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Mayweather’s Priceless Zero

For a man who brashly calls himself “Money” there is no number more valuable than zero. Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes tens of millions of dollars each time he steps inside a boxing ring, but the zero that occupies the loss column of his professional record is priceless. Floyd’s money didn’t buy his spectacular 44-0 record. It was earned through blood and sweat over 17 long years in an unforgiving business. Unlike the mansions, luxury cars, and jewelry that he regularly shows off on television, if he loses that precious zero, no amount of money will be able to bring in back.

When Mayweather signed to fight budding Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 14, he agreed to face an opponent who has a realistic chance of sullying his undefeated record for the first time since he fought Oscar De La Hoya six years ago. Floyd’s detractors would argue that his perfect record is as much a result of strategic match-making as his prodigious talent. His supporters would contend that with the notable exception of Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather has fought nearly every big name of his era, throughout five different weight classes. This booking against Alvarez, in a way, proves both factions correct.

Canelo is arguably most dangerous opponent that Mayweather could have chosen, but the timing of this fight also makes a great deal of sense for Floyd both strategically and financially. At just 23-years-old, Alvarez should only continue to improve as a boxer, while history suggests that the 36-year-old Mayweather’s skill will soon begin to decline. For Mayweather, there is no better time to fight Alvarez than now.

Floyd would also seem to have a great financial incentive to have his next fight be against a big draw such as Alvarez, who attracts a considerable Mexican fan-base.ESPN’s Dan Rafael quoted multiple industry sources that imply Mayweather’s last Pay-Per-View bout against Robert Guerrero “did around 870,000 to 900,000 buys.” The fight was the first under a new deal with Showtime that could pay Mayweather upwards of 200 million dollars for six fights. While the PPV numbers for the Guerrero fight were not terrible, if they do not improve Showtime will not see anywhere the profits they had hoped to recoup from their investment. Mayweather cherishes his ability to generate revenue almost as much as his spotless record. A man who literally refers to himself as “Money” cannot afford to have his business partners not return on their investment in him.

I vowed that I would not order the Guerrero fight from moment it was announced. I wavered slightly on that decision slightly on the night of the fight as I sat on my couch after rainy NY weather had KO’d my evening plans. I ultimately chose to pass on paying $65 for a fight to which I could pretty easily predict the outcome. I told myself that Floyd would dance around the ring and use his unrivaled defensive and counter-punching skills to win a one-sided decision against an over-matched opponent. I had seen that movie before and was content to not incur an excessive charge on my cable bill to watch it again. The fight played out as expected and the PPV buy numbers seemed to indicate that many people like me who had ordered Mayweather fights in the past made the similar decision to stay away.

Mayweather is the biggest name in the sport and would go down as an all-time great even if he never fought again, but he currently needs Canelo Alvarez. He is smart enough to realize that his last fight flew largely under the radar with respect to the mainstream media and casual boxing fans. I believe Floyd’s extraordinary technical skill and big fight experience will ultimately prove too much for the talented young Mexican, however I am far from certain. This Saturday night I will gladly pay the freight to see if Mayweather can keep his zero and I suspect that a massive Pay-Per-View audience will do the same.

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