For Floyd Mayweather to tweak a pay-per-view-weary public, and finish his CBS/Showtime contract in style, and satiate his own desire to fight a lesser bout Sept. 12 — and to grease the skids in case his 49th fight isn’t his last — a prime-time CBS broadcast checks all boxes.
Yes, free broadcast television, which Mayweather has not done since before he became a world champion in 1998.
In the slight two months since he beat Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather spent oodles on prime seats for NBA playoff games hither and yon, Pacquiao had shoulder surgery and returned to his adoring fan base in the Philippines, and they have taken verbal swipes at each other because that’s what fierce boxing rivals often do until they’re dead and gone, at which point people who weren’t alive at the time take up the debate.
Also, Mayweather blew off a sanctioning body that didn’t matter before or since he beat Pacquiao on May 2, Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Amir Khan talked nasty on the phone as the latter once again slipped to the wayside as a potential opponent, and there were a few more social-media posts of Mayweather’s six-figure winning bets.
If you go by Instagram and Twitter, Mayweather is unbeaten at the sports book, too.
What hasn’t happened is an announcement of Mayweather’s opponent for a potential career finale Sept. 12, the last fight in the three-year, six-fight contract he signed with CBS/Showtime in 2013.
Nine weeks away, CBS has not locked in a college football game for a national telecast that night, and if Mayweather’s next opponent is Karim Mayfield or Andre Berto, in a fight that would rise to pay-per-view level solely on his own star power, the preference instead may be a prime-time broadcast windfall with advertising rates which could rival that of a Super Bowl.
A few weeks ago, after promoting a fight at MGM Grand, Mayweather stood behind the arena and discussed potential opponents with reporters.
He said he most likely would select between Berto and Mayfield.
He said it in a way some might have interpreted as flippant.
But sources close to Mayweather say that Khan is back-burnered as a potential opponent, Keith Thurman will not get the fight no matter how good he looks this weekend against Luis Collazo, and Mayfield or Berto, perhaps in that sequence, actually are atop the opponents’ pool.
There will remain speculation whether this is Mayweather’s last fight. That new arena just off Las Vegas Boulevard is springing up quickly.
A broadcast fight could serve as prelude to a career finale to open that arena, perhaps a rematch with Pacquiao, but with an extra 4,000 seats to sell.
There were a lot of hurt feelings about Mayweather-Pacquiao, including a ridiculous class-action lawsuit, among people who paid $100 for a fight they didn’t like.
The fight created as many questions as it resolved, about the nature of Pacquiao’s injury, how much it really hampered him, why he fought if he considered it debilitating, and the relationship between the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Nevada State Athletic Commission in their hybrid oversight of drug-testing protocol after Pacquiao claimed he was denied a USADA-approved injection by NSAC on fight night.
And, finally, whether it really would look any different the second time — the sole hook for a rematch.
If there’s any way to get anyone to plunk down another C-note for it, those hurt feelings have to be soothed first.
The fight itself continues to generate enormous curiosity, most recently a round of stories this week that Mayweather, who announced after the fight that he would abdicate all his titles, refused to pay the $200,000 sanctioning fee for the World Boxing Organization title, a body for which he never fought previously and presumably never will again.
The WBO had far more impact on the post-mortems than the fight, when most people would have been hard-pressed to name the titles at stake.
Mayweather has run head-long with sanctioning bodies for more than a decade. The World Boxing Council in 2004-05 made him fight two 140-pound eliminators before he faced Arturo Gatti. A year later, he fought Zab Judah for the International Boxing Federation welterweight title, a fight he won easily but which was marred by a mid-ring melee, and when the IBF ordered a rematch, Mayweather abdicated. In 2010, Shane Mosley was a reigning welterweight title-holder, but Mayweather opted to fight him in a non-title welterweight bout expressly to avoid sanctioning fees.
The only importance to the WBO stripping Mayweather is that he remains far bigger than any of the sanctioning bodies, and has been for years, and $200,000 for a trinket when you already have a dozen like it is a tough sell. Oh, and it’s really difficult to make sympathetic figures of the slimy sanctioning bodies.
Amid all the negativity Mayweather-Pacquiao produced, if there is any hope of replicating the fight — or to maximize a 2016 fight against anyone, for that matter — a pay-per-view-weary public could be soothed by putting the most marketable fighter of this generation on free TV.
It would be the biggest fight on a broadcast network since Mike Tyson fought another Grand Rapids native, Buster Mathis Jr., on Fox, in December 1995.
Mayweather could make a windfall either way because CBS’ ratings would be out the roof.
While it isn’t impossible to put together a pay-per-view event in such a brief window — the fight is 64 days away, and last year’s Marcos Maidana rematch was announced 65 days out — Mayweather’s next bout will mark his briefest period between a fight announcement and the fight date since he announced his November 2004 fight against Sharmba Mitchell one month beforehand.
That fight also was noteworthy because it was on mainstream HBO, Mayweather’s most recent non-pay-per-view fight.
Whether Mayweather wants to use it as a springboard to one last fight as a television free agent next spring, or as a good-will farewell to the sport, he and CBS have the platform to give the fans one free fight from the best in the business. They would be wise to use it.