The first thing out of Money Mayweather's mouth in Showtime's All Access series was, “I need a new Rolex,” as he and The Money Team perused new jewelry before the Mayweather-Alvarez press tour kicked into high gear. The whole crew rocked ice, and why not? Floyd Mayweather has once again shown that he's not only boxing's best talent, but it's best businessman as well.
Though his, uh, antics – like burning $100 bills in clubs – make him look like a clown, a part of that (and few really know how much) is his alter ego, Money Mayweather. Whether you disdain his attitude and behavior or find it amusing, Mayweather has your attention. He's much less Trinidad Jame$ than he is P. Diddy. You won’t see Floyd going M.C. Hammer no matter how many bills he burns. He uses Money Mayweather to line the bank account, while Pretty Boy Floyd handles things in the ring.
Mayweather won the Forbes crown of highest paid athlete in 2012 (calculated by fiscal year), pulling in $85 million. It’s an honor he appears likely to retain. Thanks to his gargantuan contract with Showtime, he's already guaranteed $75 million in the 2013 calendar year before counting revenue he could make from pay-per-view numbers when he fights Canelo Alvarez. This is a fight some think could break the all-time mark for PPV buys (this now appears unlikely, but they may still make more money since PPVs cost more).
Mayweather-Alvarez is the biggest fight in boxing at the moment and Canelo is the toughest opponent out there (unless Manny Pacquiao begins his comeback tour well against Brandon Rios, but Mayweather recently said Mayweather-Pacquiao wasn't happening). He's young, powerful, good-looking and brings a large fan base to PPV. Canelo is billed as the next Golden Boy, brought up by Oscar De La Hoya carefully and slowly, and the potential heir to boxing's throne.
A fight between Mayweather and Alvarez has been on the cards for a while, but Mayweather chose to get this bout out of the way earlier than expected in his six-fight deal with Showtime. After easily dispatching a woefully outmatched Robert Guerrero, Mayweather chose Canelo for his second fight, rather than letting the pot build a bit more with hype and anticipation.
It's another shrewd move from Mayweather and manager Leonard Ellerbe; they don't need the money to grow any more. Fighting Canelo now means Mayweather gets the chance to knock off his top competitor while he's closer to his prime and before his brittle right hand potentially breaks down (Mayweather said he wanted the KO against Guerrero but couldn't because of a hand injury).
Many would avoid such a fight to preserve their undefeated record – and, along with it, marketability – and wait until their last couple fights to take the challenge, with higher risk of defeat at an older age. But that mindset doesn't apply to Mayweather. With his Showtime contract, Mayweather is guaranteed four more fights, meaning two more years of at least $75 million, win or lose. That's money.
Mayweather and Ellerbe's business dealings set them apart from any other athlete in the world, which allows them to break the bank on a regular basis. Mayweather isn't a part of a players union, nor does anyone set a salary cap on his sport. Since Mayweather is his own promoter, the sky is the limit (though one imagines Leonard Ellerbe will try to find out if that's true). He doesn't rely on anyone and doesn't earn a single dollar from endorsements. Everything comes from the ring.
Dwyane Wade is probably envious. He spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski shortly after the new salary cap deal was struck in the NBA.
For everything they do to drive TV ratings and gate receipts, the global advancement and relentless news coverage, it’s a farce that the elite of the elite have to listen to so many sorry, sloppy owners tell them they deserve rollbacks on present contracts and deserve future ones to be slashed. These stars are the NBA. They’re everything.
Nowhere in sports is the superstar more vital than basketball, because the ball’s forever in the star’s hands and a singular talent has the most transformational impact. Let owners bid on the true value the elite stars bring to a franchise, to the league, and Wade was asked where he believes the bidding would rise per season?
“I’m sure it would get to $50 million,” Wade told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday afternoon.
Wade earns about $17.4 million on the court and picked up another $11.5 million in endorsements, good for 23rd on the Forbes list. Even Tiger Woods, who's usually around the top of the list, made a whopping $65 million from endorsements, while earning $13 million on the golf course this season.
Of course, few play the game as well as Mayweather, and they don't fight like him either. Boxers have a short shelf life, most getting one or two shots at glory at best, meaning little pay and a lot of punishment. If Wade were injured and couldn't make money, he might not be as willing to jump over to the more free-market style of boxing.
If you are prepared, however, you can game the system. Mayweather was bred to box, taught by his uncle and father who were both pros themselves (ask Kobe who the original Black Mamba was). Ellerbe has proven a strong businessman with a reputation throughout boxing that he gets his way. The two make the most powerful tandem in sports and it gives Mayweather a lot of freedom.
This isn't always a good thing. Mayweather often offends with some of his antics, including a racist rant directed towards Pacquiao. It hasn't really affected his bottom line, however. Love him or hate him, everyone tunes in.
Tiger didn't have such freedom. Mayweather surrounds himself with gorgeous women, and rumors fly that he and fiancée Ms. Jackson share a somewhat open relationship, because no one checks him. Would the PGA tour allow Lil' Wayne to rap Tiger's intro? Would the NBA allow Dwayne Wade to rock “Money.Power.Respect” tees at a press conference?
Though we don't really know Floyd Mayweather, per se – at least not like we know his persona, Money – he can express himself however he chooses. Mayweather and Ellerbe answer only to the bottom line, living the ultimate free-market dream.
Showtime is probably praying for a Canelo Alvarez victory.
A win for the young Mexican fulfills a boxing prophecy of sorts, a media creation living up to the hype (illusion?) after beating several almost-big names (Miguel Cotto's older brother, Ricky Hatton's younger brother) in the hopes of catching a big fish. Canelo has the biggest fish in boxing in front of him now, but no one has caught him yet.
Canelo has the best shot of any of Mayweather's recent foes given his youth, exuberance and power. He won't hesitate to pull the trigger as Shane Mosley did when Mayweather, for a moment, appeared human; won't attempt to kiss Mayweather in the ring like Victor Ortiz; and probably won't stop pressuring Mayweather as Miguel Cotto did. As always, one punch can determine a fight. Still, Canelo has his own flaws, and, as usual, it seems a lot more likely that Floyd finds his weaknesses before Canelo finds Floyd.
This, plus rumors of weight troubles for Canelo, embolden the Mayweather camp. At the last press stop in Los Angeles, Mayweather turned to De La Hoya and said, “You might as well call me the Golden Boy, ‘cuz I beat your whole crew.”
Well, except for one (hence The One). But if Mayweather beats Canelo, he'll have four more fights to go, millions from Showtime to rake in, and no one to challenge him.