Muhammad Ali did it as undisputed heavyweight champion, so did Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard – and most of the title defenses of former WBC and IBF heavyweight title holder Larry Holmes were made in front of the public on free television via CBS/ABC/NBC. And now there's talk of the biggest diva in professional boxing, Floyd Mayweather 48-0 (26), perhaps fighting his 49th bout on network television.
This is quite a leap considering Mayweather a little over two months ago earned more money (reportedly $220 million dollars) than any other fighter in history for winning a 12-round unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao 57-6-2 (38).
Actually, it's because of how much money Mayweather made for fighting Pacquiao in what turned out to be one of the most disappointingly over hyped fights in boxing history that has him thinking about giving the fans a freebie. The fact that Floyd made $220 million and Pacquiao grossed $150 million for a fight in which one of them was injured and the other wasn't the least bit spectacular, has soured fans who have no one to blame but themselves for buying into the entire WWE hype and promotion. The aftermath of Mayweather-Pacquiao has an overwhelming majority of fans thinking hard and long in regards to what fight they'll next shell out big money for.
In the last week or so the prospect of Mayweather's next fight being on network television has escalated. Many are skeptical about the prospect of the highest paid athlete in the world performing on free TV. However, I think it's very plausible and won't be the least bit taken back if in fact Mayweather's next bout airs live on CBS and won't cost boxing/sports fans a single dollar.
Think about it…..Mayweather doesn't want to exit boxing with so many fans seeing him in a bad light, with them viewing him as a guy who really only fought for the money and never gave them anything back in return. Team Mayweather is very cognizant that many boxing fans along with fans of Floyd feel ripped off due to the amount of money they paid to finally see him fight Manny Pacquiao, and when all was said and done the fight was a complete dud for a multitude of reasons. Keeping that in mind, is there a better way for Mayweather to thank boxing fans for their emotional and financial support over the years than giving them a fight for free? If there is, it's beyond me.
I can't answer for anyone else, but I've followed Mayweather's brilliant career since he was an amateur. I said for six straight years that Mayweather would fight Pacquiao before he retired, and he did. In an addendum to that, I said it would only happen when Floyd felt it was the right time and best suited him, and that's exactly how it came to fruition and unfolded. Today, most believe Mayweather will fight just once more – tie Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0 and then retire. To that I say you are out of your mind if you really believe Floyd retires after bout #49. No way!
How can you not realize that 50-0 is the last fight. Not only does he surpass Marciano, he leaves boxing with a pristine and clean record of 50-0, or at least that's the intent. And if that is how it unfolds, nobody for generations to come will ever forget his perfect record, and that will help his legacy endure. At the end of the day, without many memorable fights to recall from his career, it'll be the clean half century mark record Mayweather will have compiled that will resonate with everybody.
Everyone knows Mayweather is about money above all else. We also know he looks at the bigger picture down the road. What a great way to set up the record breaking 50th fight. Give the fans #49 for free and then clobber them at the gate to watch #50. So Mayweather agrees to fight an opponent who has no shot to beat him on free TV for his tying 49th win. He'll allow all type of access to him and make sure the fans feel as if it's a gift for them. After the fight he'll boast and say no other great fighter/boxer ever fought for basically no purse as an appreciation thanking his fans.
A few months later he'll say that the competitor in him needs to break Marciano’s record and fight once more. And since he will have given away the last fight to the public for free, he'll most likely fight the Alvarez-Cotto winner for another astronomical purse in bout 50, and no one will complain about it since he gave them his last fight free of charge.
I say don't be surprised if Floyd Mayweather basically fights his 49th bout for nothing – and the good cachet he will have built up with the public will pave the way for him to gouge them for his record breaking 50th bout. And that doesn't make him a bad guy, no, not at all. It just reconfirms what we already knew, and that is, he's both great and smart!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com