Even when it was Robert Guerrero.
Even when it was Andre Berto.
Mayweather hinting he will fight again is the next thing to saying he will. That comes as no surprise despite his retirement declaration before he went to 49-0 with a lackluster and poorly received September win over Berto, nor does his declaration that a nine-figure payoff is required to get his interest.
The list of opponents capable of producing that kind of windfall for Mayweather includes a maximum of two names, neither of them Garcia’s: Manny Pacquiao, and possibly Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
That can be parsed as the next few weeks pass, and besides, Garcia is ready and presumably available. Alvarez won this weekend. Pacquiao just fought last month. If they want to make Mayweather-Garcia for September, they can do it right now.
The important thing is Mayweather’s admission that a return is possible and he is considering a specific opponent.
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of Mayweather-Pacquiao, a fight that produced buys in excess of 4.6 million at end-of-2015 reckoning, many of them rare or first-time pay-per-view buyers who left feeling fleeced. Mayweather boxed. Pacquiao followed like a yo-yo on a string, then said an ailing shoulder limited him. Buyers expected mayhem and got a dance. Caveat emptor.
Mayweather likes attention and keeping himself relevant but it is not his way to contemplate fighting publicly without eventually fighting in reality.
He is 39 years old and time is running short if fighting is on his mind, but what he said in his Showtime-televised interview, on a Mayweather Promotions card, is that he would not fight Gennady Golovkin because Golovkin weighs too much, but might consider Garcia.
That’s such a specific plan, and so completely like Mayweather’s matchmaking history, that it should be taken as much more than off-the-cuff chatter.
Mayweather tossing around the nine-figure requirement is just a way to get into quick TV clips and social-media posts. Never mind that Mayweather-Garcia does not produce a nine-figure payday, nor does Mayweather-Golovkin, nor does Mayweather against just about anyone.
Anyone except Pacquiao, with whom Mayweather grossed in excess of $200 million after pay-per-view proceeds; and perhaps Alvarez, with whom he grossed something in the range of $70 million when they fought.
Showtime has been accused of absorbing four loss leaders in Mayweather fights from 2013-15 to subsidize all but the Pacquiao and Alvarez fights.
Whether all that is true, it definitely is true that Mayweather and CBS/Showtime never have stopped talking about continued business together. Mayweather promotes Showtime-televised fights and does business with the network, and while he has been world-hopping in various vacation locales since abdicating his boxing throne, a vacation is just about all this has been until now.
Mayweather’s May-September fighting schedule the last three years required him to start gym work in March, then resume in mid-July. If he were to fight in September only this year, it would be only a 4 1/2-month longer respite than normal.
Mayweather can not like how he left things, his win over Pacquiao widely panned, his win over Berto widely ignored. The richest sports event in history came across as a bait and switch. Mayweather didn’t fight. Pacquiao was athletically incapable of forcing him.
As for the other potential Mayweather opponents who might appeal to boxing fans, that limitation is a problem in itself. Kell Brook, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter don’t move the needle much. The only time Mayweather ever fought a black opponent in a highly successful pay-per-view bout was against Shane Mosley in 2010. Brook, a Brit, might be slightly different in that regard, but pay-per-view fights sell best when the fighters are from different regions, or of different nationalities, so as to entice two different fan bases.
Pacquiao brings that element, and if the first fight could do 4.7 millionish buys domestically, the rematch would do at least half that many.
Alvarez brings that element too after he beat Khan this weekend. His 2013 majority-decision loss to Mayweather was not particularly close, even if ousted judge C.J. Ross somehow saw it a draw. His audience is enormous and he has improved since his only career loss. Those three years would help Alvarez and diminish Mayweather, and there is reason to believe it would be a much better fight now.
A potentially major factor in opponent selection would be that Mayweather adviser Al Haymon is the defendant in separate lawsuits, one filed by Golden Boy Promotions and one by Top Rank Inc., alleging monopolistic practices.
Those lawsuits did not preclude Alvarez-Khan, even though Alvarez is promoted by Golden Boy and Khan is advised by Haymon.
Whether Haymon and Top Rank, which promotes Pacquiao, could work together against the backdrop of the latter’s lawsuit could be a sticking point to Mayweather-Pacquiao II.
A lot of people might consider that a good thing.
As for Mayweather leaving the sport and clearing way for the next superstar, that also could benefit boxing in the long run, if he does nothing more than milk paydays.
It’s equally likely that a fight in September is part of a broader plan for a blockbuster of his choosing at this time next year.
In the absence of someone stepping up to fill his massive void, which no one in the sport today will or can, milking the career of Mayweather himself is a decidedly good thing for boxing.