by Charles Jay
What do you do when there’s a fight and there’s really nothing to write about it?
Well, we could say that there was some charity involved, inasmuch as anyone who gave Robert Guerrero more than one round against Floyd Mayweather was being very charitable.
Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime
Such a point was moot to some.
According to an Associated Press story, fans were actually leaving the Mayweather- Guerrero fight before the 12th round began, presumably either to get a good seat at the gaming tables, where there was more exciting action, or to get out of the parking lot before the “rush.”
That’s almost unheard of. But if you stick around long enough, you’re bound to come across just about everything.
So you see, we have already had our horizons expanded with the new Mayweather-Showtime deal.
This is not meant to be a criticism of Showtime. As has been explored under this byline before, they may have looked upon this project as a loss leader of sorts; an anchor to build an entire sports department around, in much the same way Fox Network built its overall network around sports properties like the NFL and Major League Baseball, for which they paid record prices but were willing to take the early loss because it was a great springboard to launch their other programming.
One has to wonder how they are going to feel after two or three fights like this. They should have been well aware of what they were getting into and maybe they were, to some extent. They are obviously giving Mayweather a lot of latitude when it comes to picking his opponents, which is a little different than the usual fighter-network dynamic. But by the same token, they are in the entertainment business, and many of the reviews from Saturday night indicate that people were not al that entertained.
You can’t really blame Mayweather all that much. He is simply too good for his own good, which means, for purposes of this particular discussion, he is way too good for the opponents he is picking.
So the problem the network must solve is how to get him together with people who can at least offer the illusion of having a chance, because we know that he is in this arrangement for six fights, and if things keep going the way they are, fans are not going to leave before the 12th round; they’re just not going to show up at all.
Mayweather has found himself a cash cow, and he has every intention of milking it. Next on the wish list could be Devon Alexander, who poses no real threat to him either. Then it might be a trip to England, where he’ll be able to fight anyone he cares to. Sure, everyone’s crying out for something with Canelo Alvarez, because they’ve long since stopped hoping for a fight with Manny Pacquiao.
Sometimes boxing operates in such a way (in a sense, to its great detriment) where the manner in which agendas are carried out is dictated a little less according to what the fans want, and a lot more on what can be “put over.” People who write about boxing haven’t experienced the business of boxing, and if they were able to see through that lens, they would be able to tell you that handlers of boxers (and in this instance Mayweather is his own handler) view things on a “risk vs. reward” basis.
And in this case, there was very low risk and very high reward, which is precisely the balance Mayweather would like to experience.
That’s not to say they were trying to put over some fraud against the public on Saturday. Robert Guerrero is a good fighter; he’s a very capable fighter. And he was promoted as someone who had a chance, based, in part, on the fact that he had won titles in four different weight classes.
Where that fourth weight class went, who know. Guerrero was supposed to have won an “interim” title and even defended it, but if you weren’t paying really close attention you may have gotten confused as to who the “champion” was going into the fight. Mayweather won this championship two years ago and never defended. Yet he was supposed to be the champion. What did that make Guerrero’s “title” worth?
Not to disparage Guerrero to much, but in this era of boxing you don’t get as much respect by dominating a weight division as you do by moving up in weight, and there are enough titles available to facilitate it. It used to be that winning titles in three different weight divisions actually meant something, but that is not the case anymore. Guerrero is simply a product of this atmosphere.
None of us had any place criticizing Guerrero as someone who didn’t belong in the ring if we are going to accord those belts on his mantle some genuine substance. So you may deserve some of the blame yourself if you expected something more competitive on that basis.
But you are not the problem. Neither is Guerrero. That leads us back to Mayweather. First, we take him as a “businessman.” He’d probably like to skate through this contract without any speed bumps. That is HIS business objective. And on Saturday he again reminded people that if they were forking over fifty dollars-plus to see him get beaten that’s going to be a bad investment. By the same token, businessmen should understand that ultimately, the free market rules, and if the fans (i.e., would-be PPV buyers) send a strong-enough message that they are not going to invest any more, he may then consider it good business to deliver on what folks apparently would rather see him do, which is to fight Canelo Alvarez, and maybe even Amir Khan.
Of course, as we get back to Mayweather, the boxer, the reality for those people who think one of the aforementioned names is going to teach him a long-deserved lesson is that they are most likely better off letting Mayweather milk his deal for a while and get a couple of years older and slower, because unfortunately, that is when they are going to have their best chance.
So are you going to keep buying on the way “down”?