COMMENTARY | Early Tuesday afternoon via Twitter, ESPN's Dan Rafael chose to leak the info that the buy numbers for last Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view were, perhaps, going to be quite disappointing for Showtime and members of Team Mayweather.
"No official PPV #'s yet for Floyd but 2 industry sources tell me they look bad (under 1M). We'll see. If true, heavy $$ losses for Showtime," Rafael wrote.
The preliminary report, if true, could be a big punch in the gut for the network which invested a sizable chunk of its operating budget in signing the controversial five-division world champ to a multi-fight deal earlier this year.
Still, it needs to be pointed out that Rafael's report is very premature. It would be odd to get reliable buy rate info so soon after the event. In this particular case, only sixty hours had elapsed between the end of the card and Rafael's tweet. Some are even saying that, actually, only satellite dish buy numbers are available at this point.
If the pay-per-view does prove to be a flop-and, in this case, a flop would have to be anything significantly below a million buys-don't expect for anyone at Showtime, Golden Boy, or Mayweather Promotions to openly share this info with the public. What will likely happen is a public shuffling of papers and efforts at distracting from the topic at hand.
Expect, though, some dogged members of the media, many of whom relish "gotcha" moments when it comes to Mayweather (and, apparently, Mayweather alone), to drop the stink bomb on the event as soon as humanly possible. A poorly performing Mayweather pay-per-view will be big news and allow for many a hit piece to be written by those usually inclined to do so, anyway. One thing you can be sure of is a plentiful roster of dedicated critics available to give Mayweather a comeuppance for any number of reasons.
However, assuming that Rafael's early, early buy rate assessment is true, there are plenty of possible reasons why Mayweather-Guerrero just didn't capture the public's attention.
First, there's Robert Guerrero.
Despite some of the criticisms and regardless of the ultimately one-sided nature of the bout, the four-division champ from Gilroy, California was a legitimate opponent for Mayweather. Wins over Andre Berto and Selcuk Aydin earned him a sport as a legitimate world class welterweight. The problem was that Guerrero had spent 90% of his professional career toiling away in the poorly-publicized lower weight classes and suffering through periods of inactivity due to injury and his wife's battle with cancer. Even the Aydin fight was no big deal, aired as the main event of a small-scale Showtime double header.
The casual fan-really, the driving force of PPV buys-had not seen much of Guerrero prior to the publicity for the Mayweather bout began and simply didn't care all that much about him as a man or as a fighter.
The second reason for a possible Mayweather PPV flop has everything to do with the star of the show.
Throughout the promotional tour for the card, the world saw the obnoxious, new jack boxing villain replaced by a subdued, introspective Mayweather who seemed more content with the role of philosopher than "Money."
Blame Team Mayweather for the appearance of a monotone, thoughtful bad guy who inspired fewer people than expected to call their cable company. Mayweather and his people had full creative control over the prefight documentaries used to hype the fight, but they opted for fawning adulation over buy-inducing controversy. Frankly, a good number of people like to hate Floyd and buy his shows so they can root for the other guy. The pre-fight promotion for this show failed to whip the enemies into a buying frenzy.
As Mayweather explores opponents for the second bout of his six-fight Showtime deal, there are going to have to be changes made. A bankable opponent needs to be chosen and the "old" Money needs to come back. Anything less will result in sure disappointment (again).
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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