In a move loaded with implications, Floyd 'Money' Mayweather Jr. announced today that he would be leaving his longtime television partners HBO/Time Warner to sign a long-term deal with rivals Showtime/CBS.
Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) also announced that he will be returning to the ring on May 4 to fight interim welterweight titlist Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV.
Mayweather, who turns 36 on Sunday, is still undefeated in his professional career. He has claimed belts in five divisions and is currently ranked the pound-for-pound number one fighter by The Ring, ESPN, BoxRec and others. He currently holds the WBC Welterweight title, and also attained WBA and WBC Light Middlewieight belts in a unanimous decision over four-time champion and future hall-of-famer Miguel Cotto last Cinco de Mayo weekend at the MGM.
Since then Mayweather has: completed a 60-day jail internment for domestic abuse in a Las Vegas detention center, had an acrimonious falling-out with rapper/best-friend 50 Cent, and reportedly made amends with his father Floyd Sr.
Floyd Sr. will return in a training capacity for the first time since being run-out of the gym by his son in a demeaning exchange caught by HBO 24/7 documentarians.
Though Mayweather is undefeated, and is universally considered one of the finest defensive technicians of all time; a myriad of boxing pundits have often cited his seeming reluctance to take on true tests in the ring. While making this fight will not assuage his detractors, Guerrero is a pressure fighter who, in November, floored two-time champ Andre Berto twice in an absolutely brutal procession -- currently available online at HBOs on-demand service HBO GO--.
HBO has since cleared their online-streaming service HBO GO of all archived Mayweather fights and '24/7' documentaries. Meanwhile, Showtime will begin preparations for their own 24/7 style series 'All Access', which will be featured on their online-streaming service Showtime Anytime.
This announcement may very well portend a Cinco de Mayo weekend mega-card. With Mayweather and Guerrero slated for the main event, a potential undercard of two undefeated fan-favorites, Saul Alvarez (40-0-1, 30 Kos) vs. Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), is close to being ironed out.
The Cinco de Mayo weekend get of 'Money' Mayweather certainly appears to be a coup for Showtime/CBS. Specifically, for Showtime Sports GM Sthephen Espinoza, who has succeeded current HBO Sports President Ken Hershman since his departure from Showtime in 2011. The deal with Mayweather is for six fights, ensuring the sports biggest PPV money-maker of the last decade will effectively be with Showtime until he retires. This will certainly have some questioning the long-term efficacy of Hershman at his new post. HBO was apparently outbid by Showtime for the services of Mayweather, and with a six-fight commitment, time will tell how much 'Money' it yields.