The most influential boxer in the world flexed his muscles a bit on Thursday to show who's boss to the man who used to hold that mythical title.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced via a smartphone app, of all things, that he would fight a welterweight title rematch against Marcos Maidana on Sept. 13 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
That the announcement was made only hours before Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya was about to step behind a podium and run a very critical news conference was not at all coincidental.
The message was loud and clear, to De La Hoya, to potential venues, to Showtime, and to anyone else with an interest in the fight game: This is all about what's best for Floyd Mayweather. Everyone else be damned.
De La Hoya is promoting a pay-per-view card on Saturday between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara at the MGM Grand on Saturday. The news conference was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday, or only about three hours after Mayweather announced he would rematch Maidana.
Of course, had he wanted to, Mayweather could have waited until Monday to make the announcement. That would have left him 62 days until fight night. As it is, he announced his bout 66 days before.
The four-day wait wouldn't have made that big of a difference in the promotion of the Mayweather-Maidana rematch, but it took up an important day of news coverage for the Alvarez-Lara pay-per-view.
Pay-per-view bouts thrive on late publicity and momentum. But by mid-afternoon Pacific time on Thursday, the boxing websites and many online newspaper sports sections were screaming about the Mayweather-Maidana bout and the Alvarez-Lara bout was dumped to B-level status.
Mayweather chose to have Golden Boy Promotions promote his card for the 10th bout in a row, all of which have been at the MGM Grand. This came after Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe did interviews following Richard Schaefer's resignation as Golden Boy CEO on June 2 in which he unequivocally said Mayweather would no longer work with Golden Boy.
MLive.com, based in Mayweather's Grand Rapids, Mich., birthplace, had a story on June 3 below a headline that read, "Floyd Mayweather will self-promote Sept. 13 fight after Richard Schaefer leaves Golden Boy."
Ellerbe told MLive.com columnist David Mayo, who has covered Mayweather's career for more than 25 years, "Their company is in a leadership flux."
Elsewhere in the same story, he said, "We're not looking to sit around under somebody else's umbrella. The timing couldn't be better. This was going to happen anyway."
And finally, Ellerbe told Mayo, "We haven't been working 16, 17 hours a day, seven days a week, for the last seven years, for nothing. During that time frame, we've evolved and grown our own brand. I'm concerned about Mayweather Promotions and our fighters, not some other company's fighters. It's not about Oscar or Golden Boy Promotions. It's about us and our company."
The reason that Mayweather used Golden Boy in the first place is because Mayweather Promotions is not licensed to promote in Nevada. It has filed an application and will be considered by the Nevada Athletic Commission at its July 23 meeting in Las Vegas.
So, even though Schaefer is gone from Golden Boy, there was no logical replacement Ellerbe could hire to promote Mayweather's Sept. 13 show, because Top Rank and CEO Bob Arum, the alternatives, are sworn Mayweather enemies.
That's why Ellerbe acted as if he didn't know the reason for the fuss when a reporter expressed surprise that he was using Golden Boy again after having said five weeks ago he would not.
"As the CEO of Mayweather Promotions and as a businessman, I have one objective," Ellerbe told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. "That is to maximize all the revenues, benefits and opportunities for our guy. It's the strict business principal this company is run on.
"From Day One, it's been a very successful business principle. We follow those guidelines and whether it's who we are fighting or venue selection or anything else, I operate under the guidelines and the principles that whatever benefits Floyd Mayweather is what I'll do."
So, without a license for Mayweather Promotions to promote the fight by itself, Ellerbe had to reach out to De La Hoya's company yet again.
News of the rematch was met with mixed reaction on social media. Showtime hasn't released the pay-per-view figures for the first fight, which Mayweather won by majority decision on May 3, and that has sparked all sorts of intrigue.
There has been endless speculation about what the figure is and why Showtime hasn't announced it. Sources told Yahoo Sports that the figure was between 850,000 and 900,000 buys, but Showtime Sports vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza refused to confirm it.
He swore it wasn't because the fight flopped at the pay-per-view till and said Showtime wouldn't have signed off on the rematch if the first one had been disastrous.
"I was a little disappointed by the discussion following the May 3 fight," Espinoza said. "Here, we had one of the most entertaining, if not the most entertaining, fights we have seen Floyd have in recent times. It was relatively competitive compared to other recent opponents, and overall it was a pretty satisfying event given the strong undercard. It had all the ingredients for a very memorable, entertaining, satisfying evening, but the discussion after the event was almost exclusively about pay-per-view buys.
"It's not healthy for the event, and I don't think it's healthy for the sport. It's not healthy for our business because it's become an obsession. We made the decision that we're not going to continue feeding into that. It had nothing to do with the fight's actual [PPV] performance but is more of a statement of what we should be talking about as fans and supporters of the sport."
It's Mayweather who created the obsession. For years, he hammered home the significance of the pay-per-view numbers, particularly when he was regularly performing better than archrival Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather's fans then picked up on that and exploded on social media about pay-per-view numbers and how much fighters deserved to be paid rather than the merits of a fighter in the ring.
Espinoza told Yahoo Sports that the Mayweather-Maidana fight sold a significant number of pay-per-views after the bout.
He speculated that people heard it was an entertaining fight and decided to buy it after the fact.
That, he said, buttressed his belief that a rematch with Maidana was the right one to take.
"This was an interesting pattern for us to see," Espinoza said. "I think some people assumed Floyd would win in dominant fashion, as he has so often in recent times, but then they heard and read about the fight and I think they decided, 'You know what? That sounds entertaining enough,' and they bought it on Sunday or Monday. That, I think bodes well for the rematch."
The laughable part of all the hysteria over the pay-per-view number is that even if it sold "only" 900,000, which is 41 percent of what Mayweather's previous fight against Alvarez sold, it still generated massive amounts of money.
While people were laughing at Mayweather for what they believed to be a pay-per-view flop, Mayweather was laughing all the way to the bank. At 900,000 sales, the fight generated $63 million in gross pay-per-view revenue. Add that to the $15 million gate, which ranks fourth all-time, and that's $78 million gross revenue in the U.S. alone.
Neither Mayweather, Ellerbe, Espinoza nor anyone else who stood to make money off the fight is feeling the effects of a shortfall.
While many are unhappy with a rematch, there wasn't a lot of choice. Super lightweight champion Danny Garcia, who was probably the other guy most in consideration, lost a lot of support when he struggled against Maurcio Herrera in March.
Also, Garcia and his father, Angel, have preferred to stay at 140 and take a few more fights there before moving up to challenge Mayweather.
Given that Mayweather refuses to do business with Top Rank, that ruled out Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, among others.
That left Mayweather to choose between the likes of Maidana, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.
Though Thurman's boxing ability, punching power and ability to talk and promote himself make him a solid potential Mayweather opponent, he's still not well known among the casual fan base.
He's certainly not as known as Maidana, who is coming off a good effort against Mayweather and before that defeated Adrien Broner.
The truth is, Mayweather's history shows he'll deliver around a million buys, give or take, against most opponents. He'll do 50 or 100 percent more against "special opponents," such as Alvarez, Cotto or Pacquiao, who have their own built-in fan bases.
But there is no fight that can be made in boxing that financially will do anything approaching what a Mayweather fight will do.
It's why nary a negative word was heard from anyone involved even though Mayweather stole the headlines Thursday from the Alvarez-Lara card when that card most needed them.
And the timing of the Mayweather-Maidana announcement was Floyd's way of reminding Oscar just who the boss happens to be.
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