SEVEN31

Life as I know it...

Floyd Mayweather's Next Opponent Will Be....

18 days ago, Floyd Mayweather (aka 'Money') announced that he will indeed fight again on September 13, 2014. This would be consistent with his 2013 schedule where he fought in May (Robert Guerrero) and September (Canelo Alvarez).  However, Mayweather did not announce his future opponent and since then there have been a number of names thrown into the mix to be the 47th opponent for boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter. Here are a few names that are getting airtime:

Amir Khan

Amir "King" Khan raising his hand in victory - his eyes have long been on a showdown with Mayweather.

Khan believed he was going to get the May fight with Mayweather, and actually passed up a big fight with Devon Alexander in anticipation of the mega-fight. Unfortunately for Khan, Marcos Maidana's destruction of Adrien Broner (an undefeated champion and self-proclaimed heir to Mayweather's throne) combined with a strong Argentinian fan following made Maidana a much more desirable fight.  Khan actually fought on the undercard of the May 3rd Mayweather - Maidana card and thoroughly dominated Luis Collazo.  The issue with Khan getting the September 13th fight with Mayweather is his need to fast for Ramadan.  Boxers, especially at this level, need to be in tip-top physical shape in the months leading up to the fight (unless you're Ricky Hatton). Khan does enjoy a very loyal and strong British following, although probably not to-the-extent of Ricky Hatton, and many believe his speed and overall 'boxing' talent could give Mayweather problems. And let's not forget, Khan survived a very tough fight against Marcos Maidana to score a victory. But, he's also suffered two brutal knockouts. In the end, the Ramadan issue likely takes Khan out-of-the-running for the September 13th Mayweather fight.

Marcos Maidana

Maidana landing a huge blow on the face of Adrien Broner. Maidana's victory over Broner (aka 'little Floyd') set up his May-2014 brawl with Mayweather.

The fight that a lot of people want to see is the one they just saw - a rematch between Mayweather and Maidana. After the fight, there was much talk about a rematch, especially given the general perception that Maidana came the closest to dethroning Mayweather since Jose Luis Castillo in April-2002 (a controversial unanimous decision that many believed Castillo had won). A rematch with Maidana was looking promising up until the Pay-Per-View (PPV) numbers were finally confirmed for the May 3rd fight. The fight proved to be a huge disappointment coming in right around 900,000 buys. 900,000 PPV buys would be dazzling for nearly any other prize fighter, but for Mayweather and Showtime, it's simply not good enough. Last year, it was rumored that after Mayweather's fight with Robert Guerrero failed to dazzle with the PPV crowd (buys rumored to be between 900K and 1M), Showtime urged Mayweather to take on Canelo Alvarez - an undefeated champion that many saw as a 'risky' fight for Mayweather.  In the end, the Alvarez fight set the all-time PPV record (in terms of $ generated) with 2.2M buys and Mayweather thoroughly dominated Alvarez.  Showtime is likely singing the same tune this time around and urging Mayweather to take a fight that will generate a huge PPV number to 'even out' the year.

Miguel Cotto

Cotto speaking to the media before his fight with Antonio Margarito.  Even after several defeats, Cotto continues to garner a huge Puerto Rican following and commands the respect of every boxer that has ever stepped in the ring with him (including Mayweather).

Miguel Cotto is one of the most interesting fighters of the past decade - he's suffered a number of losses, but always commands an incredible amount of respect both from the media and other fighters. I've actually never heard another boxer say anything negative about Cotto; he is frequently referred to as "tough", "a warrior", and a "champion". Cotto built up an incredibly strong record, scoring 32 straight victories to start his career. He then lost a very controversial fight to Antonio Margarito - a brutal fight in which Margarito was likely aided by plaster blocks in his gloves, which was revealed right before the Margarito - Mosley fight in January 2009.  

Nonetheless, Cotto continues to be a very formidable box office draw. His Puerto Rican following is huge and likely exceeds that of which Felix Trinidad enjoyed in his prime. Cotto's home-turf is Madison Square Garden in New York where he enjoys the support of a raucous crowd. The other compelling aspect of Cotto is that he's already fought Mayweather (May-2012) and although he lost a unanimous decision, he battered Mayweather like nobody else we've ever seen - 'Pretty Boy' was not so pretty coming out of that fight. Mayweather admitted after the fight that Cotto was the toughest guy he's ever fought. Additionally, Mayweather points to the Cotto fight as the impetus to bring his father back to his corner - Floyd Mayweather Sr. is renowned for his 'defense-first' boxing strategy. The Cotto fight was Mayweather's last appearance on HBO before moving over to Showtime and generated a very healthy 1.5M PPV buys. Cotto will jump into the ring tonight against WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, which likely would still give him enough of a rest for a September fight.

Mayweather's battered face during his May-2012 fight with Miguel Cotto - a fight that Mayweather would later say was  his toughest ever despite winning a unanimous decision.

The Likely Choice

A Miguel Cotto victory over Sergio Martinez tonight would all but solidify a rematch with Floyd Mayweather in September and perhaps his last huge payday. Additionally, there are ways that Showtime and 'The Money Team' could increase the appeal of the fight:

  • Weight: It would be very interesting for this fight to take place at the 160-lb middleweight limit. Mayweather fought Maidana at welterweight (147-lb), but we know that Mayweather can definitely get up to over 160 lbs. Additionally, Mayweather already holds a junior middleweight belt (154-lb). Cotto is a naturally bigger fighter so forcing Mayweather up to 160 could be very intriguing.
  • Venue: Mayweather has fought nearly all of his major fights at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas.  He has often expressed a desire to fight in other places, but that's never materialized. Mayweather lives and trains in Vegas, so a fight at Madison Square Garden in front of what would be a very raucous Puerto Rican crowd could be another variable that would add to the public's appetite.

Should Cotto lose to Martinez tonight, I think he would likely lose the chance at the September Mayweather fight. People have already questioned whether the 33-year old Cotto is 'washed up' and way past his prime, which is ironic because Mayweather will be close to his 38th birthday in September. 

For what it's worth, I am hoping for a Mayweather - Cotto II at 160 lbs at Madison Square Garden. That would be a unique set of circumstances for boxing's biggest attraction. 

- T.C. Schiller

The Impact of Richard Schaefer's Departure from GBP

On Monday, Richard Schaefer officially resigned as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) after leaving the banking industry (Credit Suisse) to build the company from the ground up along with its namesake (Oscar De La Hoya) over the past twelve years.  The announcement was anything but surprising as it became apparent during the Mayweather - Maidana promotion that Schaefer and De La Hoya had 'irreconcilable differences'.

 Golden Boy Promotions' former CEO Richard Schaefer speaking to the media in-advance of the Mayweather - Maidana card.

Golden Boy Promotions' former CEO Richard Schaefer speaking to the media in-advance of the Mayweather - Maidana card.

The past year has been anything but harmonious at GBP with De La Hoya in-and-out of rehab as well as a heated feud between Schaefer and the other major boxing power - Top Rank's Bob Arum.  At one point, Schaefer claimed (and still stands by it) that he would never do business with Bob Arum again.  Schaefer's relationship with De La Hoya was further distanced and perhaps even severed when De La Hoya made peace with Bob Arum and then discussed the 'amends' in a very public forum - through the media. 

If the soap opera couldn't get anymore complex, in the middle of all of this, you have Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and his management, which includes Leonard Ellerbe (CEO of Mayweather Promotions) and the 'infamous' Al Haymon.  When De La Hoya returned to his company following rehab, where he serves as President and is the majority shareholder, he learned that a lot of fighters fighting on GBP cards only had signed contracts with Al Haymon and were not contractually committed to GBP - a fact he admitted to the press that 'caught him off-guard'.

 A future addition to the The Money Team?  Richard Schaefer in discussions with Mayweather Promotions' CEO, Leonard Ellerbe.

A future addition to the The Money Team?  Richard Schaefer in discussions with Mayweather Promotions' CEO, Leonard Ellerbe.

The boxing business is complex in that there are not strict regulations and oversight, unlike other major professional sports.  The so-called 'Ali Boxing Reform Act' was implemented in May-2000 and was designed to protect the fiscal interests of fighters (specifically from promoters like Don King). For example, under the Act, promoters are not supposed to serve as managers concurrently.  Many have long-believed that the 'man behind the curtain' (Haymon) serves as both for many of his fighters.  In any case, Ellerbe and Mayweather have publicly-sided with Schaefer, which leads into what I think is going to happen with Schaefer.

The Fallout

In comments to ESPN, it appears that Schaefer has no intentions of leaving the sport of boxing. It is likely that his GBP contract includes some type of non-compete clause in it.  However, as ESPN's Dan Rafael correctly points out, non-compete clauses in the state of California are about as 'loose as they get' and the enforcement of such provisions are often shot down.

Ellerbe and Mayweather have stated that Schaefer will always have a home in some capacity with their camp.  Additionally, Ellerbe stated that he has no intentions of working with GBP in-any-capacity in the future, which likely includes co-promoted cards.  The biggest question remains, which GBP fighters will defect and follow Schaefer?  After all, it has been Schaefer, not De La Hoya, that they have built relationships with.  The fact that a lot of supposed-GBP fighters do not have actual contracts with GBP does not bode well for De La Hoya.

I could see a scenario develop where Schaefer joins Ellerbe / Mayweather / Haymon making boxing a three-party race with Mayweather Promotions, Top Rank (Arum), and GBP (De La Hoya), all holding a number of reputable fighters.  I see it unlikely, but possible, that De La Hoya joins forces with Arum's Top Rank, which would consolidate the sport back to a two-horse race.

 A full-circle reunion?  De La Hoya embracing his former promoter and current competitor - Top Rank's Bob Arum

A full-circle reunion?  De La Hoya embracing his former promoter and current competitor - Top Rank's Bob Arum

To top it off, you also have the 'network' effect whereas certain promoters have now exclusively aligned themselves with certain television networks - not a new phenomenon in boxing, but one that is certainly amplified with the sport's current global divide.  For example, GBP (under Schaefer) has been exclusively aligned with Showtime, which is also the driver behind Mayweather's historic six-fight deal.  On the other hand, Arum's Top Rank is aligned with HBO.  The disconnect and exclusivity of these fighters with the various networks is just another complication to get the best matches made while the respective fighters are still at the top of the game.

In any case, Schaefer's departure from GBP does not bode well for the possibility of better fight cards in the future.  I think we are going to see more "manufactured champions" like Adrien 'I have a problem with real fighters' Broner - guys who are built up and sold to the public as great fighters based on domination of weak opponents - the result of skillful match-making (e.g., the 'Haymon Effect').  With Schaefer / Ellerbe / Mayweather refusing to work with Arum's Top Rank and now with GBP, it leaves the sport in peril.  People need to look beyond just Mayweather - Pacquiao, there are a lot of other great potential fights out there - unfortunately for all of us, those fighters are rarely under the same promotional banner, which appears to be the greatest left-hook of all in destroying a deal.

The Universal Moniker for Unfulfilled Potential: "Darko"

It is pretty hard to feel bad for a guy who got paid millions of dollars to play in the NBA.  However, in the case of Darko Milicic (aka "Darko"), it's not that hard.  Over ten years ago, the Detroit Pistons used its 2nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft to select a guy who, by all measures, was a "no-brainer" selection.  In fact, it's likely that if Darko had been in any other NBA Draft in the 2000s when a guy named LeBron graduated from high school, he would have been the number one overall pick.  The scouts drooled over Darko (no joke) and would continuously point to a number of statistics and attributes, including:

  • Legitimate 7-footer
  • 7-foot 4-inch wingspan
  • Left-hander 
  • Soft-touch
  • Tremendous "potential"

Unfortunately for Darko (and the Pistons), that potential was never realized - not even close.  Even though Darko stayed around in the league for twelve seasons, he never was more than a 12th man "garbage time" player, finally retiring from the NBA at the end of the 2012-2013 season having averaged 6.0 points and 1.3 blocks for his career.

Darko Milicic posing with his new Detroit Pistons uniform after being selected number two overall in the 2003 NBA Draft.

What about Kwame Brown or Sam Bowie?

Many will point to others like Kwame Brown (#1 overall selection of the Washington Wizards in the 2001 NBA draft) and Sam Bowie (#2 overall selection of the Portland Trailblazers in the 1984 NBA draft and one pick ahead of Michael Jordan) as bigger "busts".  Brown has been in the NBA for 13 seasons now and has had a 'semblance' of an NBA career.  By no means has he ever lived up to being the #1 overall pick of 2001, but he has stayed around and at times, been a contributor for the teams he played for.  Even Bowie stuck around for a decade and averaged a very respectable 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

The Universal Moniker for Unfulfilled Potential

In many ways, Darko's hype and ultimate failure has made him a universal moniker for "so much becoming so little" and I'm not sure that I would ever want to carry such a legacy.  Just for perspective, there were a few guys who were drafted after Darko in the 2003 NBA draft that have gone on to have fairly decent NBA careers - Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and David West to name a few.  Those picks, in-and-of-themselves, point to how much potential Darko had.  He was drafted above a kid like Carmelo Anthony who was just coming off leading Syracuse to a National Championship as a freshman.  Similarly, Dwyane Wade had just led his Marquette team to the Final Four - a once-storied program that was stuck in idle for years.  While the NBA Draft is often more indicative of potential than accomplishment (e.g., Dwight Howard picked over Emeka Okafor), it's hard to imagine somebody looking at both Anthony and Wade, and not seeing a load of potential there.

Darko's NBA legacy is that of a 'cautionary tale' - an NBA GM's worst nightmare.  It's made every team's scouts work that much harder - and that's a good thing.  You can't judge a lot of these kids on YouTube videos alone - you have to go and see them play, see how they react to adversity, see the potential in-person.  In a sense, Darko was and remains the poster-child for the 'freak-of-nature' physical characteristics being downgraded to the question of..."the stats and potential are great, but how does this really translate into production?"  Darko may have single-handedly cast a dark shadow on the foreign player who everybody has heard about, but nobody has really ever seen play.  There have certainly been others - Nikoloz Tskitishvili, for example, came out a year before Darko and was drafted number five overall - one could make a strong argument that Tskitishvili had a significantly worse career than Darko (if that is even possible).  But other Europeans have flourished in the NBA - Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Andrea Bargnani, and Peja Stojakovic to name a few.

Darko's all-too-familiar place on the Detroit Pistons roster - so far down on the depth chart that he didn't even get a chair.

The Unanswered Questions    

Like most recruiting and scouting, either in sports, corporations, or other talent-driven initiatives, the sad tale of Darko raises many more questions than it will ever answer:

  • Everybody knew Darko was 'very raw' coming to the NBA - did the Detroit Pistons spend adequate time developing him?  The answer is probably 'no', since the Pistons went on to win the NBA Championship a year later - there wasn't a lot of free playing time to hand out for a kid to experiment with.
  • Was Darko just another 'head-case'?  There are plenty of examples throughout sports of kids who just can't handle the pressures of the next level - Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Michael Beasley, etc. etc.
  • Was Darko really what everybody thought he was going into the 2003 NBA Draft?  In the cases of Ryan Leaf and Michael Beasley, there's no question these kids had tremendous talent and had both displayed it at the highest levels of collegiate athletics, they just fell into the shadows of the spotlight.
  • How is one supposed to differentiate between the next Darko and the next Dirk [Nowitzki]?

The answer to most of the aforementioned questions comes down to one factor - maturity.  By-in-large, the kids who go from tremendous potential to massive production in professional athletics are the ones that exhibit a high level of personal maturity - the willingness to learn, the patience / understanding to 'ride-the-pine', and most importantly, the ability to surround themselves with people / mentors that are going to make sure that they don't get caught up in the pitfalls of professional sports.   

He's Not the Last One

There will undoubtedly be many more Darko's in the years to come in all major sports.  After all,  one of the best recipes for implosion is youth, hype, and money - the mentality bestowed upon these kids of "you can do no wrong and here's millions of dollars to prove it".  The NFL seems to be placing increased scrutiny on character and intelligence (e.g., the "Wonderlic" test).  However, everybody is continually drawn to the kid with a lot of raw potential in the slim hopes that he turns into the next Kobe Bryant, which means that many are destined to be the "next Darko".  However, if scouts look deep and are honest to themselves, they'll understand that there were dozens of reasons why Kobe became Kobe, none of which were related to his undeniable talent, extraordinary potential and physical attributes. 

Kobe Bryant posing with then Lakers' General Manager, Jerry West and former head coach, Del Harris, after the Lakers acquired his rights during the 1996 NBA Draft from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for center Vlade Divac. 

- T.C. Schiller

The Economics of 'Money'

Over the past twelve months, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (aka TBE aka TMT aka Money) has done the unthinkable - he has passed The Golden Boy (Oscar De La Hoya) in terms of economic value in the sport of boxing. Oscar De La Hoya was the box office star for the majority of his illustrious career, during a time that saw the Welterweight / Super-Welterweight / Junior-Middleweight weight classes overtake the Heavyweight division in terms of overall appeal. The 1999 De La Hoya - Trinidad showdown, to-this-day, is one fight that I will remember forever. There was an energy about that fight that seemed almost mythical - it was not only a clash of two undefeated champions, but it was also a clash of cultures - Trinidad was (and still is) Puerto Rico's favorite son. De La Hoya was a 'tweener' that straddled both his Mexican ancestry and American (East Los Angeles) upbringing.

 Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad posing before their highly-anticipated 1999 showdown.

Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad posing before their highly-anticipated 1999 showdown.

However the fight, in-retrospect, was vastly overrated and neither fighter really ever overcame the disappointment of what transpired on that September night. De La Hoya dominated early and then ran, losing a close majority decision. De La Hoya went on to many big fights beating the likes of Vargas and Mayorga, but lost to Hopkins, Mayweather, Mosley (twice), and finally Pacquiao. Trinidad would be knocked out by Bernard Hopkins in late 2001 and was never really the same after that. The fight did an extraordinary 1.4M Pay-Per-View (PPV) buys but never saw a rematch in-large-part because the public didn't demand it.

Floyd Mayweather ironically built his early career in Bob Arum's Top Rank camp and largely in the shadows of De La Hoya. After splitting with Arum, Mayweather went off on his own and the rest is, as they say, is history. On September 14, 2013, Mayweather stepped into the ring with Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and made financial history. The 'Money' making by-the-numbers:

  • 2.2M PPV buys generating $150 million
  • Over 16,100 in attendance generating gate proceeds of $18.4 million
  • Other revenue (foreign, closed circuit, merchandise) generating an additional $40.0 million
  • Total revenue exceeding $200 million (Mayweather's take: Over $40 million)
 Showtime's  All Access  Pre-Fight Promotion

Showtime's All Access Pre-Fight Promotion

The Mayweather - Alvarez fight was not the most exciting fight I've ever seen. It was ruled a split decision - the one judge who scored it a draw (C.J. Ross) was also the same moron who scored the first Pacquiao - Bradley fight in favor of Bradley. To the delight of everyone associated with the sport, she has since relinquished her license to judge boxing in Nevada. It was a good fight, but it wasn't a great fight - Mayweather even at age 36, was simply too fast for the 23 year-old Alvarez. To put it nicely, he made Alvarez (a seasoned champion in his own right) look like an amateur.

 Floyd Mayweather and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez before their September-2013 fight.

Floyd Mayweather and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez before their September-2013 fight.

Whatever that September night lacked in boxing skill parity, it more than made up for in the spectacle that has become a Floyd Mayweather fight. Many other fighters, including the aforementioned De La Hoya, have had mainstream crossover appeal with the ability to draw celebrities and fans from all walks-of-life, but none have quite mastered it like 'Money'. The guy walks to the ring with Justin Bieber on one side and Lil Wayne on the other. He's done 'ring walks' with his Dancing of the Stars competitors before - Wayne Newton, Helio Castroneves, and Heidi Klum.

 The Money Team - Lil Wayne, Floyd Mayweather, Justin Bieber

The Money Team - Lil Wayne, Floyd Mayweather, Justin Bieber

Mayweather talks a lot of smack and that turns off a lot of people. But, the guy who walked to the ring to fight Maidana earlier this month is very different than the guy who fought De La Hoya in May 2007. He sees boxing much more like a business today and much less like a playground. He uses his fights as a celebration of sport - a means of entertainment to satisfy fans. He has mastered the idea of sport as a delicate balance between art and war. To his credit, Mayweather lives a 'clean' life - he is a workout monster, doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, and certainly doesn't party like he used to. So while many others before him have flamed out long before the age of 37, he's still 'Money'.

- T.C. Schiller

The 'Keyser Soze' of Boxing

For those familiar with the Kevin Spacey thriller, The Usual Suspects, the name 'Keyser Soze' should ring a bell. Soze is a seemingly mythical character working behind-the-scenes whose 'ruthlessness and influence have acquired a legendary, even mythical status.' He is never truly seen and those who work for him follow his directions like puppets hung from strings.

Al Haymon - boxing's "Power-Broker"

Over the past ten years, the boxing world has seen the rise of its own 'Keyser Soze', in the form of a boxing manager / promoter named Al Haymon. Haymon is a Harvard graduate, and was long known as a music promoter prior to his entry into the sport of boxing. The parallels between Haymon and Soze run large, in the sense that he is a 'behind-the-scenes' guy who wields a disproportionate amount of power in boxing - for example, he's able to get fighters that would generally not be considered Pay-Per-View (PPV) fighters onto PPV cards. He's built up fighters like Adrien Broner with mediocre / above-average boxing talent into superstars.

Known as boxing's 'power-broker', Haymon has been able to build a stable of fighters under-contract that represent the best-and-brightest that the sport has to offer. Unfortunately for all of us, he wields his power in a way that protects his fighters from the best fights that can be made by way of blocking potential blockbuster showdowns. Haymon fighters have little-to-no say in the fights they engage in and thus, we are often left with lopsided victories, 'paper champions', and general mediocrity.

Adrien "The Problem" Broner is perhaps the best manifestation of Haymon, the puppet-master. Broner is a cocky, flashy young fighter coined 'the next Mayweather' (he even refers to Floyd as 'big-brother'). And for a while, everybody had no reason to doubt this kid - he looked tremendous moving his way up the various divisions and becoming a three-time world champion. This was all working great until Broner had to fight a real fighter - Marcos Maidana - yes, the same Maidana that Mayweather just beat. Not only did Maidana put Broner on the canvas twice, he exposed what many had long-suspected, Broner is a fraud. Broner's post-fight interview after his one-sided victory against a 'nobody' on Saturday's Mayweather under-card fight demonstrated a kid who is not "the problem", but rather "a problem", and luckily for all of us, the WBC agreed and has suspended Broner for the comments.

Like Soze, Haymon is rarely seen in public and uses his right-hand man, Sam Watson, as his public representative - analogous to the role of 'Kobayashi' in The Usual Suspects. Haymon's role in the sport is continuing to grow - he has strong alliances with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Leonard Ellerbe and perhaps most-troubling, Golden Boy Promotion's (GBP) CEO, Richard Schaefer. Schaefer has been engaged in a very public dispute with GBP's majority shareholder and namesake, Oscar De La Hoya. Additionally, Schaefer has publicly declared that he will not deal with Bob Arum / Top Rank - boxing's other main promoter who handles Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, and a host of other top talent.

Haymon with two of his fighters - Floyd Mayweather and Andre Berto

Given these dynamics, it is unlikely that we will see any Arum fighters face any Haymon fighters, which includes any possibility of a Mayweather / Pacquiao showdown - we all lose. Additionally, there is a very real possibility that Schaefer pulls the carpet out from underneath De La Hoya and defects to build a new company with Haymon, Mayweather, and Ellerbe. If that were to happen, I see no other outcome than for De La Hoya to join forces with Arum (whom he recently reconciled with). Such a development would only further divide the current landscape of boxing and allow for the creation of more 'Adrien Broners' - mediocre fighters handed disproportionate and unearned opportunities.

But like what we've seen happen with Broner, there is only so much protection you can afford these fighters. Eventually, they are going to have to fight real talent and the cream will rise to the top.

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that...he is gone."

Kevin Spacey playing the role of Roger "Verbal" Kint / Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects

- T.C. Schiller

He is a "9-Figure Guy"

May 3rd saw one of the most exciting fights over the past year and eclipsed Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s previous two fights against Canelo Alvarez and Robert Guerrero. Ironically, Mayweather entered the ring as a 10-1 favorite to defeat the Argentine 'warrior' known as El Chino for his brawling tactics. It's the same guy who humiliated Mayweather's protege Adrien Broner last December, knocking the big-mouthed welterweight down twice before cruising to a unanimous decision.

Mayweather on the defensive to counter the brawling Maidana.

Mayweather's seemingly "controversial" decision over Marcos Maidana was a great fight any way you look at it - one that the public is already demanding to see again. For the second straight fight, Mayweather was not granted a unanimous decision. The final scorecards were as follows:

  • 114 - 114 (Even)
  • 117 - 111 (Mayweather 9/3)
  • 116 - 112 (Mayweather 8/4)

Source: ESPN (Jorge Eduardo Sanchez)

While the 9/3 scorecard (117 - 111) didn't give Maidana credit for what he was able to do in the fight, the 6/6 scorecard (114 - 114) didn't give Floyd credit for his resilience and his ability to adjust to one of the most awkward fighters I've seen in a while. Another issue that Floyd faced was being cut for the first time in his career, and dealing with an inability to see out of one eye for two rounds. But make no mistake about it, Floyd was cut by an accidental head-butt and not a punch.

Has Mayweather Lost a Step?

For years now, boxing commentators, fellow fighters and-the-like have all commented on the Floyd Mayweather of today looking very much like the Floyd Mayweather of seven or eight years ago. Let's face it, Mayweather is 37 years old now. He's no longer "the kid" we saw take the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics nor the guy who taunted the sport's beloved Oscar De La Hoya in the May-2007 mega-fight. But for whatever he's lost physically, he's more than made up for it mentally. He's a smarter fighter that is more patient, more relaxed, and shows a level of boxing-IQ that you don't see in the young fighters of today. Last night was perhaps the greatest testament to that. A 29 year-old Mayweather likely would have done something last night to cost himself a victory - whether it be lose his composure based on the blood dripping in his eye, or simply panicked opening himself up for a big punch. I have to say that, in-person, Mayweather did not look like he's lost a step as many have since mentioned. His hand speed is simply incredible - the best in the business.

My favorite fighter of all-time is another Jr. - Roy Jones Jr. that is. There's actually a lot of commonalities between the two fighters that go far beyond their inherited namesakes. They both were trained from the crib to be champion fighters and both endured strained relationships with their fathers, only to reconcile the relationships in later years. For years, everybody wondered if Roy could take a punch. One could argue that between 1994 and 2003, Roy never took a real punch - a true testament to his athleticism. But when he finally did take a punch (from Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson), we learned that he really couldn't. Floyd's different - for all of his speed and athleticism, Mayweather has been in some brawls and he has taken some big punches - Shane Mosley rocked him in the second round in May-2010.

He Simply is a Star

I have only recently become a Mayweather fan. Like many, his antics of the past were childish, flamboyant and plain ridiculous. However, his maturity over the years has shown both inside and outside the ropes. He's developed into the type of fighter that draws non-fight fans to the sport - the type of guy that can draw 12,000 people to the weigh-in (yes, the weigh-in). He's a 9-figure guy, no doubt about it. His two fights with Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez hold the Pay-Per-View (PPV) record, racking up 2.4M and 2.2M buys, respectively. Prior to joining Showtime, his nine HBO fights racked up a total 9.6M PPV buys and over $540M for the network.

Mayweather - Maidana Weigh-In (May 2, 2014)

In early 2013, Mayweather signed on with Showtime for his six-fight "farewell" tour - a deal that guarantees him $200M and likely in upwards of $300M with incentives based on PPV buys. The deal has been called "the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports". Based on that deal, he has three fights left in his career and one can only hope that we will see a compromise on the "business barriers" to allow for a Mayweather - Pacquiao showdown, which would likely be the richest boxing match in the history of the sport.

So while you may not like Mayweather, you have to respect the promotion that he brings, which brings stars from all walks-of-life ringside every time he enters the ring. He turns fights into "events" - must-see attractions. Few fighters have transcended the "sweet science" and captured the attention of the world, but those that have are all 9-figure guys.

-T.C. Schiller