Floyd Mayweather spurning HBO for his May 4th fight against Robert Guerrero was probably set in motion ten seconds after Juan Manuel Marquez’s right hand connected with Manny Pacquiao’s face.
Floyd is all about the Benjamins (“I don't know who the President is, but I know who Ben Franklin is,” he said in 2008, during promotion for his "fight" against WWE's Big Show). Once Pacquiao went down, so did his anticipated $50 million payday.
So when HBO made an “aggressive and responsible offer,” for Floyd’s next fight, he bounced. Floyd “Burning hundreds in the club” Mayweather ain’t about that. Not at 36 years old. Floyd hasn’t shown any ring rust, but Father Time has never lost—and we know how much Mayweather cares about his undefeated record.
Instead, Mayweather set himself up for the next 30 months—which will leave him at a still-capable-of-a-big-fight 38 and a half—inking a six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS. Those last three letters are the key: With the deal, Mayweather will gain time on a national network when the press conference for his fight against Guerrero takes place on CBS.
Floyd is taking the press conference to another level, too. According to Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, the pressers will take place presidential-debate style, with a moderator asking questions in front of a live audience.
This isn’t the first time Mayweather changed the boxing landscape. His business arrangement with boxing—essentially, promoting himself and fronting the money for his competitors—is one of a kind, and ensures Mayweather earns the maximum dollar possible.
He appears to have done the same with his new partnership. The financial terms of Mayweather’s deal haven’t been revealed, but promise to make him “the richest individual athlete in all of sports” if he sees it through. That “if” is relevant given Mayweather’s style of fighting once a year—if he feels like it—but manager Leonard Ellerbe, naturally, assures it won’t be a problem.
For HBO, it’s a major loss. They attempted to step their game up after briefly losing Pacquiao in 2011, when Bob Arum and Top Rank took his fight against Shane Mosley to Showtime. But the network has struggled to build on the initial success of 24/7—a show that started with Mayweather when he and Oscar De La Hoya prepared to fight in 2007. The show received several awards, rightly so, but 24/7 has become a bit stale, even when Mayweather has been involved, as of late. Now, without their biggest marketable star for the next two and a half years, they will be forced to look in other directions for big paydays.
Necessity is the mother of invention. That’s what HBO will need to realize in the upcoming months as they prepare for life without Mayweather. It is a day of reckoning that was always coming for boxing, and the biggest budget in the game will now have to rethink their business model.
It could be a welcome change for boxing in the big picture.
For now, Floyd Mayweather is the big picture, and with CBS, it may actually get even bigger.