By Jake Donovan
The staying power of Floyd Mayweather Jr. remains evident, whether or not he’s fighting.
The sport’s pound-for-pound king returns to the ring this weekend, which naturally means his name is mentioned at every turn. But when he fights is not the only time anything Mayweather-related surfaces in conversation.
Long before he announced that Robert Guerrero would be next in line, nary a discussion took place involving a fight in or around the welterweight division that didn’t include Mayweather’s name.
There was of course the Pacquiao debate, at least until the Filipino found himself sprawled out on the canvas in his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez last December. Now attention has turned to whether or not he will one day face unbeaten Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The lucrative six-fight, 30-month contract leaves plenty of time for Mayweather to answer that question. All he has to do is win Saturday night’s pay-per-view headliner at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and it’s his name that will remain first and foremost on the tip of boxing’s collective tongue.
Some look at his deal with Showtime – which he signed earlier this year after spending his entire optimal and marketing prime with HBO – as a foolish investment on the part of a network who otherwise no longer plays second fiddle to its premium cable network boxing rival. Mayweather sees the term as a deadline – not for his career, but for where he feels the sport needs to be and the role he and his promotional company plan to play.
“I only have 30 months left, so I want to just help clean the sport up,” Mayweather says of what to expect in the next 2 ½ years of a career long ago destined for the Hall of Fame.
“What I think is really, really great is that how Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions can sit down and do business-sit down and do business-and nobody worries about who's getting what and make sure that the main thing is what everybody- what Mayweather Promotions tries to focus on is letting a fighter win. It's about the fighter winning because the fighter is the talent. The fighter's the talent. The fighter's taking all the risk. So we want the fighter to win.”
When his self-named promotional outfit first formed, it appeared to be the latest in a long run of shell companies designed to eliminate the middle man between a fighter and the network for whom he toiled. But Mayweather Promotions has grown into far more than just an attachment to an event otherwise run by Golden Boy Promotions, which had been the case for his past six fights since buying out the remainder of his contract from Top Rank more than six years ago.
The company picked up its biggest non-Mayweather performed achievement when Ishe Smith won a major belt earlier this year, the first Vegas-born fighter to ever pull off the feat. Mayweather was an integral part of the promotion, lending his face rather than just his name throughout fight week.
His name is plastered all over this weekend’s event, including producer credits in contributing documentaries currently airing on Showtime and its affiliate networks.
“Like I said before, Mayweather Promotions-we've got to be a game changer,” Mayweather says of his still growing company. “We want to be positive ... together with any company that's willing to sit down and negotiate and talk and be on the same level as us because that's what it's about in business. But, it's all about the talent. My main focus is helping guys get to that next level. If we can help guys go to their next level and hopefully someday surpass me that's whatever we're trying to do.”
The continued evolution of his promotional company is merely the latest conquered challenge, after seventeen years (and counting) of doing do so in the ring. It took years to grow to this point, overcoming trials and tribulations while watching others do most of the heavy lifting.
“It's more like basically the experience, being around the fight game for so long and just being out here, just coming up with different creative ways to take your fight to the next level,” Mayweather admits. “I say the next level as far as the next level I'm always trying to do record-breaking things.”
It remains to be seen how well this weekend’s event will perform. There is a theory that both Mayweather and Pacquiao both benefited from their names being intertwined.
Despite the general belief that the two would never fight (which as of last December is most likely the case), just the slim chance of an undoubtedly all-time record breaking event taking place drove both fighters into unchartered territory. From Mayweather’s ring return in Sept. ’09 – a virtual shutout over Juan Manuel Marquez – through Pacquiao’s shocking knockout loss to Marquez last December, nine of 11 pay-per-view events featuring either fighter sold one million or more pay-per-view units.
Each of Mayweather’s four ring appearances from September 2009 onward has cracked the seven-figure buyrate, including the 1.5 million sold for last May’s 12-round points win over Miguel Cotto. Prior to this year, each of his ring appearances in the previous four years has been limited to one and done.
That is expected to change in 2013, at least if he is to properly live up to the terms of his current record-breaking contract with Showtime.
“I just want to stay active and continue to go out there to get the fans excitement,” Mayweather says when asked what’s left to accomplish in a career that has yet to show signs of winding down. “Go out there and fight. There's no specific opponent (beyond this weekend’s fight with Guerrero), because once again, I've earned my stripes a long time ago. I've proved myself a long time ago.”
This weekend marks the next step towards Mayweather Promotions proving itself as a major player in the sport. The lucrative six-figure deal secured for its star client is a huge step in the right direction.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox