by Charles Jay
Floyd Mayweather could emulate what Oscar De la Hoya was able to do at HBO. The question is, will he?
Mayweather’s mega-million-dollar deal with Showtime/CBS (exact figures not disclosed) is still sending shock waves through the industry, and for good reason.
Like any media conglomerate, CBS Corporation has a lot of platforms at its disposal. There is, of course, Showtime PPV, which will be the carrier for Mayweather’s live fights on pay-per-view; Showtime, the premium channel, as well as the CBS broadcast network, which aired a Golden Boy-promoted fight last December, and CBS Sports Network, which was formerly a college sports channel but has started to carry professional sports, including minor-league hockey, the National Lacrosse League, the United Football League, U.S. Open tennis, and next up, the Arena Football League.
In other words, there is something to accommodate an event of just about any level.
Mayweather obviously had a lot of leverage with the Showtime people, or else they wouldn’t have made this deal. Do you remember what Oscar De La Hoya managed to do with the leverage he had with HBO years ago, as he was winding down his career? De La Hoya’s box office power was such that the prospect of him fighting just a few more pay-per-view bouts got him a slew of dates on the HBO premium channel, not to mention a deal with HBO Latino, that allowed him to jump-start a promotional organization that now ranks among the sport’s dominant players.
Mayweather can do something to exercise that kind of leverage. Remember that the Showtime folks are in with him and Mayweather Promotions, not Golden Boy, which acts as a “front” promoter for his bouts just because they know the drill (and reportedly picks up $1 million for their services, along with work for some of their fighters).
There would obviously be undercard slots available for fighters inked to Mayweather Promotions, not to mention dates available on Showtime “franchises” like Showtime World Championship Boxing and ShoBox. CBS didn’t do too badly with its return to live boxing, and that avenue could be open, since the company has already indicated that its network would be engaged with some of the cross-promotion of Mayweather’s fights. Then, of course, we mentioned CBS Sports Network, a cable enterprise, which could serve as a developmental ground.
There is the infrastructure available for Mayweather to sign a lot of fighters and build an organization – if he really wanted to.
Does he have the vision, or the desire, to do such a thing, as De La Hoya did?
That’s a very good question, but we can see now that Oscar was looking ahead to the day when he was not going to be an active fighter anymore. He saw an opportunity and seized upon it. He hired smart people. He found a niche and exploited it. He developed an interest in the value of the overall product, and how his organization could deliver that product.
Does Mayweather have that same kind of interest? On the surface, it would appear not. He comes off as too reckless; too user-unfriendly, if you will; perhaps too absorbed in the here-and-now to have a long-term vision for what a real organization could be. Maybe his promotional company is primarily involved in his own career, and that is pretty much the end of it.
But he can do something bigger, if he wants. It’s there for the taking.