Floyd Mayweather became the most prolific money-maker in sports history via a pay-per-view model which is in serious trouble as video pirates use technology to beat boxing promoters to the punch.
That doesn’t mean he is finished exploiting it, however.
After widespread speculation that his Sept. 12 fight would be on broadcast television, Mayweather short-circuited that idea today when he announced he would fight Andre Berto on Showtime pay-per-view.
The pound-for-pound king from Grand Rapids will fight on pay-per-view for the 14th consecutive time.
The welterweight bout is scheduled for 12 rounds at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It will be for Mayweather’s 147-pound WBC and WBA welterweight titles.
It will be the final fight in the landmark three-year, six-fight contract Mayweather signed with CBS/Showtime in 2013.
Berto (30-3, 23 knockouts) is from Winter Haven, Fla., though he represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympics. The 31-year-old former welterweight champion has lost three of his last six bouts.
Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) grossed in excess of $250 million for his May 2 win over Manny Pacquiao, a fight that shattered all boxing revenue records.
Fans paid $100, including high-definition tack-ons, for home viewing of that bout — and they did it in droves.
Even with video streaming platforms such as Twitter-held Periscope threatening the future of the pay-per-view industry, Mayweather-Pacquiao drew more than 4.4 million in domestic pay-per-view buys, and will almost double the previous record in final reckoning (2.48 million, Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya, 2007).
After that incredible success — and after 13 consecutive bouts that originated as pay-per-view telecasts — Mayweather considered trying to make his eight-figure windfall on sponsorships, via a CBS broadcast.
That idea was scrapped as Mayweather instead opted for a lower-level pay-per-view event than he typically fights, against an opponent he has considered for years, though Berto’s recent losses intervened.
Mayweather, 38, last month hinted that he either would fight Berto or Karim Mayfield. The remark largely was dismissed at the time since neither fighter has a resume that would seem to warrant a Mayweather fight.
The fight could be a career finale for Mayweather, though there is widespread speculation he could fight into 2016. Floyd Mayweather Sr., who trains his son, told MLive recently that his son indicated he wants a “couple of easy fights” to end his career.
After Mayweather stepped away from boxing in a short-lived retirement during 2008-09, Berto won the title he vacated, the World Boxing Council welterweight title.
Berto held that title until 2011, through five successful defenses, before losing it to Victor Ortiz.
Berto was 27-0 before that loss and considered a hot prospect for a potential Mayweather bout. That opportunity instead went to Ortiz, who five months later lost to Mayweather on a fourth-round knockout.
Berto won the International Boxing Federation title in his next bout but never defended it before losing to Robert Guerrero in 2012. Again, a Berto conqueror jumped straight into a Mayweather bout, with Guerrero losing on a 2013 decision in Mayweather’s first fight for CBS/Showtime.
The only knockout loss of Berto’s career followed in his next bout, a close fight that he led on the scorecards through 11 rounds before Jesus Soto Karass stopped him 48 seconds into the 12th round.
He bounced back with two wins since then, including a sixth-round stoppage of Josesito Lopez in March.
Berto was a top-flight amateur but was disqualified for a foul in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. Berto’s parents were Haitian immigrants and that nation allowed him to represent it at the Athens Olympics, where he lost in the first round.
Berto will become the sixth ex-Olympian Mayweather, a 1996 featherweight bronze medalist, has fought.
The others, with year of Olympic participation and nationality, were Carlos Gerena (1992, Puerto Rico); Victoriano Sosa (1992, Dominican Republic); Phillip Ndou (1996, South Africa); Oscar De La Hoya (1992, U.S.); and Miguel Cotto (2000, Puerto Rico).