By Mitch Abramson
Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s dalliance with possibly fighting in New York is starting to look like more than just simple teasing.
Whereas in the past he's expressed token interest in possibly fighting in New York, now he's actually taking concrete actions to make it happen if he so chooses.
Mayweather’s request for a promoter’s license in the state was approved by the New York State Athletic Commission, setting up a scenario in which Mayweather could possibly fight in New York- an interesting turn of events to say the least.
Mayweather plans to self-promote his next bout, scheduled for Sept. 13 and for someone who’s accustomed to fighting in Las Vegas, getting a license to promote in New York will likely jump-start speculation he may fight here as well.
A spokesman for the state commission said in an Email on Thursday that Mayweather Promotions “has now been licensed” to promote in New York after submitting an application.
No date has been offered to the commission for when the company intends to stage a show, however.
As a result, Mayweather’s purpose for getting a license remains unclear- for the moment.
Attempts to reach Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, were not immediately successful.
“To request a date, the promoter would have to submit a Promoter Contest Request Form,” said state spokesman Edison Alban in an Email. “Mayweather Promotions has not yet formally submitted such a request for the September 13 date.”
Mayweather is gunning for a potential rematch against Marcos Maidana (35-3, 31 knockouts) on Sept. 13 for his next fight but has yet to formally announce a venue, leading to much conjecture he’s open to possibly going to New York, where he has never fought.
Barclays Center has emerged as a possible dark horse destination to host Mayweather’s next bout due to Barclays CEO, Brett Yormark, who has wooed Mayweather and tried to sell him on coming to Brooklyn.
While Mayweather has fought his last 11 bouts in Las Vegas, where he now lives, he has expressed a curiosity in exploring the possibility of fighting in New York. Yormark wasn’t aware of Mayweather’s plans to apply for a promoter’s license here, but he’s encouraged by the move as it shows Mayweather’s interest in coming to New York in some capacity.
“I think by going for a license he sees the value of hopefully one day fighting in New York,” Yormark said in a phone interview on Thursday. “And I think when he makes that decision at some point I feel very confident that Brooklyn will be that destination at the Barclays Center. They haven’t made any decision on Sept. 13 and hopefully we’ll receive great consideration.”
Yormark said he’s in constant contact with Mayweather’s reps and that he continues to talk to them about coming to Brooklyn, either in September or for future fights.
“From my point of view, we continue to work any and all channels in order to encourage Mayweather to come to Brooklyn,” Yormark said. “And my gut tells me at some point in time he’s going to realize it would be a great move for his career. I will patiently await the moment when he realizes this is something that he wants to do.”
But the New York-based promoter Lou DiBella thinks it’s more possible that Mayweather is getting a license to promote his own fighters instead of himself, because of the tax repercussions involved in doing business here. New York’s state income tax is 8.82%; boxers also must also contend with the city’s 4% unincorporated business tax while Nevada doesn’t charge income or business tax on fighters, according to Forbes.com. (However, Yormark has said in the past the tax issue won’t be an issue for Mayweather Jr. because of the financial package offered him to fight at Barclays.)
“It’s hard for me to believe that he’s going to fight here,” DiBella said in a phone interview. “Floyd can afford to do whatever he wants but given the tax implications in New York compared to Nevada, I’d think he’s doing it to promote his own fighters or to just keep his options open. Now, if he doesn’t care about the money and he just wants to fight here that’s something different.”
Mayweather (46-0, 26 knockouts) has said he will not work with Golden Boy Promotions now that Richard Schaefer has left the company, a situation that has led Mayweather to say he will self-promote his next bout for the first time, according to David Mayo of Mlive.com, who first reported the news of Mayweather applying for a license in New York. Madison Square Garden isn’t viewed as a possible landing spot for Mayweather since the Eagles have a scheduled concert there on Sept. 13.
“I have a bunch of fighters,” Ellerbe told Mayo of why the company sought the promoter’s license in New York. “I have to keep them busy and I have to be in the position to do their fights in a bunch of different states."
DiBella allowed that a Mayweather fight in New York would be a windfall for the business of the sport here given Mayweather’s status as the top pound-for-pound fighter.
“I would view it as a positive and I’d welcome it with open arms,” DiBella said.
Mayweather won a difficult majority decision against Maidana on May 3 in Las Vegas, leading to the rematch, though no deal has been officially announced yet.
Mayweather revealed news of the bout to face Maidana before Sunday’s BET Awards.
“Sept. 13, back to business, Marcos Maidana-Floyd Mayweather, part II,” Mayweather said on the red carpet. “And then in May, I’m fighting in May and I’ll have a big surprise for ya’ll.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.