the junior middleweight titles. Alvarez didn’t just prove himself as a legitimate fighter; he firmly established himself as a marquee attraction in the States. This after essentially moving himself off the “May Day” undercard when he couldn’t get an assurance that he would be in the “Money” in the fall.
A couple of weeks later, Mayweather, kicking off his brand new CBS/Showtime pact, easily outpointed Robert Guerrero over 12 rounds, flashing his usual sterling form. However, the results at the box-office weren’t up to the usual standards. Tickets on the secondary market took a dive and, more alarmingly, the pay-per-view figures weren’t up to snuff. If you tend to believe those in the industry that Mayweather vs. Guerrero garnered “only” between 850,000 to 900,000 buys, then this was an economic disaster for Showtime.
On the surface, the numbers themselves weren’t bad but when you’re doling out $32.5 million to one of the participants (the listed purse for Mayweather on the Nevada State Athletic Commission report), then you have a problem. Doing the number of pay-per-view purchases it reportedly did, Mayweather-Guerrero is akin to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox winning “just” 90 games. Maybe that flies in San Diego or Kansas City but with those teams’ payrolls and expectations, those types of results get people on the hot seat.
It was proven again that even Mayweather - like every other pay-per-view franchise - still needed a strong B-side, a dance partner the public would recognize. Guerrero, a pretty good fighter, simply wasn’t that guy. Unlike a Miguel Cotto or Ricky Hatton, he didn’t bring a sizable fan-base of his own. Alvarez brings a huge Mexican following that will flock to see him on both sides of the border. At the very least, “Canelo” ensures at least several hundred-thousand more pay-per-view purchases than Guerrero.
Showtime/CBS didn’t get into the Mayweather business to lose millions of dollars with each promotion. This is exactly what they were looking at if future foes included the likes of Amir Khan, Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse, all of whom have solid professional credentials but wouldn’t move the needle from a pay-per-view perspective.
Ask yourself this question: If Mayweather-Guerrero garnered 1.2 million buys (which is in the neighborhood of his other pay-per-view totals), do you really think there would’ve been the same impetus to make Mayweather-Alvarez so quickly? This corporation probably didn’t just want this fight. There’s a good chance they absolutely demanded it and the parties involved, from Mayweather’s adviser Al Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer - who were jettisoned from HBO - needed to deliver this fight, lest their other clients have no network to ply their trade.
And Golden Boy, sensing Alvarez’s increasing impatience, needed to deliver this fight for their brightest young star. Does his talent equal his level of precociousness? I guess we’ll find out in September but at the age of 22, this young man isn’t afraid to dream big. You could argue he’s too young to know any better.
As for Floyd? Well, you could argue that he made a business decision. More than any boxer in recent history, Mayweather understands the bottom line. He could fight the usual suspects and keep collecting $32.5 million but without any of the accompanying upside he has been accustomed to. Yeah, poor Mayweather, having to settle for just his guaranteed purse. But hey, it’s human nature to always want a bit more or at least get what you’ve had in the past. What Alvarez represents to Mayweather is that “upside.” The chance to earn between $40 to $50 million came with a strong sprinkling of cinnamon - and nothing else.
It’s a mild upset to industry insiders - who had their doubts that Mayweather would actually fight twice in a four-month period (something he has not done in over a decade) - that is he making this appointment. But now that he’s scheduled to perform on September 14th, you get the sense he will actually fulfill the remainder of his deal with Showtime. To put it simply, to nourish his lavish and decadent lifestyle - and a gambling habit that would make Jimmy “The Greek” blush - he really has no choice but to box continuously for the next few years.
Yeah, as Patrick Ewing might say, Mayweather makes a lot of money but he also spends (and bets) a whole lot of money.
And you know what? Love him or loathe him, more Mayweather is a good thing for the business of boxing. Because when he’s out there, boxing becomes front page news and national outlets talk about the “Sweet Science” (imagine that. It’s not a dead sport nor is it being taken over by the UFC after all!). It’s why outlets like ESPN were devoting a pretty good amount of time to boxing on Thursday and why an internet scribe like me was a guest on a national radio program like The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio.
All this for a match-up that is four months away.
Mayweather-Alvarez is the fight the fans wanted.
It’s the fight everyone involved needed.
Don’t know if this is any real indicator but as news spread like wildfire that Mayweather-Alvarez was consummated, Twitter went crazy. As a boxing writer, the most active period for my timeline in terms of feedback, retweets, favorites, etc. is during a big fight.
But Wednesday night was something else. I can’t imagine anything else was talked about as much as this subject on this particular social platform.
As I mentioned earlier, programs that usually ignore boxing as if it were the WNBA were talking about boxing, which isn’t completely unusual. When Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao fight, boxing is relevant and discussed - but not fights that won’t take place for a few months.
Many are projecting this fight to challenge the all-time pay-per-view mark of 2.4 million buys set when Oscar De la Hoya faced Mayweather in 2007. OK, my early prediction is this promotion will do between 1.75 and 2 million purchases. Yeah, Alvarez is extremely popular but I think many fans are forgetting just how big Oscar was at that point. “Canelo” is popular but he isn’t Oscar-popular yet. By the time Mayweather vs. De la Hoya took place, ’the Golden Boy” was firmly entrenched as the biggest pay-per-view draw in the history of the sport.
Mayweather-Alvarez is big but I’m not sure we’ll ever see another night quite like May 5th, 2007.
OK, lets get this out of the way; is Floyd a hypocrite for getting a catchweight for this fight given what he has said in the past about Manny Pacquiao and wanting to face guys like Miguel Cotto where they are “most comfortable.” Of course he is.
But catchweights have been a part of boxing for a long time (look it up) and are here to stay.
Will Alvarez be affected by having a weight limit of 152? Who knows? But I get the sense that given this kid’s chutzpah, unless he and his team felt they couldn’t perform well at that number, they wouldn’t have agreed to it. And according to Richard Schaefer, there is no cap on what Alvarez can weigh the night of the fight.
So you could argue that both sides have made significant concessions here.
Malik Scott will face Dereck Chisora at Wembley Arena in London on July 20th...The Lucas Matthysse-Lamont Peterson fight on Showtime a few weeks ago had an average of 472,800 viewers and peaked at 614,000...This past weekend’s rematch between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler did a peak of 493,000 viewers in the afternoon and the rebroadcast later that night had 577,000...The Bovada (@bovada.lv) has Mayweather at -280 over Alvarez...September 14th is gonna be a big one for Showtime and CBS. They have ‘Bama versus Texas A&M in the afternoon and then Mayweather-Alvarez...By the way, Danny Garcia is going to face “The Machine” on September 7th, right?....Please tell me shorts and sandals weather has returned for good in Southern California...
May 30, 2013