Last Saturday night, in front of the massive crowd of fans packed into the MGM Grand Arena and watching from all around the world, pound-for-pound boxing kingpin Floyd Mayweather stepped into the ring to square off against Marcos Maidana. While many expected a one-sided clinic, which has become customary from the charismatic boxer, the sports community watched a competitive bout that was closer than anticipated. With that win, Mayweather moved his record to 46-0, but the conversation that has arisen since the fight hasn’t been focused on Mayweather’s legacy, but on the fact that he nearly lost a contentious battle. That raises the question of just how much value there is in the fighter known as “Money” never suffering defeat.
Floyd Mayweather has amassed an amount of wealth through the sport of boxing that most professional athletes could only dream of obtaining. His fight night purse for Saturday's main event was said to have hit $32 million before he even stepped into the arena. Mayweather has gone on record to stay that he expects to make up to $70 million for this bout in total revenue. When Mayweather fought Saul Alvarez last summer, he earned over $80 million of the record-breaking $150 million generated via PPV, due to the sheer anticipation for that fight. A well known box office draw, Mayweather has the kind of financial muscle that is rarely matched in the sports or entertainment world.
Of course, Mayweather’s drawing power isn’t only attributable to his unblemished record of excellence; much of that financial clout is due to the fact that much of the audience would prefer to see the Michigan native lose than get his hand raised yet again. Despite his immense skill, Mayweather is one of sports’ biggest bad guys. Whether because of his penchant for flaunting his wealth, his disrespect for opponents, or his boorish behavior, including assaulting his ex-wife (for which Mayweather did a stint in jail), Mayweather seems to turn people against him at every turn. But the fans keep tuning in, and keep buying his fights. And after Maidana pushed the pace for much of their 12-round affair, his stock instantly rose, as he became known as the fighter who came the closest to taking away Mayweather’s “O.” Fans immediately called for the two athletes to face each other in the ring again.
Capitalizing on such momentum is key in sports like boxing and mixed martial arts, which rely upon promoting and pay-per-view buys. The buyrate numbers for Saturday night’s contest haven’t come out yet, but a rematch between the two would most likely trump those figures, as the fight was expected to be a one-sided showcase for “Pretty Boy Floyd.” But after putting together an effort that nearly toppled the newly-crowned unified champion, Maidana has become a sort of “hero of the people.” The potential for Maidana to equal or exceed that result in a second fight would be enough to capture the attention of the sports world to a greater extent than his first attempt. In a year where the Ultimate Fighting Championship continues to struggle to find star power sufficient to drive PPV buyrates, it has to envy Mayweather’s ability to not only drive interest in his fights, but to occasionally make stars out of those who are able to remain competitive with him in the ring.
Floyd Mayweather doesn't care that much of the world hates the act that he goes into while in front of the camera or on social media, or even that they hate the man that he is when the cameras are off and he logs out. All that animus and contempt translates into his bank account growing hand over fist whenever he steps into the ring. At 37 years of age, it's tough to say whether he will retire undefeated or stay around long enough that someone will be able to defeat him. Either way, there will be a large bounty associated with fighters trying to add a blemish to his professional record -- so much so that Mayweather may risk another fight with Maidana before this momentum is lost. After all, he calls himself “Money” for a reason.