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News out of the Vegas-based Mayweather camp is that Floyd Jr., is relatively healthy and on target for his September 12 fight with Andre Berto. He is still dealing with soft and sore hands but this is a problem that has plagued him most of his career. It will not, the camp insists, play a role in the fight itself.
On the heels of the Pacquiao fight this particular camp has an anti-climactic feel to it, almost as if the team is going through the motions. While the self-styled best-ever continues to insist that the Berto fight will be his last, insiders, on condition of anonymity, suggest otherwise.
While this bit of information will not come as a surprise to anyone, it is interesting to note that Money May continues to make this point ad nauseum, almost as if he is well aware that it is a narrative that needs to be sold aggressively if this fight is to find PPV success. While it is true that he has one fight left on his six-fight Showtime contract, he wants the world to know that with all of his career accomplishments and undefeated status, he is ready to take “a well-deserved rest.”
Showtime executives continue to parrot Floyd Jr., suggesting that even they are approaching this fight as if it is his last. The problem with this particular narrative is that it is a complete fiction. While Showtime brass and Mayweather himself assume a public that is none-the-wiser and ripe for the shtick usually associated with used cars salesmen, fresh news coming out of camp suggests that amongst team insiders there is the feeling that the Mayweather-Berto fight is such a stinker on paper that everyone, including Ariza the physical trainer, needs to get on the same page and stick to the promotion’s “talking points.”
Mayweather is not only aware that from an economic standpoint the fight is problematic but when confronted by Showtime brass about the viability of a Berto promotion Money conceded that it would be a hard sell. Showtime however was and continues to be beholden to Mayweather and while many vehemently opposed Berto as an opponent, there was ultimately nothing they could do but swallow the selection and try to put the best possible spin on it.
While the live TV option was originally on the table the timing, logistics and funding of the fight became highly problematic. With the turn to PPV the promotion is scrambling. Everyone on the inside, literally everyone, knows this will not be Mayweather’s last fight but it was determined that in order to manufacture interest in a fight no one but Berto’s team and Mayweather himself wanted, they needed an angle. Hence the “last fight” fiction.
To add insult to injury the public is not being made aware that Money is indeed planning on a so-called “return” fight come May of 2016. Given the stunning success of the May/Pac fight, Mayweather knows it would be foolhardy to walk away from another huge payday. While a second fight will obviously not do the numbers the first fight did, even half the revenue would make it one of the top PPV sellers in history.
Back on July 27 ESPN’s well respected senior writer Dan Rafael reported that (while not citing sources), CBS/Showtime was engaged in negotiations with Mayweather to extend his contract. Showtime Sports Executive Stephen Espinoza quickly denied the claim and called it a false rumor. The truth is that Showtime has been exceedingly concerned about a so-called Mayweather comeback fight or fights and did in fact engage in “talks” calculated to “flesh out” Mayweather’s plans.
While Showtime vehemently denies same going so far as to claim Rafael made the story up, the truth is that, despite self-serving reports to the contrary, some sort of “understanding” has been struck that allows Mayweather to take an “easy” fight to fulfill his contractual obligation. Then, when he “returns,” the established expectation is that he will do so under the Showtime banner. The conjecture amongst camp insiders is that the May 2016 fight will be with Pacquiao at MGM Grand’s new stadium.
While the latest Mayweather-Berto camp news is light on salient information concerning preparation for the Berto fight itself, the one thing that is materializing is that there is simply too much money on the table for vested interests and parties to let Floyd Jr., fight a B-class fighter then ride into the sunset. Such a move would be not only economically malfaisant, but legacy destructive. After Berto takes his beating stay-tuned for news of Money’s “official retirement” then his “surprising” comeback early in the new year.
By Matthew R. Fellows
Bleacher Report: Manny Pacquiao Comments on Potential Rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
Daily Mail: Floyd Mayweather lives up to ‘money’ moniker as boxing star ‘packs light’ for upcoming trip.
Bloguin: Defiant Until the End, Floyd Mayweather Goes Out on His Own Terms.
Featured Image Courtesy of Prize Fights.com Flickr Page – Creative Commons License