Floyd Mayweather Jr., Richard Schaefer dig new Las Vegas arena

LAS VEGAS — As pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. arrived at the site of Thursday's ground breaking for a 20,000-seat arena along the Las Vegas Strip, later helping executives to shovel dirt for as part of a $375 million project, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer imagined what it would be like for the undefeated fighter to participate in one of the first major events at a venue slated for completion in the spring of 2016.
"Floyd Mayweather was invited as a surprise guest and he was there and he said that he would be honored to open up the arena. The scheduled date for opening the arena is in the spring of 2016," said Schaefer, who was on hand and is promoting a defense by Mayweather (45-0, 26 knockouts) on Saturday of his RING and WBC welterweight championships against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand on Showtime Pay-Per-View. "Imagine, though, if he was in his 50th fight? That would be incredible. Can you imagine that? I could sell out the arena today with Floyd and it's not even built yet.

Including the fight with Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs), Mayweather, who turned 37 in February, has just three fights left on a contract he has signed with Showtime, meaning he was scheduled to end his career in the fall of 2015. He already has mentioned the possibility of "walking away" after facing Maidana, although most believe that is unlikely.

Last September, Mayweather dethroned Saul Alvarez by majority decision for the RING and WBC 154-pound championships in a bout that became the highest-grossing boxing event of all time with nearly $150 million in revenue reported. Mayweather earned a career-high guaranteed purse of $41.5 million against Alvarez.

Schaefer projects Saturday's bout to produce the fourth highest gate behind Mayweather-Alvarez, Mayweather's split decision victory over Oscar De la Hoya in May 2007 and Lennox Lewis' unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield in November 1999 — all of which were in Las Vegas.

Mayweather is surely bound for the Hall of Fame, having won eight title belts over five divisions. The 37-year-old is not only the sports’ highest paid boxer but also the highest paid athlete over the past three years, having parlayed that into a successful promotional company named for him.

Mayweather will pocket a guaranteed $32 million purse against $1.5 for Maidana, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the same as he made in his unanimous decision victories over Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero in May of 2012 and May of 2013, respectively.

Mayweather's promotional company has several fighters, one of whom, Ishe Smith, briefly held the IBF's junior middleweight belt. Mayweather has been named the highest-paid American athlete for the past two years.

Should Mayweather fight on, Schaefer indicated he would be willing to work with MGM Resorts International and sports and entertainment giant AEG to pull off an event at the venue.

"I have a very close relationship with the MGM and a very close relationship with AEG and as a matter of fact, I was here in Las Vegas when they had another ground breaking on October 7 in 1991 when they were doing the ground breaking for this hotel, the MGM Grand. Now, 23 years later, we know how the MGM Grand has impacted the growth of Las Vegas and has really taken Las Vegas to a totally different level," said Schaefer.

"I think that you're going to see the same thing with the venue where they had the ground breaking today. That venue will be taking sports and entertainment to a completely different level as it is consumed here in Las Vegas from that point of view. It's a first-class venue that will managed, operated and has been built by two of the best companies in the business, the MGM Grand and AEG. So I was very honored to be there and to share my thoughts"