By Ivan G. Goldman
Sports books set the opening line on Floyd Mayweather versus Marcos Maidana at minus 1200 and plus 700 respectively. Betting on Mayweather, you have to risk $1,200 just to win $100. Those are basically prohibitive odds. The casinos don’t want to book the bet so they make it stink. They prefer you wager on basketball or something less crazy.
It’s not really Mayweather’s fault that he’s so much better than Maidana or Amir Khan, who, according to Team Mayweather, was the other fighter considered for May 3. It’s by no means certain Khan would have been a more formidable opponent. Despite his claim that Floyd fears his speed, Khan couldn’t withstand the power of junior welter Danny Garcia, who finished him inside of four rounds.
Meanwhile, Floyd’s protracted hemming and hawing before finally naming his opponent set the event behind in terms of a marketing campaign. To put the scheduling in perspective, consider that the publicity tour for the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto middleweight battle on June 7 begins March 10 with press conferences and other appearances set for Puerto Rico, New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires.
Madison Square Garden ticket prices for Cotto-Martinez will range from $50 to $750. You can bet seats will be more expensive for Mayweather-Maidana, wherever it settles. Golden Boy, handling promotions for the spectacle, says the venue won’t necessarily be the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That may just be the company negotiating out loud to get a better deal from the casino or it could be sincere hesitation.
You get the feeling the publicity machinery needs to do something extraordinary to pump up interest. Fans tire of seeing what amounts to the same fight all over again – Floyd pumping in just enough shots per round to coast to an easy decision over an opponent who can’t penetrate his defense.
The last fighter to put Mayweather, 45-0 (26 KOs), off his game was relentless Cotto in May 2012. He backed him up to the ropes, landed good shots and won some rounds.
As it did before fights with Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, Canelo Alvarez, and others before them, the Mayweather machine is doing its best to make us believe that victory is terribly precarious.
“This is an extremely dangerous fight for Floyd,” Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s right-hand man, said in the initial press release. Maidana, Ellerbe added, “is a technical knock-out artist and continues to show us that he gets better with each fight. Maidana showed so much in his last performance, he’s clearly at the top of his game and a great match-up for Floyd.”
A better way for Mayweather to generate anticipation for this or any other bout would be to try to stop opponents inside the distance. He’s scored only two stoppages in his last ten outings, and one of those came by way of sucker-punching Ortiz after a time-out. Ortiz had gone berserk, trying to ram Floyd’s face into mush with the top of his head. Maidana, tough as a three-dollar steak, is 35-3 (31 KOs) and never been stopped.
Still, it’s hard to argue against success, and Mayweather, as the press release also reminded us, is the highest-paid athlete in the world and has generated more pay-per-view money than any fighter in history.
Another way to build interest would be to put the event on Showtime for no extra cost to subscribers. Sure, it would bring in less revenue, but it could stimulate phenomenal fan interest for his next fight, particularly if he were to kayo Maidana. It would essentially be the same business plan retail chains implement when they sell some items below cost in order to bring more customers into the store.
Although it’s certainly not Floyd’s fault that even at the age of 37 he remains a great fighter who will almost certainly vanquish a straight-ahead slugger like Maidana or a smallish welter with a weak chin like Khan, it is his fault when he doesn’t do what he says will do. He said he’d let fans choose his next opponent. They voted for Khan, but after keeping Khan serenading outside the window for months, Floyd chose the other guy, who – what a surprise — is, like Floyd, inside the managerial stable of manipulative manager/adviser Al Haymon.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.