By Ivan G. Goldman
Floyd Mayweather has already gone past that place where he must measure his love of money and adulation against the slow draining of his skills inside the ring.
That was evident long before his second bout against Marcos Maidana earlier this month, when he once again scored a victory but showed brilliance only in quick flashes separated by long pauses filled with clinching and inactivity.
If you wanted to see combinations, sustained battle, or knockout punches you’d have done better to take your chance on a four-round prelim. The main event didn’t look much like a fight anyone would want to pay $75 to see, but that was the floor price for high-def reception.
Mayweather, now 37, looks less and less like his new moniker TBE – The Best Ever – and he’s got two more fights to fulfill his six-bout contract with Showtime. The trick is to pull out two more wins without sacrificing that undefeated record to an hour glass that shows none of us mercy.
Much depends on just what language lies within that secret Showtime contract. Can he get away with fighting a couple of tomato cans? Probably not, but the network might decide it’s in its interest to feed them to him anyway. On the other hand, it might pressure him to fight someone solid and therefore salvage its own programming. Then what happens?
The Mayweather camp and Showtime, both under the spell of manager-advisor Al Haymon, disclose only what they want us to know about that signed agreement. Mostly they just tell us it’s the biggest and best contract any prizefighter ever got. But is that really something Showtime ought to brag about? It’s like saying, hey, look at me. I just paid a million bucks for a $60,000 Mercedes.
When the PPV numbers were really good, as they were against Canelo Alvarez, Showtime released a formal statement — 2.2 million viewers, the press release said, and revenue of $150 million, which was an all-time high dollar figure. But now we’re told, Showtime policy prohibits the release of specific PPV numbers. Not that they’re bad of course, but heck, you can’t fight policy.
I guarantee you that if Floyd broke 1 million buys again – or even 900,000 — there wouldn’t be any such policy.
So what we get instead is a numbers leak, and it’s filtered through the kaleidoscope lens of Yahoo boxing writer Kevin Iole, the same guy who informed us Richard Schaefer, the former CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, is “brilliant.” Now Iole tells us Mayweather-Maidana II did a very respectable 925,000 buys except that Showtime won’t say that for the record. Trust him, he says. Hmm.
Brilliant Schaefer is the guy who somehow managed not to present a fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao despite an overwhelming craving by the public and general media. Schaefer is being sued by his former employer, which apparently contends Haymon’s deal with Golden Boy was too cozy for Haymon. It’s all gone to arbitration.
None of this would matter much if Floyd were kicking butt in the ring, but as he shows his age there’s more attention paid to ancillary matters such as yet another ex-girlfriend coming forward to say (this time in a civil suit) that he liked to slap her around, twist her arm, and falsely imprison her. This particular ex-girlfriend is the one who went on Showtime to declare Floyd completely innocent of all charges pertaining to that other former girlfriend, so pay no attention to the fact that he’d pleaded guilty. Mayweather was listed as executive producer of that program.
Mayweather sidekick Leonard Ellerbe, who is now apparently an ex-sidekick, also went on that show to proclaim Mayweather’s innocence, and his sorrowful lament was presented with sad music playing in the background. Interestingly enough Mayweather told the Nevada commission in hearings today that his pre-fight reality programming is completely fake and so he should not be held accountable for what was presented as a 31-minute sparring session between two fighters in his gym.
When Showtime signed up to place Mayweather in charge of this programming and to guarantee him $32 million per fight, its point man was the network’s boxing chieftain Stephen Espinoza.Espinoza is beginning to look like the captain of the Titanic who’s enjoying a leisurely dinner at the head table moments before an iceberg ruins his digestion.
In Espinoza’s case the iceberg could be media tycoon Sumner Redstone, who counts the network as one of his principal holdings. Espinoza might get away with fudging the numbers when he talks to the media through reliable mouthpiece Iole, but if he tried it with Redstone he’d be in all sorts of trouble.
As my ex-boss Nigel Collins pointed out on ESPN.com, one of his savvy tweeters noted that Pacquiao looked better in his two fights against Timothy Bradley than Mayweather looked in his two outings against Maidana, and Bradley is a much tougher opponent than Maidana.
Mayweather, if he decides to go ahead with those last two fights, ought to take on formidable Keith Thurman and Pacquiao, though it would be acceptable to substitute quick-handed Amir Khan for Thurman. Khan has a following and is particularly deserving because Floyd played footsie with him for a year before double-crossing him and signing on to face Maidana. If fighting the best is what Showtime demands, will avaricious Team Mayweather step away from a guaranteed $64 million? Stay tuned.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here