Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s pay-per-view clout will be tested on Saturday
LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. said there was no argument from him when the members of his advisory team called and proposed that he fight a rematch with Marcos Maidana.
“I said, ‘Why not?’ I know I won the first fight,” Mayweather said.
But Robert Garcia, Maidana’s trainer, thought it was a curious move.
“I thought we would get the rematch, but next year,” Garcia said. “I was surprised it was so fast, after a cut, four months later. I thought it was a little too quick. But I don’t think there were any more options for him.”
To Mayweather the rematch with Maidana makes sense. But the question is whether it will make dollars – at least the kind that Mayweather has grown accustomed to and allows him to brag about being boxing’s biggest attraction.
In an ego-driven universe where the biggest and the best are the measure of success, Mayweather-Maidana II will not even come close to generating the kind of revenue that the pound-for-pound king drew in his blockbuster matches against Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez.
Both of those matches did in excess of 2 million pay-per-view buys – Mayweather-De La Hoya set a record with 2.5 million buys and generated $136 million in revenue and Mayweather-Alvarez did 2.2 million and generated a record of $150 million, including a live-gate record for boxing in Nevada with $20 million.
The first match between Mayweather and Maidana did just under 900,000 pay-per-view buys, according to reports. And the rematch, which will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and be broadcast on Showtime Pay Per View on Saturday night, will be fortunate to attract the same number of buys. Though other boxers would flip over those numbers, don’t expect Mayweather and his reps to be beating their chests unless they happen to hit a number above 1 million buys. They still haven’t officially released the pay-per-view numbers from the first match against Maidana, though they shouted the Mayweather-Alvarez numbers from the rooftops.
There has been little buzz about the actual rematch inside the ring between Mayweather and Maidana in the week leading up to the fight. The headlines generated this week have been associated with Mayweather’s comments about former Ravens linebacker Ray Rice on Tuesday, and then Mayweather’s apology about those comments. Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and dismissed from the Ravens team on Monday after a video emerged showing him knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, inside of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino hotel. A columnist for espnW.com, ESPN’s website targeted at female sports fans, called for a boycott of the pay-per-view.
It’s not the kind of publicity the promoters and marketers for the match would have wanted, especially considering the purchasing power of women in most households that have television with pay-per-view access.
“We don’t expect that it will [impact the sales]. These are spectacular events that are very attractive to the boxing fans so we don’t expect a significant impact,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s general manager of sports and event programming.
Another poor performance on pay-per-view will put additional pressure on Showtime, which signed Mayweather to a six-fight, $250 million deal. The rematch against Maidana is the fourth fight in the agreement. Two of the three fights thus far have been underwhelming, considering Mayweather averaged 1.4 million pay-per-view buys before leaving HBO to sign his deal with Showtime a year ago.
Espinoza said a proliferation of pay-per-views this year has depressed the marketplace, which could account for some of the lower numbers for Mayweather-Maidana I. People have to make tough decisions on which pay-per-views to watch.
“The Mayweather events have held up better than most because they’re such big events and such spectacles,” he said. “With this particular event as a rematch, I’m not worried about a significant drop. I think it might actually do better than the first fight in May and that’s because we don’t have to sell the quality of the fight. The first fight speaks for itself.”
Another under-performing Mayweather pay-per-view could add to the pressure for Mayweather to make a match against Manny Pacquiao for his next fight, in May 2015. That is the only opponent that Mayweather could face that would drive his pay-per-view buys over the 2 million mark. Though Pacquiao and his promoter Bob Arum said that private negotiations for the match have been taking place, Mayweather shot down the notion.
“Not true. I can’t say what the future holds. But as for right now Arum and Pacquiao are trying to sell tickets for his fight against (Chris) Algieri,” Mayweather said. “I’m just here for the Maidana fight. If the other fight presents itself, I can’t say what can happen in the future. All the stories that you’ve heard are totally false.”
Publicly, Espinoza continues to support Mayweather bringing whatever opponent he wants to the Showtime pay-per-view dance.
“He’s outperformed from a promotional standpoint and from his visibility on the network,” Espinoza said. “The financial aspect is an absolute success. There’s not a fighter out there today that even comes close to the types of numbers that he generates.”
Of course that is true in a relative sense. As far as pay-per-view is concerned Mayweather is competing against himself. And if past Mayweather pay-per-views are any indication, then the Mayweather of 2014 doesn’t even come close to the Mayweather of 2013.
But he can certainly reach his former status in 2015, if he brings Pacquiao to the dance floor.