Author: Joe Siegal
Boxing’s contemporary detractors seem to constantly harp on the sport’s impending demise, citing lack of interest in a once massively popular industry. The current reality of the sport couldn’t be further from that cynical outlook. As Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s lucrative success has shown, boxing is as healthy as ever, though it faces an eventual critical moment as the undefeated Mayweather ages.
Mayweather’s Sept. 14 majority decision victory in which he dismantled Saul “Canelo” Alvarez proved one additional thing: the man they call “Money” is the only remaining star in boxing, making him invincible in the sport’s current landscape.
Due to Mayweather’s exceptional and unmarred career record, he has come to control and dominate boxing both in and out of the ring. Mayweather essentially gets to hand-pick his own opponents and determine the ratios of the payouts from pay-per-view and ticket sales.
At the peak of boxing’s popularity, this would have never been possible. Multiple international stars would have to compete for top-billed fights, whereas Mayweather currently stands alone, holding firm control of the sport’s yearly fight schedule.
Despite popular doubt, this current formula has proven not only that the sport is alive and well, but that it is thriving at new, previously unfathomable levels.
Like all major sports these days, boxing is only as strong as its most profitable stars. When doubters call into question the current health of the sport, they often ignore the fact that Mayweather is the single highest paid athlete in the world and that his recent fights have taken the sport to new heights.
Despite its lack of hype, at least relative to the biggest historical fights, the Alvarez fight has clocked in as the highest-grossing pay-per-view event of all time. The Showtime event sold 2.2 million buys and raked in $150 million off the broadcast alone. The fight also set the all-time mark for a paid gate attendance, bringing in another $20 million. Mayweather’s personal take was estimated at $80 million from the fight night alone.
Alvarez is a rising star, and though he was the most challenging possible opponent for Mayweather, “Money” looked to be in control the whole fight. The judges’ baffling split decision fails to acknowledge just how good Mayweather looked. At 36, his technical skills are as sharp as ever, making it hard to imagine the Grand Rapids, Mich. native losing a fight, even in the latter years of his career. He now sits at a perfect 45-0, with no obvious challengers making themselves seem worthy of a fight.
The dearth of worthy younger opponents in the sport means that Mayweather should be compelled to finally take on Manny Pacquiao. Though Pacquiao’s star has fallen as he’s lost his last two fights, a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown would no doubt challenge or surpass the financial marks set by the Alvarez fight.
At this point, it seems that the only place Mayweather can search for career fulfillment in boxing is in bigger payouts. While he has taken his sport to new heights, boxing also faces an uncertain future devoid of superstars once Mayweather rides off into the sunset.
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