Two weeks after his victory over Saul Alvarez in the highest grossing pay-per-view boxing match ever, Floyd Mayweather Jr. made a triumphant return to New York, where four months ago he kicked off his promotional tour for the record-setting show.
Mayweather appeared on the Howard Stern Show on Wednesday morning and met with a small group of reporters over lunch in midtown Manhattan.
“Normally I have a lot to say,” Mayweather said. “But I don’t have a lot to say except thank you to all the people who helped make this one of the biggest pay per view events ever.”
The preliminary projections have the show doing 2.2 million pay-per-view buys, which, given the pricing, makes it the highest grossing of all time with nearly $150 million in revenue. But those numbers could increase in the coming months.
“With his fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 the numbers went up weeks and months later,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime executive vice president and general manager of Sports and Event Programming. “Nine to 12 months after the fight there were 100,000 more buys.”
That fight settled in at a record 2.48 million buys and $136 million in gross revenue. Mayweather-Alvarez still has a chance to set a new record for pay-per-view buys.
The question now becomes whether Mayweather will be able to top that in his next fight. Mayweather, Espinoza and Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, were circumspect about the next opponent or the next event. There have been calls for Mayweather to fight boxers like Andre Ward and Bernard Hopkins, who are 168-pound and 175-pound champions, respectively. That’s how crazy things have gotten.
“They said we don’t have another opponent,” Mayweather said. “We’ll have to see. That’s what they said after the Oscar De La Hoya fight.”
Ellerbe said a year ago no one would have thought a Mayweather-Alvarez fight could have done the business that it did.
“Floyd brings so many different dynamics to the table,’’ Ellerbe said. “He’s completely changed the landscape of not only the way boxing is perceived, but all of sports. Trust and believe that every time Floyd steps into the ring it will be a big, big event.”
During the early part of the press conference, Mayweather was transfixed in front of a TV screen inside the Vanderbilt Suites in the MetLife Building, watching a replay of his match against Alvarez. It was only the second time that he had seen the fight. Mayweather arrived during the third round and watched the entire fight, providing his own commentary on what he could have done better.
Although his performance was brilliant – one of the best of his career – Mayweather was critical because he thought he should have knocked out Alvarez in the later rounds. He said he would have pressed the issue, but he hyper-extended his left elbow midway through the fight. That injury plus a deep thigh contusion he suffered when Alvarez hit him low in the first round were the only lingering aches from the match.
As he was watching the fight unfold, Mayweather was asked what he thought.
“It’s artistic,” he said.
The lone blemish on that work of art occurred after the fight when the scorecards were read and judge C.J. Ross had scored it 114-114 – a draw. After receiving heavy criticism, Ross announced that she was taking a leave from judging matches.
When asked about Ross’ scorecard, Mayweather just shrugged. He said it will not deter him from being dominant in the ring and it doesn’t put any more pressure on him to go for the knockout.
Mayweather is also dominating other athletes in terms of earnings. He was guaranteed $41.5 million for the Alvarez match, but that number will increase as the pay-per-view numbers increase. Ellerbe was asked if Mayweather himself could earn close to $100 million from the fight.
“It could potentially be that,” Ellerbe said. “We might not know that for a while.”
Espinoza said that Mayweather is approaching 13 million pay-per-view buys in his career with $750 million in pay-per-view revenue generated. Those are staggering numbers. It is a reminder of what Tiger Woods did in golf when he was winning major tournaments regularly. But the majority of Woods’ earnings came from endorsements, which Mayweather doesn’t have.
“A brand on my back doesn’t define my greatness,” Mayweather said. “Nike doesn’t have to make me. Addidas doesn’t make me. My brand is TMT (The Money Team). I don’t have anything against those companies. If they want to put a patch on my trunks for 36 minutes work and pay me, they can. But just because a guy has Under Armor (Alvarez’s endorsement) on his trunk doesn’t make him a better fighter than me.”
As he approaches Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record there will be more and more questions about his legacy and where he thinks he stands among the all-time greats. Mayweather, who is 45-0 with 26 KOs, tried to be diplomatic with those questions. He praised all the past greats, including Marciano, and said he is only focusing on what he is doing in the ring right now. He will leave the debate to others.
“There is no question that Floyd is the best fighter of his generation,” Espinoza said. “Even the skeptics have to admit that now.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda