Almost all year round, bring up the concept of boxing on pay-per-view to anyone, from diehard to casual to apathetic, and they will all say roughly the same thing: "It’s a con, it’s a waste of money, what’s the point, there’s plenty of entertainment out there for free or as part of a subscription."
Almost all year round.
When Floyd Mayweather Jnr steps into the ring, a huge chunk of the world collectively screams “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”
While there are a reasonable amount of world-level boxers who can still sell out arenas and even draw a quid or two on the rapidly-antiquated one-time payment system, Mayweather stands unchallenged on his own level.
American Yahoo! Sports correspondent Kevin Iole is out in Vegas for fight week and brought into perspective the money, the gates, the records that Floyd’s undefeated v undefeated, world title unification bout with Mexico’s Saul Alvarez will enjoy.
Mayweather sells out arenas to the point that big-name American celebrities and sports stars have to join the back of the line for a seat, like everybody else. He sells out arenas across the county courtesy of closed-circuit screenings. He is, literally, ‘money’.
And the sooner he finally loses a fight, the better.
Now, that’s going to sound extremely harsh, perhaps even bitter. It isn’t.
I am a huge Floyd Mayweather fan. Everything outlined above, he earned. He got to the stage he is at now by being the absolute best out there.
It’s just that boxing would be an even better attraction to the diehard, the casual and the apathetic if there were ‘two’ of him.
Confused? I’ll explain: Mayweather is at a certain ‘elite’ status now. His unblemished record, resume of huge fights and undisputed drawing power means there isn’t a hall of fame in the sport that wouldn’t induct him with maximum honours.
As a result, if he does lose a fight before he retires, it will not dent his aura that much at all. He will continue to draw whenever he pulls on the gloves and will still be regarded as a top five all-time great.
And as for the guy who does beat him? They’re made. A huge torch will be passed and the fire will be fuelled by $100 bills. A rematch, a rubber match, whatever both men did after all that: money for both and entertainment for all of us.
That guy could be ‘Canelo’ on Saturday. He has as much a chance of anyone in the division today. He’s the biggest threat to Floyd since the American’s 2007 peak, taking on Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in lucrative megafights.
But yes, it’s a big ‘if’. A HUGE ‘if’.
Mayweather hinted during the week that he and his team are very meticulous with their selection of opponents, as many fans suspected for years. His smack talk every week before a fight is worded carefully to goad the foe into fighting a certain way. The way which suits Mayweather to a tee.
Alvarez is adamant he will not fall into that trap. He cannot afford to, either. Not only will it cost him a chance at instant stardom, having had his impressive 42-0 record aged just 24 questioned for lacking top-level scalps, but quite honestly, I can see the entire fanbase being a little deflated if this ends up another comfortable 12-round cruise for Floyd.
His wins over Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero were technically-sound and raked in the cash, but they hardly inspired like Mayweather’s 2007 wars did.
And since that fight with Manny Pacquiao everyone wants to see looks to be a total non-starter, there’s a very strong chance that if Alvarez isn’t good enough to stop Mayweather, then Mr. ‘Money’ will simply glide his way to the pay window twice a year en route to an unbeaten retirement.
That’s excellent for Mayweather and his legend, of course. But then, Ronnie O’Sullivan is held in a similar regard in his own discipline, snooker. And that sport’s dying around him, too.
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter