COMMENTARY | In terms of ring ability and overall professional resume, there can be plenty of intelligent debate as to whether Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao gets top billing on boxing historians' short list of this era's best fighters.
However, in terms of boxing business acumen, Pacquiao is a mere four-round club fighter when compared to "Money" Mayweather.
The controversial five-division world champ has managed to fight his way to an unprecedented level of career and monetary independence in the sport while becoming recognized by Forbes Magazine as the sporting world's highest paid athlete.
To further his reputation as equal parts shrewd businessman and exceptionally well-managed elite-level boxer, Mayweather, on Tuesday, made major waves by announcing that he had signed a deal to take his special blend of world class boxing mastery and dysfunctional domestic tomfoolery to Showtime.
Although the financial details of the 6-fight, 30-month deal have yet to be released, it's being widely reported that the Mayweather-Showtime arrangement could be the biggest and richest in boxing history.
Mayweather brings legitimate drawing power to the deal, having been a part of the most lucrative pay-per-view event of all-time, against Oscar De la Hoya in 2007, and averaging well over a million buys in his five main events since then. Along with the money generation, the pound-for-pound king brings a stellar ring presence to Showtime that would allow the premium cable channel to now boast of having the sport's best fighters under their domain.
And with Mayweather, of course, there come those who would love a shot at a major payday and main stage exposure, along with a chance at toppling boxing's best fighter. With the Showtime deal in place, all future Mayweather opponents, likely for the rest of his boxing career, would have to be willing and able to take their services to Showtime as well.
So, not only has Floyd Mayweather created a sweet deal for his bottom line, he has also positioned himself to be an empire builder with some real power to throw around.
Never has a professional boxer ever had so much power over his own career and professional self- determination. The stars have always been able to call shots to some degree, but what Mayweather and his team will have is almost complete boardroom-level control over every aspect of his work situation.
Historically, boxers have been the most mistreated and professionally manhandled fighters in the mainstream sporting world. Fighters tend to receive a shockingly small percentage of their purses and, with no centralized authority to represent their best interests, are left completely unprotected from the shadier aspects of the sport. As soon as their ability to win a fight and pack an arena has diminished, most boxers are completely cast aside and forced to fend for themselves with little, if any, money in the bank and zero preparation for life outside the ring.
There's no use in chronicling all the stories of big ticket prizefighters who found themselves dealing in tragedy-There are just too many from which to choose. But stories of short-changed fighters and two-fisted victims of boxing politics are sadly commonplace in the sport. Any fan or member of the media complaining about a fighter having more guaranteed money in his contract and more professional autonomy is really no friend of the sport's athletes at all.
Mayweather's $40 million per bout and general sweetheart deal with Showtime is no guarantee that his story won't also end sadly, but the power of self-determination is fully in his own hands now.
Boxing needs more instances of fighters taking control of their own careers. It's only fair that those assuming all the risks and making all the sacrifices reap a fair share of the reward and have full control of their careers.
Love or hate Floyd Mayweather, his example is one that should be followed by all aspiring fighters.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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